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Sugar Reform Now: Sign the U.S. Farm Bill petition to protect the Everglades

For decades, private sugar companies have received enormous government handouts via the U.S. Farm Bill — to the detriment of clean air and water in Florida.   Through controls on production and strict import limits, the cost of the federal sugar program is shifted to consumers and taxpayers. Windfall profits generated by the sugar industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This unjust, outdated policy enriches billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of the iconic, life-sustaining Everglades and nearby communities. It's a double-whammy for South Florida taxpayers, who also foot the bill to clean polluted water from sugarcane fields south of Lake Okeechobee. Meanwhile, people who live near those sugarcane fields [...]

DeSantis just signed “Sprawl Bill” 540 into law

This afternoon, Gov. DeSantis signed into law the worst environmental bill passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2023 session. Senate Bill 540, which will take effect July 1, is a death knell for smart growth in Florida. It will effectively end citizen challenges to comprehensive plan amendments by sadling those who challenge an amendment and lose with the other side’s legal fees — including developers’ attorney fees if they join the case.  Signing SB 540 into law defies the spirit of DeSantis’ own Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. And it will embolden developers to propose more environmentally perilous projects. Friends of the Everglades did not stand [...]

WATCH NOW — Last call: SB 540 VETO requests

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9eCeQIy86M From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The clock is ticking. Last Thursday, May 9, state lawmakers sent “Sprawl Bill” 540 to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, triggering a 15-day deadline for him to either sign or veto this environmentally reckless bill. If approved, the legislation would be the death knell for responsible growth-management in Florida — putting citizens at huge financial risk if they challenge changes to local comprehensive plans, which are the blueprints for growth in cities and counties. Much is at stake. Florida is the fastest-growing state in the country; it's ground zero for the climate crisis; and it’s undertaking the largest ecosystem restoration effort on [...]

Gov. DeSantis, don’t disempower citizens. VETO Senate Bill 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 , which the Legislature passed May 2, would be a death knell for citizen engagement in development decisions. It would make it almost impossible for average residents to bring challenges to legally flawed amendments to local comprehensive plans, which serve as the blueprint for growth in local communities. SB 540 undercuts the fundamental right to seek remedy from the courts if the political process fails. That’s bad for the future of Florida, bad for the Everglades, and bad for water and wildlife. It also flies in the face of Gov. DeSantis Executive Order 23-06, which called for protecting the long-term planning process that safeguards sustainable growth in Florida. To [...]

WATCH NOW — A Postcard from Tallahassee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6N94KZSWL8 Greetings from Tallahassee, where the Legislature is heading into the final weeks of a high-stakes session — with troublesome environmental legislation still in play. We’re here at the Capitol this week, advocating against two especially concerning bills that threaten to erode what’s left of sound growth-management policies in Florida.  Our mission at Friends of the Everglades is to preserve, protect and restore the only Everglades in the world — including its connected waterways. That can only happen if we plan wisely for development, taking reasonable precautions to protect wetlands and wildlife. Unfortunately, the bills we’re tracking most closely would grease the skids for developers who propose sprawl that encroaches on Florida’s last remaining green spaces. The short video [...]

Tell Sen. Mayfield to STOP SB 540

We need you to speak up! Senate Bill 540 (DiCeglie) would disempower citizens by requiring the losing party in challenges to local government comprehensive plans or plan amendments to pay the prevailing party’s attorney fees and court costs. This could be a significant burden for the average citizen, and runs the risk of scaring off well-meaning challenges, thereby leading to more development and sprawl. The bill was made even worse through an amendment that effectively greenlights a controversial Miami-Dade County proposal which Friends of the Everglades was involved in fighting last year — to bring dense industrial development to hundreds of flood-prone acres of farmland in Homestead, well outside the Urban Development Boundary. We’ve made it easy [...]

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