Next time Gov. Ron DeSantis tries to claim he’s not beholden to Florida’s powerful sugar industry, don’t believe him.
DeSantis gave Big Sugar a massive gift April 29 when he signed Senate Bill 88, a measure which effectively indemnifies Big Sugar from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems.
This bill, now law, means only those who live within a half a mile of an agricultural operation can bring a legal case against detrimental impacts like the smoke from the burning fields, which can travel upwards of 20 miles.
The old and young are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems caused by burning during the 6-8 month harvest season.
Now, they’ll have no recourse.
We’d hoped DeSantis would do the right thing for the Glades communities and all Floridians; we’d hoped he’d demonstrate his independence from Big Sugar and veto the bill.
Instead, he proved himself willing to fall in line with Big Sugar’s agenda — just like so many “leaders” before him.
This, from a governor who styled himself as a Teddy Roosevelt Republican and who, during his gubernatorial run in 2018, described opponent Adam Putnam as “sugar’s errand boy.”
Who’s running errands for Big Sugar now?
Our allies with Muck City Black Lives Matter called out this bill for what it is.
“It was a shame to see the sugar industry manipulate so many lawmakers, both in Tallahassee and locally through the Political Leadership in Muck City, into taking away the legal rights of our community so that the sugar industry can continue to poison our predominantly Black and Brown Glades Communities with impunity,” said Robert Mitchell, a co-founder of Muck City Black lives matter and resident of Belle Glade.
“Governor DeSantis had an opportunity to stand against Big Sugar and he clearly wasn’t up for the task. Fortunately, this bill has brought more attention to the environmental racism of sugar burning in the Glades and has strengthened our movement as a result. We will continue to speak truth to power and demand Big Sugar and their puppet politicians get their knees off our necks and let us breathe!”
Despite a disappointing outcome, you showed up. And for that, we thank you.
Friends of the Everglades supporters sent DeSantis nearly 1,500 messages requesting a veto this week. Though he ignored our collective pleas, our resolve to fight for the Everglades, and hold Big Sugar responsible, remains undiminished.
We encourage you to continue learning about issues like sugarcane burning. You can start by using the button below to listen to our recent Clean Water Conversation: Stop the Burn which featured representatives from Sierra Club’s Stop the Sugar Field Burning campaign and passionate members of the communities that are most impacted.