Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida reports on the formation of the newly created Florida Conservation Coalition and what it wants from the state.
"Buoyed by recent comments by Gov. Rick Scott, a new coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday called on lawmakers to restore growth management protections and resist the temptation to further consolidate control over the state's water resources," he writes.
The coalition, headed by former Gov. Bob Graham, did not suggest where the state might find the money to restore programs as the economy continues wobbling uncertainly and government budgets crumble.
And (this is not by way of faulting Mr. Peltier's otherwise excellent reporting) there is a need for additional context here.
For example, the same groups forming the new coalition only a few years ago successfully engineered a huge taxpayer bailout of ailing US Sugar and called it the best way to restore the Everglades -- a very expensive deal they're now obviously hoping to preserve.
When it comes to the water management district in South Florida's handling of this deal the coalition is decidedly hush-hush. The taxpayers are now on the hook for what was originally a $1.75 billion payment to US Sugar for land the state is not even using! US Sugar gets to continue to hold and farm it indefinitely at taxpayer expense.
That something-for-nothing deal left Florida taxpayers in south Florida holding the bag drew wide criticism.
So the Palm Beach Post is reporting today that "U.S. Sugar Corp. this week paid $150 million for land owned by another cane grower," A. Duda & Sons Inc.'s approximately 14,000 acres in the unincorporated areas in the western part of the county.
Of course U.S. Sugar just sold 26,800 acres to the state for $197 million in 2010.
Anybody have any idea what's going on here? I mean, apart from the obvious. The Duda land must be richer and hold deeper pockets of muck, making it very attractive for cane farming.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Sugar land the state bought for $197 million, ostensibly for restoration? U.S. Sugar gets to farm it for sugar cane indefinitely.
The Duda land just bought by U.S. Sugar for $150 million? Duda, which grows a lot of celery, gets to continue farming vegetables on it.
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