Environmental activist group, The Everglades Trust, has launched a mail campaign against State Representative Katie Edward and Representative Kristin Jacobs misrepresenting their Environmental records of both because they would not support spending $3.5 million for 26,000 acre reservoir South of Lake Okeechobee that is too small to impact the Estuaries or the Everglades.
The attack piece comes in the wake of the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) decision to pass on the option to purchase land, after determining that the small 26,000 water storage area would do little to assist in restoration and protection efforts, a figurative drop in the bucket of water in the greater restoration efforts. At a projected cost of $700 million dollars solely for the land purchase, and another $2.5 million in engineering costs, the SFWMD determined the buy would be an irresponsible spend of taxpayer dollars.
Though opposed by state scientists, the land purchase south of the lakes is a pet project of jet-set, hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, who was convicted of despoiling Wetlands and fined millions for the environmental violations. Later, Jones was caught red-handed dumping raw sewage in the Florida Bay.
As the Palm Beach Post editorial board published, “ but ultimately , we believe that history may show the water district made the right decision, because, in the end, the details really did matter. The purchase apparently would have cost far more than contemplated, accomplished far less, and encumbered the resources needed to more quickly solve the system’s most pressing environmental problems.”
In the past, Representatives Edwards and Jacobs have advocated for funding Everglades restoration projects already approved, and making use of land already purchased, rather than purchasing more land. That advocacy seems to run counter to the goals of the Everglades Trust and other environmental groups.
One of the more ironic aspects of the mail attack against Edwards and Jacobs is that The Everglades Trust accuses them of being influenced or pressured by the sugar industry while simultaneously encouraging their own supporters to influence and pressure them into supporting the land purchase with their phone calls and emails.
As was reported by BrowardBeat.com, Edwards took to Facebook to respond to the mailer writing “I suppose working to make sure that our existing public lands are maintained, our existing (Everglades restoration) projects are completed and our backlog of deferred operations and maintenance of water infrastructure makes me a target for out-of-state billionaires and their Gucci loafer wearing lobbyists. My constituents should not be misled by these recent attacks on me by these special interests.” When speaking with BrowardBeat.com‘s Nevins, Edwards blamed Paul Tudor Jones, and “his lobbyist” Nick Iarossi.
The Everglades Trust communications regularly cite that Amendment 1 received a 75% statewide vote in favor of the amendment, and attempt to use that as justification for a single land purchase, but the amendment itself has no specific mandate for the purchase of the 46,000 of land the environmental groups are pushing for. The South Florida Water managements District studied the land and determined it would cost $2.5 Billion to use it for 26,00 water storage area- a small amount of water at a huge cost. Now the Enviros are demanding $45 million and $450 million borrowing to buy unspecified land south of the lake. Edwards and Jacobs do not support diverting money from other vital water quality projects.
When CEO of the Everglades Foundation, Erik Eikenberg, was confronted about the mailer, he responded ““I’m running the Everglades Foundation everyday”, adding “I’m not the one making those decisions.” He declined to state whether or not he endorsed the mailers. Not only does Eikenberg serve as CEO of the Everglades Foundation, he also sits on the board of the Everglades Trust.
While quick to criticize contributions to elected officials that do not fall in line with the Everglades Trust agenda, the environmental group is decidedly silent regarding it’s own efforts to contribute to and support elected officials. They are also significantly close-mouthed on their sizeable contributions to and cooperation with other environmental groups who vote and work on their behalf. Research indicates that the sister organization of Everglades Trust, Everglades Foundation, contributes tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups such as Audubon Florida, Clean Water Fund of Florida, The Sierra Club Foundation, and other groups who help promote the Everglades Trust/Everglades Foundation agenda.
Sources to the Daily Broward indicate that the mail campaign attacking legislators regarding the land purchase has only begun and will likely continue over the next few weeks as the special legislative session continues in Tallahassee.