TOUGH ADS TARGET BACKERS OF SLOWED GLADES CLEANUP - Mitch Perry

07/01/04

Starting today in South Florida - but soon to spread throughout the state, including the bay Area - an environmental group is targeted state legislators who voted last year for a law that delays cleanup requirements for the Florida Everglades.

That bill changed the 1994 Everglades Forever Act, which was the basis for a settlement that ended a lawsuit between the state and federal governments. In 1988, the Justice Department sued Florida, saying the state allowed too much pollution in Everglades National Park.

The Everglades Trust' Thom Rumberger says the votes in favor of last year's legislation were payback to the state's powerful sugar industry, which hired more than three dozen lobbyists to shepherd the passage of the bill. (roll tape#1 o.q."in the face of all this money")

Only 18 members of the 160 member state House & Senate voted against the measure.....a year ago.

While sitting at his desk in Tallahassee, Rumberger reeled off dollar amounts of big sugar which he says has been contributed to Florida lawmakers on both sides of the aisle

(roll tape #2 o.q." $6,000 dollars")

The measure that passed last year extends deadlines to clean up polluted water - that was set for 2006 -- to 2013 - and sets a standard for a key pollutant, phosphorus, at no more than 10 parts per billion. The sugar industry HAD hoped to extend the deadlines to 2026 and set the phosphorus standard at 15 parts per billion. The bill also gave agricultural polluters until 2017 to pay a tax to finance the cleanup.

The ads beginning today will run in Key West, Miami and West Palm Beach...

But The Everglades Trust's Thom Rumberger says print and television ads will start spreading throughout the state by November. (roll tape#3 o.q. "some of these legislators")

Among the 4 legislators targeted in today's ads are South Florida Representative Adam Hasner, who criticized the ads and noted he has supported funds for Everglades restoration....But Thom Rumberger from the Everglade Trust says the record indicates otherwise (roll tape#4 o.q."to the sugar industry")

Another South Florida legislator targeted by the ads, Ken Sorenson, defends the passage of last year's bill, saying it was based on evidence that certain cleanup standards would be hard to meet with current technology...

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