Iowa Public Television


Everglades Cleanup Extended

posted on May 23, 2003

It's not unusual for key government employees to begin to adjust careers on the approach of a presidential election year.

This week Ari Fleischer, the President's spokesman announced he would be stepping down.

Sometimes members of the White House staff are encouraged to leave, as was the case with out-spoken Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil. The Wall Street banker could never quite get comfortable with White House Fiscal policy.

Discomfort with administration policy is also cited as the reason for the departure of EPA Director Christie Todd Whitman. The moderate, former governor of New Jersey frequently clashed with Bush officials over environmental matters. Whitman's departure is a setback to Bush re-election efforts to woo environmental voters. On another front, another Bush is confronting his own thorny environmental issue.


For years, environmentalists have blamed the sugar industry for many of the problems besieging Florida's Everglades. The environmentalists allege that run-off from sugar fields promotes the growth of cattails, which overrun native plants and wildlife. In 1992, Florida entered into an agreement with the federal government to reduce phosphorous levels by the year 2006.

This week, pledging his renewed commitment to restoring the so-called "River of Grass," Florida Governor Jeb Bush, signed a bill extending the deadline by 10 years. The extension is being criticized by both environmentalists and the sugar industry.

Environmentalists had called for a veto of the bill, fearing the delay could lead to less-stringent water standards. The sugar industry is concerned that the law makes too many concessions to the environmentalists.

Claiming the restoration will be more than 95% complete by the original deadline of 2006, Bush ordered the Florida legislature to consider separate legislation he claims will address the concerns of environmentalists.

Bush signed the law amidst cautions by some of Florida's Republican lawmakers that the measure could jeopardize the federal government's commitment to pay half of the $8-billion cleanup cost. Meanwhile, a U.S. District Court judge has threatened to ignore the new law if it contradicts Florida's original agreement with the federal government.


Tags: Florida industry news water water quality