South Florida Water Management District emails show U.S. Sugar Corp. lobbyist’s influence
South Florida Water Management District emails show U.S. Sugar Corp. lobbyist’s influence.
South Florida water managers were on the verge of an agricultural pollution crackdown when they scrapped their plans and let a sugar lobbyist dictate edits to a 2015 annual report that paved the way for weaker regulations, emails show.
Bob Graham told TCPalm.
All references were deleted to a $650,000 district study that used scientific data from water monitoring sensors to zero in on areas around Lake Okeechobee that weren’t cutting phosphorus pollution enough to meet state-mandated limits.
Amid six emails, three phone calls, four meetings with Quincey and one meeting that included U.S. Sugar Vice President Malcolm "Bubba" Wade, the district: Asked Quincey for a “list of edits" to the annual report.
Then-Deputy Administrator Len Lindahl brought a hard copy of Chapter 4 to that meeting and asked Quincey for a "list of edits," emails show.
After a Dec. 17 meeting with Quincey, the district also changed its legislative proposal to align with the weaker DEP regulations that U.S. Sugar was seeking.
“Those changes are not peer-reviewed, which calls into question the standard by which these reports are put out.
"I think the whole thing stinks.” For the record The district refused to answer TCPalm’s questions about its investigative findings, but spokesman Randy Smith’s emailed statement called the annual report a "shining example of a public step-by-step process effective in soliciting feedback from professionals as well as the general public."
"Ultimately, it was up to the district’s staff and district scientists to decide on what was included in the final report," Sanchez said, calling TCPalm "an outlet for the fake news created by special interest activists."