Court Upholds Permits for Sugar Growers

Dan Florida, Specialty Crops, Sugar

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From the News Service of Florida

An appeals court Friday upheld decisions by the South Florida Water Management District to issue permits to sugar-cane growers, rejecting arguments by the Florida Audubon Society that the permits would not adequately protect the Everglades. A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal issued a 17-page ruling that backed district decisions in 2012 to issue permits that regulate the discharge of phosphorus in water that flows into the Everglades. In 2014, an administrative law judge also rejected Florida Audubon’s arguments and said the permits should be issued to U.S. Sugar Corp., Sugar Farms Co-Op and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida. The environmental group contended that the permits violated a law known as the Everglades Forever Act because they did not require additional water-quality measures and because the growers’ discharges contributed to ongoing water-quality problems in an Everglades protection area, according to Friday’s ruling. But the appeals court gave a detailed analysis of the history of Everglades protection efforts and laws in upholding the district’s permitting decisions.