As Everglades Deal Nears, Critics Cry Foul

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2008 1:52 PM CST
The stacks of the U.S. Sugar Mill in Clewiston, Fla.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – As a revised deal by US Sugar to sell 180,000 Everglades acres to Florida nears completion, critics are stepping up their efforts to derail it, the Wall Street Journal reports. The deal, hailed by environmentalists, would allow the state to restore natural waterways, but opponents see it as a wasteful, secretive bailout of a struggling company. A state agency could finalize it next week, and foes say more time is needed to assess it.

The deal is valued at $1.34 billion. A much-criticized provision allows US Sugar to lease back much of the land at below-market prices for seven years and retain its refining facility. One Florida congressman said the purchase “appears to be nothing more than a corporate bailout." Critics also wonder why the state needs 180,000 acres: It has previously said that the necessary restorations could be accomplished with a fraction of that.