Congressman Brian Mast wants sugar industry lobbyists off ACOE Lake Okeechobee advisory panel
Stuart, Fl (treasurecoast.com)- Congressman Brian Mast wants sugar industry lobbyists off ACOE Lake Okeechobee advisory panel.
“Responsibly managing Lake Okeechobee to eliminate toxic discharges is about protecting people’s safety and the health of every individual living in our community. But for too long the decisions being made have instead prioritized the private profit of a few over the well-being of everybody else.
That’s why, in 2018, I passed a law mandating that the Army Corps rewrite their schedule determining discharges from Lake Okeechobee. This operational change will have long-lasting impacts on our public health and environment. It is the best chance we have for at least the next decade to stop toxic discharges.
But now, special interests are trying to again hijack this process for their personal profit, and they’re being helped by people within our government. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has designated three sugar industry lobbyists to serve on the team responsible with advising the Army Corps while they determine when and in what quantity discharges will occur.
By empowering these lobbyists to participate during Project Delivery Team meetings – a level of access not given to the rest of the citizens of our state – Commissioner Fried has given these lobbyists influence over the discharge schedule and lake levels. As a result, the sugar industry has greater access and influence over the rewriting of the system’s operations than the rest of the citizens of our state, and I believe this is a massive conflict of interest.
For 9 of the last 12 years, our community received toxic discharges because the Lake O management schedule was slanted toward private profit instead of public health. Now, as the schedule is being rewritten, we must make sure this doesn’t happen again. That’s why I’m calling on Commissioner Fried to tell the Army Corps that these lobbyists are no longer authorized to participate in these meetings on behalf of her agency!”