In 1989, Congress told the Corps of Engineers to build flood control structures to protect the people who live in what’s called the 8.5 Square Mile Area of Dade County, Fla. Environmental extremists who want the Everglades restored to the “wilderness” condition that existed before people came, convinced the South Florida Water Management District to withdraw its support for the flood-control project.
The project was never built. The new Everglades Restoration Plan calls for flooding about half the people in the area. A home-owners group filed suit, and a judge agreed that the Corps did not have authority to flood anyone in the area.
Not a problem; Congress will just change the law.
The first law was debated thoroughly, and Congress decided that the people should be protected. Did Congress debate the issue again, and change its collective mind? Not a chance.
Florida’s senators slipped language into the Interior appropriations bill that changed Congress’ mind – with absolutely no debate. Here’s just how easy it was, from the pages of the Congressional Record, Page: S8237, September 5, 2002:
Amendment #4497 by Senators Graham and Nelson of Florida
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Corps of Engineers, using funds made available by this Act and funds made available under any Act enacted before the date of enactment of this Act for modifications authorized by section 104 of the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act of 1989 (16 U.S.C. 410r-8), shall immediately carry out alternative 6D (including paying 100 percent of the cost of acquiring land or an interest in land) for the purpose of providing a flood protection system for the 8.5 square mile area described in the report entitled “Central and South Florida Project, Modified Water Deliveries to Everglades National Park, Florida, 8.5 Square Mile Area, General Reevaluation Report and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” and dated July 2000.
Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, this amendment I have offered on behalf of Senators Graham and Nelson of Florida will expedite the important environmental restoration work currently under way in and around the Everglades National Park. The amendment has been agreed to by both sides. I urge its adoption.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there further debate? If not, without objection, the amendment is agreed to.
While the amendment still calls for “providing a flood protection system for the 8.5 square mile area,” alternative 6D will provide protection for only about half the people (and about two-thirds of the land area); the other half will be bought out, whether or not they want to sell.
Ten years of flooding, and absolutely no maintenance of about 55 miles of roads in the area, has sent property values into the cellar. Appraisals on the land are often well below the mortgage balances on many of the homes.
It’s bad enough that these people are going to be routed out of their homes and paid a pittance of the former value of their land, but it is inexcusable for Florida’s senators to abuse the process by attaching a substantive legislative change to an appropriation bill, expressly to avoid debate and escape the attention of colleagues who have 12 other appropriations bills to enact, in addition to a truckload of other legislation – before they can go home to begin campaigning for the November election.
Environmental extremists love it. But just wait until someone uses this tactic to attach an amendment they don’t like. Think they won’t cry foul?
The only hope the people of South Florida have now, is Gov. Jeb Bush. He controls the South Florida Water Management District. Just as the SFWMD balked against the 1989 legislative directive, it can do it again against the 2002 legislation. Obviously, it won’t, unless the governor instructs them to do so.
Unless Bush takes some positive action to prevent this injustice, the residents of the 8.5 SMA will be sacrificed on the wildlands altar. Snakes and alligators will take precedence over people. And billions more tax dollars will be wasted trying to restore the world to the extremists’ vision of green utopia.
This episode is an example of why people across America have come together in the Sawgrass Rebellion, to stand in solidarity to say enough is enough; leave our land alone.
Caravanning across the nation, thousands of people will gather in Naples, Fla., in October to affirm their determination to reverse the out-of-control land acquisition by government and restore the sanctity of private property in the land of the free.