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Crist's Big Deal


On the Plank, Jon rightly notes that Charlie Crist's plan to buy out U.S. Sugar—along with 187,000 acres in the Everglades—is a huge deal, and a critical move on the path toward reversing the damage wrought on the area by flood-control projects over the years. Florida has already embarked on a big multibillion-dollar push to restore the Everglades to their natural state, but those efforts were always doomed to fall short unless the state could get water flowing through the northern region controlled by sugar producers. It's stunning that Crist is now poised to change all that in one swoop. (Okay, maybe not that stunning: Crist's green instincts have been solid from the get-go.)

I was curious, though, why U.S. Sugar agreed to the buyout in the first place. Julia Whitty notes that the company had been hemmed in by new rules against "backpumping" its dirty farm runoff into Lake Okeechobee. And here's The Wall Street Journal: "The biggest U.S. cane sugar maker was already under pressure from cheaper sugar imports from Latin America. After the latest farm bill and Central American Free Trade Agreement provisions that would allow more cheap imports, Reuters notes, the writing was on the wall." So it sounds like U.S. Sugar was already looking for an out, and Crist gave them one. That sounds plausible enough.

--Bradford Plumer