Sept. 25th is the deadline for a deal to buyout U.S. Sugar Corp, and restore 187,000 acres of Everglades wetland. The deal has a rock bottom price of $1.75 billion dollars that will be paid to U.S. Sugar for the land. In return for the $9,358 per acre paid by the Water Management District Floridians will get the satisfaction of knowing that the land will eventually be restored to its original state in time. That is, after U.S. sugar gets off the land in 2016. U.S. Sugar has worked a leaseback into the proposed deal for $50 per acre until 2016 rolls around. That means business as usual for the next 6 years. The state will get approx. $56 million from the leaseback over the span of the 6 years and U.S. Sugar has agreed to pay an additional $25 million for clean up of all the fertilizers and pollution they have dumped into an area the size of 3 Orlandos.
U.S. Sugar planned buyout map
Conservation and restoration of the land is critical to the survival of Florida as we know it. Growing up here in South Florida makes me especially interested in the deal and its progress. The deal has some bitter sweet qualities attached to it. When I found out that there is a proposed Ethanol plant that might be worked into the deal I thought to myself this may be the reason why the price of sugar has just gone up from 18 cents to 18.5 cents per pound. This new breed of Ethanol is made from the sugar cane bagasse. It was pioneered by a University of Florida professor named Lonnie Ingram. In this new technique Ingram uses a genetically engineered form of E-coli bacterium to aide in the harvesting of the sugars from the cell walls of the sugar cane. This new process is much more efficient than other means of Biofuel production. However, some are concerned that despite the advances in the extraction process the Ethanol is a pig when it comes to H2O.
Other Ethanol plants have been known to consume up to 400,000 gallons of H2O per day. Where will this water come from? The same everglades we are trying to protect and restore. Assuming that if Governor Crist has spent upwards of $20 million to research this Sugar based ethanol project it is here to stay. Word has it that Florida Power and Light may be running the Ethanol plant.
Now about Ethanol. Ethanol is no more efficient than regular gasoline. In fact its less efficient giving less MPG than traditional gasoline. It can ruin the engines in boats because it releases resins, gums and debris in the fiberglass tanks found in boats. In addition to this the Ethanol breaks down old fuel lines meant for old school gas adding to the problem.
We need to be investing in cleaner versions of fuel for our cars. Fuels like hydrogen and electric power are the key not Ethanol based garbage.
I urge you to write you congressman and tell him or her what you think about this.
Reading= Richard Weiskoff’s “The Economics of Everglades Restoration”
Cristian science monitor