The environmental group Friends of the Everglades is responding to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s decision to address the Everglades Coalition later today by saying in a press release that Jackson’s “rosy outlook on the Everglades” is “long on promises but short on progress.”

Jackson, along with other government officials, will be discussing plans for continuing historic progress in Everglades restoration. They will be joined by area business leaders, elected officials and environmentalists.

Friends of the Everglades is currently a lead plaintiff in federal litigation over water quality proceedings in the Miami courtroom of federal judge Alan Gold, who ruled in April that the state of Florida has failed to protect the threatened Everglades and that the EPA must step in to enforce anti-pollution rules.

Gold was harshly critical of environmental action (or inaction, as the case may be) taken by Gov. Rick Scott. “Simply stated, the entire situation is rapidly sliding backwards,” Gold wrote in his order.

Still, says Friends of the Everglades, the EPA is proceeding with an excess of caution under severe pressure by industry and the state. “If environmentalists had a nickel for every politician who claimed to be in favor of saving the Everglades, we’d all be flying in private jets like the sugar barons,” said Friends president Alan Farago in a press release.

From the Friends press release:

Corporate polluters continue to exert undue influence and pressure on the outcome of taxpayer initiatives to restore the Everglades Judge Gold has already insisted that the EPA provide enforceable remedies for ongoing violation of federal pollution standards in the Everglades.

Any agreement between the EPA and State of Florida must include the enforceable remedies required by Judge Gold.  To date, the state has declined to negotiate a lasting settlement and is adopting, instead, a piece-meal position.

On Thurs., Jan. 12, both the EPA and the state will participate in a conference with Judge Gold, to discuss the status of the litigation.

A public hearing sponsored by EPA according to federal permitting requirements will be held on March 13.

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