Progressive environmental groups like the Sierra Club, and Friends of the Everglades, coupled with the so-called “non-profit” newsroom, ProPublica, have continued to claim air polluted from prescribed burning in South Florida, even under Gov. Ron DeSantis's watch.
A 2022 “investigation” conducted by ProPublica and The Palm Beach Post attempted to link prescribed sugarcane burning to poor air quality in a blog post titled, “Burning Sugar Cane Pollutes Communities of Color in Florida. Brazil Snows There’s Another Way.”
The findings, however, appear to be debunked by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which has recently posted its independent air quality test results.
“Thanks to a statewide effort, emissions in Florida continue to decrease and are now the lowest they have been on record. The state of Florida has one of the best outdoor air quality monitoring networks in the country, enabling the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to provide accurate and timely data to the state’s residents and visitors,” states the Florida DEP on its website.
The DEP says that a concerted effort between “public and industry” has led to Florida having “one of the best outdoor air quality monitoring networks in the country.”
Through a variety of services for its customers — the public and industry — the division manages Florida’s air resource fairly, consistently, and efficiently while implementing state and federal requirements and enabling the economic development of the state,” added DEP.
“Air quality in Florida has never been cleaner thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis. We must continue to protect our farmers because our food security is national security,” said Rep. Cory Mills.
According to a recent study released by Clewiston-based U.S. Sugar, other independent sources show the Glades has among the best air quality in the state.
“Our latest air update shows our community that not only is our air safe and clean every day, but it also remains cleaner than other areas of the state of Florida,” said Judy Sanchez, U.S Sugar’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.
The report also cited data from the American Lung Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showing Palm Beach County ranks nearly at the top of counties for particulate matter, which is what progressive activists are claiming is a problem as a result of prescribed sugarcane burning. Many of the same activist groups were pushing a 2022 class action lawsuit over sugarcane burning, but the suit was dismissed in federal court due to a lack of evidence.
Florida Republican State Reps. Spencer Roach and Tiffany Esposito have both come out in support of Florida farmers and against environmental groups like Sierra Club, who they say peddle “inaccurate information” about Florida’s air quality.
“We have out-of-state activists coming to Florida flaunting statistically manipulated and inaccurate information about our air quality, with the goal of hurting jobs for Florida’s agricultural industry. Florida responsibly regulates and monitors air quality across the Everglades Agricultural Area and real data supports these policies,” stated Reps. Spencer.
Rep. Espositio echoed Rep. Spencer, stating, “ Controlled and pre-harvest burning is an instrumental part of land conservation and agriculture. Environmental activist looking for ways to hurt Florida farmers are manipulating their data to paint an unrealistic and irresponsible picture of Florida air quality.”
There is no plan in place to change the sugarcane harvest practice in Florida.