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Battle Over Everglades Deal: It's No 'Emergency' But it's Still an Issue

While proponents of the Everglades-U.S. Sugar deal hailed a federal judge's favorable ruling this week, opponents of the purchase say, "Not so fast."

U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno on Monday rejected the Miccosukee Tribe's request for an injunction. The decision was applauded by Kirk Fordham, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.

"With the pending acquisition of U.S. Sugar Corp. land for Everglades restoration now imminent, the Everglades Foundation commends the decision of Judge Moreno to see that this initial purchase moves forward. Continued delay is the greatest enemy of Everglades restoration. The sooner steps are taken to improve water quality, the better," Fordham said in a statement.

But Marianne Moran of Tea Party in Action had a different take.

"We're pleased that the court ruling in no way endorsed the bailout. Alsowerepleasedthat the judge recognized that this insiderdeal by Governor (Charlie) Crist's biggest campaign donors is far frombeingclosed," said Moran, who has led protests at South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach.

In his ruling on the Miccosukees' emergency motion, Moreno said no actual emergency exists since the 28,000-acre, $197 million deal would not close until Oct. 11.

"The Tea Party in Action continues to join with our coalition partners across Florida whoagree thatthis corporate bailoutisbad for taxpayers. The water district chairman acknowledgedthat this bailout will mean higher property taxes," Moran said.

In response, SFWMD spokeswoman Kayla Bergeron noted that the district's governing board "has already agreed not to raise the millage rate."

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