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Fla. Law Adds Decade to Everglades Cleanup

May 21, 2003|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill Tuesday that could extend the deadline for cleaning up the Everglades by 10 years, despite objections from environmentalists and a judge's warning that the law may violate a federal agreement.

Bush said the cleanup will be more than 95% complete by the original deadline of 2006. A related bill that Bush says will address environmentalists' concerns was passed by a Senate committee later Tuesday.

"We are committed like never before to restoring the Everglades," Bush said.

Environmentalists fear the measure Bush signed could delay cleanup of phosphorus polluting the Everglades. Some Republicans warned the new law could jeopardize the federal government's commitment to pay half of the $8-billion cleanup cost.

Bush said the measure does not violate a 1992 agreement with Washington seeking acceptable Everglades phosphorus levels by 2006. The new law extends that deadline. U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler, who oversaw the agreement, has threatened to ignore the state law if it contradicts the plan.

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