Manatees are Dying as the Florida Legislature Rakes in Corporate Polluter Cash

Manatees are Dying as the Florida Legislature Rakes in Corporate Polluter Cash

Florida’s manatees are starving to death. Over 500 manatees have died in 2022 so far. And last year, more than 1,000 manatees starved to death, having seen their main source of food, seagrass, die off due to human-caused algae blooms. These algae blooms are caused by massive amounts of industrial fertilizer. Large corporations produce a majority of this pollution, yet the taxpayers are paying to fix it. 

The State of Florida is ground zero for our climate crisis and other environmental dangers and disasters. For instance, Florida is projected to have more dangerous heat days a year than any other state. Despite the need for policy change towards protecting Floridians from environmental disaster, the most recent legislative session showed that many Florida legislators would rather help large corporations over the people and animals of Florida.

Corporations like FPL, Florida Crystals, Petland, and more benefit from corporate tax giveaways and several policies that hurt the environment. The money given to these corporations could have gone towards preventative measures to protect the environment. Instead, Corporate polluters were given tax breaks after the Florida Legislature received huge sums of campaign contributions. Floridians deserve to live in a state where maintaining a beautiful environment for Florida’s residents and visitors receives as much attention and concern from our Legislature as the deep pocketed industries which pollute our waters.

Decomposing manatees on the beach of an island in the Indian River Lagoon about a half mile from Manatee Cove Park. Photo by Philip Stasik.

Corporate Polluters and the Influence They Had on the Florida Legislature

Corporate InfluenceDonationWhy We Should Care
Sugar
AIF (Associated Industries of Florida) representing: Florida Crystals$460,000The Legislature passed SB2508, a bill that rewarded sugar companies by giving control over the water that is stored in Lake Okeechobee to large corporations like Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar Corporation. It ended up being vetoed.
United States Sugar Corporation $1.4 millionThe Legislature passed SB 1000, which contributes to the ongoing pollution of seagrass beds by allowing the citrus industry to use more fertilizer on their land.
• Fertilizer runoff by citrus companies, as well as other agribusiness, has added to the shrinking of seagrass beds.
Manatees
Corporate Influence:Sea World
Donation: $10,000
• The legislative session gave money going towards zoos and aquarium programs like SeaWorld.•This money could have gone to preventive measures against pollution that could save manatees and other sea animals.
• Instead, this legislation chose to allocate money to Sea World. The manatees are still dying.

Manatees are in crisis. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports more than 1,100 died in 2021, double the average. They're starving to death.

Floridians deserve to live in a state where maintaining a beautiful environment for Florida's residents and visitors receives as much attention and concern from our Legislature as the deep pocketed industries which pollute our waters.