AIF pushes back, slowly, on Glades studyby John Kennedy | March 2nd, 2011
One of Florida’s biggest business lobbies fired back Wednesday at the Everglades Foundation — disputing a four-month-old report by the environmental group which touted the economic benefits of restoring its namesake, fabled swamp.
“This report is nothing more than wishful thinking with no credible basis for the claims made by the foundation,” said Barney Bishop, president and CEO of AIF. “It is impossible to support the foundation’s assertion that the state will see $4 for every $1 invested in Everglades restoration. Further, it is impossible to even prove the economic benefits will ever cover the costs of the federal Everglades Restoration Plan.”
The foundation in October released a report by Mather Economics which said construction, hydrology and other environmental work tied to the Everglades project was creating jobs and would continue to add value to the South Florida region for years to come.
The foundation aired a similar theme Monday when it released results of a statewide poll showing most Floridians want Everglades restoration to continue, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s recommendation to reduce this year’s funding form $50 million to $17 million.
AIF was an early Scott supporter — splitting its Republican primary endorsement last summer between the Naples multimillionaire and then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, who was the favorite of most of the Florida Republican establishment, the state Chamber of Commerce, and other business groups.
Kirk Fordham, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said the organization stood by its environmental and economic claims. Bobby McCormick, principal investigator for the foundation’s study, defended the work as based on sound science and economics, while also challenging AIF’s findings
“The same cannot be said for the authors of the AIF study whose economics backgrounds appear to be solely in exchange rates, international trade and economic theory, not environmental work.,” McCormick said.