WEST PALM BEACH — A federal judge has given clearance to an $880 million Everglades cleanup plan, paving the way for the possible resolution of more than two decades of lawsuits. U.S. District Judge Alan Gold canceled a hearing set for next week and instead issued an order allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to grant permits for the projects.
The plan faces a public hearing later this month before proceeding. State and federal officials whittled out the deal in a year and a half of negotiations.
A lawsuit was filed in 2004 by the Miccosukee Indian tribe — whose reservation is in the Everglades — and claims state and federal agencies have repeatedly failed to enforce Clean Water Act standards. An environmental group, Friends of the Everglades, has joined the tribe as a plaintiff. Another lawsuit over many of the same issues dates to 1988.
Under the plan, new stormwater treatment areas will be built and permits issued for the operation of tens of thousands of acres of others. It will also create new water storage areas.