For years the communities of Palm Beach county, along with many determined environmental activists, have stood in front of many of South Florida’s worst developmental excesses. This has included campaigns against the expansion of nuclear and natural gas plants and overreach into the Everglades that have gone on for a decade or more.
If only someone could say things have vastly improved. The foreclosure crisis has turned tens of thousands of the buildings that we sacrificed large parts of our unique and precious ecosystem into abandoned and increasibly uninhabitable burdens. While there was some positive news of the state of the Florida Panther’s population in 2010, at the time of this writing, 5 Florida Panthers out of the recently revised estimated population of 160 have already died in 2012, 3 of which were caused by vehicular collision. (If we were to extrapolate the amount that have died so far for the whole year, that means over one fourth of the species will die by year’s end!)
And just as in years past, politicians, city officials, lobbyists and contractors are still inching closer to sacrificing the Briger Forest to create the Scripps Biotech Park. This $300 million dollar taxpayer gift to the pharmaceutical industry has been held back year after year by the determined efforts of groups such as Everglades Earth First! and other communities activists. The most recent action last year saw 2 members of EF! occupied several trees in the Briger Forest for a several months, only to be arrested and have several of the trees they sat all that time in spitefully lopped down. (See more at scrapscripps.info)
There are many threats to what remains of South Florida’s native environment on the horizon, from the expansion of Miami & Fort Lauderdale’s Ports, to an odious plan to build one of the largest immigration detention facilities in the nation on the edge of the Everglades in Broward county. But it should also be known that the march to build the Scripps Biotech facility continues. The contractors are almost through with the permitting procedure, making it quite possible that ground could be broken on the facility this year.
Its construction would not just destroy one of the few natural forests left East of I-95 in all of South Florida, but replace it with a boon to the pharmaceutical and animal testing industries, which already exploit so much in this part of the nation. Indeed, South Florida is already one of the largest sources of prescription narcotics in the nation, a hotbed of private, for-profit healthcare exploitation, and is home to a number of corporations that benefit explicitly off the testing and torture of primates and other animals. Any argument for the jobs it will create must be tempered not only by the abusive services it intends to provide but the massive corporate swindle entailed in this deal from the inception. You see, Scripps has already got the $578 million that was incentive for them to create jobs in South Florida, and they got to keep all that money without fulfilling that obligation. Three elected officials in Palm Beach County that have advocated for Scripps are in prison on unrelated corruption charges.
So this is a reminder to conservationists, Occupiers and any other defenders against the march of predatory capitalism. We have stopped Scripps before, we can do it again, and we can use these same tactics to fight back against the destructive warpath of our government and corporate criminals all across Florida!