Florida’s Biggest Polluters Spending 13.8 Million to Pollute Politics

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Jennifer Rubiello

Environment Florida Research and Policy Center

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The owner of Buckeye Florida LP spent $13,800,000 on lobbying in a single year, according to a new report by Environment Florida. The enormous spending came after Buckeye Florida LP dumped 264,460 pounds of toxic chemicals into Florida’s waterways in 2012.  

Environment Florida released its “Polluting Politics” report shortly after the introduction of a House bill to block the EPA’s clean water rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Florida and across the country.

“As it turns out, the same companies that are polluting our rivers with toxic chemicals are also polluting our politics with their spending,” observed Jennifer Rubiello, campaign organizer with Environment Florida.

Environment Florida’s report links discharges of toxic chemicals as reported in the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012 with federally reported campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

Major findings of the report include:

  1. Buckeye Florida LP dumped over 264,0000 pounds of toxic pollution into Florida’s waterways. Its owner, Koch Industries, Inc., spent close to $14 million on lobbying in the same year.
  2. Koch Industries, Inc. contributed more than $7.7 million to candidates for federal office in the 2014 election cycle.

Right now, polluters are lobbying their allies on Capitol Hill to derail EPA’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to 15,000 miles of streams in Florida. Loopholes in the law currently leave the waterways that feed the drinking water for close to 2 million Floridians at risk.

 “When powerful special interests spend millions to influence our elections and lobby decisionmakers, they drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” said Bill Newton, executive director of the Florida Consumer Action Network. “To make sure we’re able to protect our environment and our health, we need reforms to stop the flow of big money into politics.”

“Koch Industries, Inc. and other polluters have mastered the art of privatizing profits and socializing pollution at the public’s expense through lobbying and political contributions to our elected officials,” added Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean Water Network. “We are involuntarily giving them scores of acres of submerged lands for free. In return, they are killing 3 Florida rivers and the northeastern corner of the Gulf of Mexico.  What a deal for us!”

Opponents of restoring protection to our waterways claim the EPA’s rulemaking will hurt cities and counties. Yet, hundreds of local elected officials have signed on across the country in support of clean water protections, including St. Petersburg City Councilmember Darden Rice and Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson.

“St. Petersburg is a growing and thriving city,” she noted. “If we want to continue drawing Millennials and entrepreneurs to St. Pete and tourists to our beautiful beaches, we need to ensure our bay is clean for recreation and our water is safe to drink.”

Fortunately, Florida also has clean water champions in Congress like Senator Nelson who are standing up for waterways we love.

“Florida’s tourism economy, fisheries and natural resources rely on clean water that is free from algae and tar,” Senator Nelson said in a December 2nd statement. “I’ve voted twice against attempts by Senate Republicans to cut back protections for clean water, and I will continue to work with the EPA and Army Corps to make sure this rule works for Florida.”

“It’s clear that Florida’s polluters have deep pockets, but thousands of Floridians have raised their voices in support of doing more to protect the treasured rivers from the St. Johns to the Hillsborough,” Rubiello said. “It’s time for Congress to listen to citizens, not the polluters, and let the EPA finish the job to protect our waterways.”


Environment Florida is a statewide, citizen supported advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, please visit www.EnvironmentFlorida.org