Florida Gulf Coast University has come to the nation’s attention in the last week due to its 2 unlikely upsets in the NCAA Tournament. This attention has also caught the attention of reporters and environmental organizations, who have explored the sordid tale of its creation. Both Miles Grant at the National Wildlife Foundation and Tim Murphy at Mother Jones have the story.
Essentially, Florida politicians and a rich developer with ties to both agribusiness and real estate wanted to build a new university outside of Fort Myers that would spur development and make a small group of people very rich. The problem–it is a swamp with critical habitat for the disappearing Florida panther. When environmental restrictions looked like they might get in the way, Senator Connie Mack got on the phone and started yelling at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the project approved.
Basically, the rich and powerful get what they want. Environmental sustainability is easy to swat out of the way.