David Guest's Blog Posts

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David Guest's blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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David Guest is the Managing Attorney in Earthjustice's Florida office. His countless legal battles have, in one way or another, been all about water. David's motivation to protect Florida's water comes from years of running boats in the state's rivers and lakes, which convinced him that waterways are many people's spiritual connection to nature. When he's not busy keeping Florida's waterways slime-free, David enjoys boating on Lake Miccosukee and watching the birds roost at sunset. His time spent wading waist-deep in alligator-infested waters and living out of dingy motel rooms during months-long trials is validated by the knowledge that, as Julius Caesar once said, "Great battles are decided by trivial events."

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09 April 2014, 7:18 AM
Big-Ag backpumping allows pollutant-laden waters into drinking water sources
Backpumping into Lake Okeechobee has polluted drinking water supplies. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Woan)

For more than 30 years, the big lake that looks like a hole on the Florida map at the top of the Everglades—714-square-mile Lake Okeechobee—has been wrecked by government-sanctioned pollution.

But we won a decision in federal court March 28 that, we hope, will put a stop to it. Florida’s biggest newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, called the ruling “long-awaited clarity and common sense” and “a victory for public health and the environment.”

We agree.

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13 March 2014, 9:40 AM
Grassroots movement demands an end to slimy, toxic waterways
A toxic algae outbreak pollutes the Santa Fe River during the Memorial Day holiday in 2012. (John Moran)

Hundreds of citizens came from all over Florida to the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 18 with a strong message for the state’s leaders: we have a fundamental right to clean water, and we want our leaders to preserve that right.

The Clean Water Tally Rally also drew some forward-thinking legislators who stood with the demonstrators and said they are concerned about the water quality decline in the Sunshine State. All the leaders signed our grassroots movement’s Clean Water Declaration, which says:

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11 February 2014, 4:48 PM
Just helping another state's waterways get as polluted as his
A blue heron flies over the Chesapeake Bay watershed at sunset. (Lone Wolf Photos / Shutterstock)

Let’s put this news item in the Yet-Another-Crazy-Florida-Thing-We-Swear-We-Didn’t-Make-Up file.

Florida, the state with water pollution so severe that multitudes of fish, dolphins, seabirds and manatees are washing up dead, has now taken bold legal action.

But it isn’t action to clean up Florida waters. No, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott have filed legal action to block pollution cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

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13 November 2013, 11:27 AM
Yet, industry group seeks to removed endangered species status
The manatee deaths have been linked to toxic algae outbreaks.
(David Hinkel / U.S. FWS)

I’m sad to report that 2013 has become the deadliest year ever for Florida’s endangered manatees.

So far this year, 769 manatees have died (Jan. 1 through Oct. 29), the largest annual manatee die-off in Florida since record-keeping began, according to the Save the Manatee Club.

“That means more than 15 percent of the estimated population of about 5,000 has already been killed, and as the year goes on the total will continue to climb,” environmental reporter Craig Pittman wrote in the Tampa Bay Times.

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17 September 2013, 9:45 AM
Toxic algae, caused by runoff, spreads widely into communities
Toxic algae outbreak at St. Johns River four years ago—the situation has not improved. (Florida Water Coalition)

This fall, as fluorescent green toxic algae continues to break out in front of pricey waterfront homes along South Florida’s Treasure Coast (north of Palm Beach), and around the southwest tourist meccas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, there’s an explosion of citizen protest and lot of talk about moving the polluted water somewhere else, please.

What we need to talk about is cleaning the water up, not just moving it around. Our government has the power to do this, but instead, all that leaders suggest is more engineering to move the polluted swill from one place to another. It’s wrong-headed, and it needs to stop. They need to hold polluters accountable.

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08 August 2013, 10:58 AM
EPA turns back on stopping killer goo that chokes waterways, coastline
Thousands of residents gathered in Stuart, FL to protest the government's coddling of polluters. (Justin Parsons)

Right now, in the prime-time of summer fishing, surfing, and swimming season, health officials in one of the prettiest places in southeast Florida are warning people not to touch the water because it poses a dangerous health risk.

A massive toxic algae outbreak along the Atlantic coast, north of Palm Beach, is turning the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Rivers sci-fi green. This is one of the most biologically productive parts of South Florida, and one of the most popular for water sports.

It’s also the same place where hundreds of manatees, birds, fish and dolphins have been washing up dead since last winter and spring. A New York Times article today dealt with many of these same issues. Thousands of fed-up local residents are taking to the streets in protest. On man carried a sign which said it all:

“No One Wants Sewer Front Property.”

As this crisis unfolds, what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doing? Fighting us in federal court!

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18 July 2013, 10:16 AM
Ag giant Lykes Brothers snubbed in attempt to fill creek, ban public access
A swimming hole at Fisheating Creek. (B A Bowen Photography / Flickr CC)

I’m happy to announce that we won the latest legal skirmish in our 23-year quest to keep one of South Florida’s wildest waterways open to the public.

On July 5, an administrative law judge in Tallahassee upheld the public’s right to boat, fish and picnic on the wonderful Fisheating Creek in Glades County, south of Lake Okeechobee. That right was imperiled by agribusiness giant Lykes Brothers, which owns most of the land on both sides of the creek. Lykes planned to provide the state with 3,300 truckloads of free sand, and had proposed that the state use the sand to close off the creek to ordinary folks.

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12 April 2013, 3:47 PM
Toxic algae, caused by runoff, found in mammals' stomachs
The manatees in the Indian River seem to be eating algae because a huge 2011 algae outbreak killed most of the sea grasses. (Shutterstock)

Florida tourism promoters are always looking to get stories in the newspaper to lure northern tourists—and their vacation cash—down here. But a recent story in the New York Times wasn’t what they had in mind.

“Florida Algae Bloom Leads to Record Manatee Deaths,” read the national headline on April 6, in the middle of prime winter tourist season.

Endangered manatees have been dying by the hundreds on both the east and west coasts. The tally is at 340 and rising. No one has pinpointed the precise cause, but the likeliest is toxic algae, the kind that’s fueled by sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution.

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14 February 2013, 3:39 PM
Don't let agricultural pollutants kill magic waterways, they say
Algae outbreak on the Santa Fe River in May of 2012. (John Moran)

In a fantastic show of grassroots support for clean water, Floridians packed a Environmental Protection Agency meeting in Tampa on Jan. 16, saying they are fed up with repeated slimy algae outbreaks on the state’s beaches, rivers, spring and streams

More than 150 protested, and they wore fluorescent green T-shirts saying, “Ask me about slime.” They asked the EPA to stay strong and enforce pollution limits for sewage, manure and fertilizer—three culprits which are fueling algae outbreaks all over the state.

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14 December 2012, 10:59 AM
EPA will step in to regulate 100,000 miles of Florida's waters
Visitors at spring-fed Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL, for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend found a rude surprise—pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer sparked an outbreak of nasty green slime. (John Moran)

We’re happy to report that our long fight to clean up the green slime that’s been plaguing Florida waterways for years hit a major turning point on Nov. 30. That’s the day the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to set numeric pollution limits for some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries.

We fought every polluting industry in Florida for four years to get this result. These slime outbreaks—caused by pollutants in inadequately treated sewage, manure and fertilizer—are a pestilence, contaminating water, killing fish, destroying property values and chasing off tourists. Now the EPA has to stop dragging its feet and deal with it.

Using extensive data it has been collecting and analyzing in concert with Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientists, the EPA will impose numeric limits on the allowable amount of phosphorus and nitrogen—so called “nutrient” pollution—in the state’s waterways.

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