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David Guest's blog

Since a recent judicial order in Florida's efforts to restore the Everglades hit the news, many people are asking: What does it mean?

The short answer is that it creates both risks and opportunities.

The twists and turns of this case are pretty complex, so let me explain what Federal Judge Mareno's order does. The judge granted a motion to force the South Florida Water Management District to spend $700 million to build a reservoir in the southern Everglades Agricultural Area.

February 13 was an amazing day in Florida. Wearing black to symbolize an oil spill, thousands of people took to the state's beaches in a massive "Hands Across the Sand" statewide protest opposing offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

We formed human chains to protect the state's famous white-sand beaches, and sent a message to our state Legislature that Floridians don't support oil drilling—especially in a state with an economy that runs on tourist business.

The EPA has taken a historic first step toward cleaning up Florida's waters by proposing limits on pollution which costs the state millions of dollars and triggers toxic algae outbreaks. Every time it rains, phosphorous and nitrogen run off agricultural operations, fertilized landscapes, and from septic systems.

The poison runoff triggers slimy algae outbreaks which foul Florida's beaches, lakes, rivers and springs more each year, threatening public health and closing swimming areas.

Even though a large group of polluters tried to derail it, Earthjustice won this week a historic settlement—with nationwide implications—that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits for the widespread nutrient poisoning that triggers harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

It is hard to imagine anyone defending the polluters that are turning Florida's waters green and slimy. But, hey, money talks.

At long last, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is agreeing to set legal, enforceable limits on such nutrients as phosphorous and nitrogen, which are poisoning Florida's public waters. EPA's historic decision settles the lawsuit we filed in July 2008.

 It is shameful that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson is siding with the state’s worst polluters to fight against cleaning up algae-choked waters poisoned by agricultural runoff.

There are toxic algae blooms all over the state, water treatment plants are closing due to nutrient poisoning, and yet Bronson directs the state to work for the polluters and against the people. 

News that "a secretive group of powerful legislators, business groups and Texas oil companies has been laying the groundwork" to open Florida's shores to oil and gas drilling should make all of us sit up and pay attention.
A story by St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald delves into the machinations of the "Florida Energy Associates," a shadowy group that "identifies itself only by saying it is financed by a group of independent oil producers."

One of the most difficult things we face every legislative season is a bill that looks good on the surface but turns out to be rotten at the core.

We are urging Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to veto just such a bill, deceptively titled, "Protection of Urban and Residential Environments and Water Act," right now. This bill – Florida Senate Bill 494 - appears to do something to help the environment, when in fact, it makes things worse.

We’re breathing a cautious sigh of relief here in Florida on the issue of offshore drilling. A dangerous bill that would have lifted the state’s offshore drilling ban appears to be dead. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Our state Senate President told reporters today that the Legislature has run out of time to hear the offshore oil issue. The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives 70-43 on Monday. If it isn’t heard in the Senate, the bill will die.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.