Posts tagged: Clean Water For Florida

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Clean Water For Florida

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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.


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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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
19 September 2011, 2:52 PM
Earthjustice news clips for the week of September 12, 2011
Photo courtesy of laffy4k

Associated Press – “Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Second Lowest Level
Sept. 15, 2011 – Last week, scientists reported that Arctic sea ice melted to its second-lowest level since monitoring began more than 50 years ago. Earthjustice’s recent telepress conference on the issue brought together top scientists and NGOs to discuss the sea ice loss, ways that the loss of sea ice might relate to mid-latitude weather patterns, what the Arctic warming means for Greenland melt and rising sea levels, and the role that CO2 emissions and short-lived global warming pollutants like black carbon and methane play in causing ice melt; and where reductions of these pollutants can be made. Approximately 25 journalists called into the conference to hear such experts as Dr. Robert Dunbar, professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions; James Overland, research oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and Dr. Walter Meier, Research Scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal says the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice “is a powerful indicator of the rapid warming occurring throughout the Arctic….[which is] causing the extraordinary increase in the melting of glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet that led scientists earlier this year to project a sea level rise of between 0.9 and 1.6 meters by the end of the century. For low-lying communities from the Pacific Islands to Bangladesh to Florida this would be calamitous.” The news story has been picked up by the Associated Press and USA Today, and continues to make headlines in several national and local publications, including NPR and the Vancouver Sun.
Additional coverage:
Related Earthjustice Resources
Press Release: Second Highest Loss of Arctic Ice on Record
UnEarthed: Arctic Ice Melt Second Highest in Recorded History

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
14 July 2011, 11:26 AM
Anti-Clean Water Act bill endorses toxic slime in Florida
Dead Mojarra/Sand Bream and Jack, west of Franklin Lock, on the Caloosahatchee River. Photo taken on June 13, 2011. (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation)

The U.S. House of Representatives was a in a cruel mood, yesterday, when it passed H.R. 2018, a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting our nation's waterways and drinking supplies—and give that power to the states.

But, don't take my word for why this legislation is so potentially devastating. Just check out these recent pictures of the toxic green algae epidemic in Florida's waterways. The slime—caused by unregulated nutrient runoff from agricultural operations and other sources—is choking the life out of such major rivers as the St. Johns and Caloosahatchee. You can't swim in them, drink from them, or eat fish from them. And, if H.R. 2018 becomes law, you can bet that state legislators will try to keep them that way.

Water in the Caloosahatchee River during the most recent algae outbreak. Photo taken near the bridge at Alva, Florida, June 13, 2011. (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation)

Water in the Caloosahatchee River during the most recent algae outbreak. Photo taken near the bridge at Alva, Florida, June 13, 2011. Photo by Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.
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View David Guest's blog posts
24 June 2011, 3:32 PM
Algae season peaks with warm sun and abundant nutrients
Arlington Boat Ramp off of University Blvd. in Jacksonville during 2005 St. Johns River Bloom Event. (Photo: Neil Armingeon / St. Johns Riverkeeper)

As I write this, half of the 75-mile long Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida is covered by nauseating green slime. It’s a heartbreaking sight – dead fish wash up along the banks, and waterfront homes have a pricey view of a stinking mess.

One dismayed homeowner told me he plans to petition local government to lower his property valuation because his waterfront lifestyle is now so gross that no one would ever want to live there.

It is so bad that local health authorities are warning people not to even touch the water, fish or let their pets near it because it is toxic. This toxic algae outbreak is a direct result of too much phosphorus and nitrogen that comes from fertilizer, sewage and manure pollution.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
12 May 2011, 1:25 PM
Big-business leader describes state's algae-filled waters as clean and healthy

You decide. Check out this picture of Florida's waterways—choked with algae—and choose which of the following quotes best describes the photo. Both speakers were referring to attempts in the state legislature to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating the amount of nutrients flowing from utilities, industry and large-scale farms into Florida's waterways. The nutrients feed an explosion of algae.

Florida Slime

Microcystis bloom in Caloosahatchee River at Olga, Florida approximately a mile and a half west of the Franklin Lock, south side of the river, October 14, 2005. Photo: Richard Solveson

The first quote is from Associated Industries of Florida CEO and President Barney Bishop, speaking at a business symposium:

Ladies and gentleman, we have clean water in Florida... Don't let any environmentalist tell you otherwise. It is clean, it smells good, it looks good.

The next quote is from David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida office for Earthjustice, which Bishop hyperbolically described as being communist-inspired:

These toxic algae outbreaks are a threat to little kids splashing in the shallows, to family pets and to the elderly... We need to clean up this pollution as soon as we can, and that’s what these EPA limits on sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution are all about.

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View David Guest's blog posts
16 February 2011, 2:38 PM
Rep. Rooney seeks to block EPA's water pollution limits

Florida Slime

From the Now We’ve Seen Everything Department (A large and busy department here in the Sunshine State):

Florida Republican Congressman Tom Rooney has introduced language into the federal budget bill to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from implementing important new public health protections for Florida.

As you’ve read in this space before, the EPA’s new water pollution limits are designed to control the public health threat posed by the green slime that continually breaks out on Florida waterways. This horrid slime is fed by partially treated sewage, animal waste and fertilizer pollution. (Pictures here. ) Florida health authorities have had to close swimming areas and drinking water plants because of this toxic algae. The algae outbreaks can cause breathing problems, sores, rashes, illness, and even death.

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View David Guest's blog posts
14 December 2010, 11:01 AM
Industry-fed politicians fight court order to cleanse the waters
"As Stoneman Douglas warned: we're not done." (Mark Wallheiser)

Many years ago, a friend of mine was just starting out in the environmental movement, and the late Florida environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (she authored the classic Everglades: River of Grass) offered some advice.

If you're going to do this kind of work, prepare to have your heart broken, because even when you win, you're never done.

So it is with our landmark lawsuit to get enforceable limits on the amount of sewage, fertilizer and animal waste that run into Florida's public waters. Even though we've had bright green slime covering rivers and lakes, even though health authorities had to close famed Florida beaches because of pollution, and even though drinking water has been fouled, polluters and misguided politicians continue to fight cleanup.

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View David Guest's blog posts
16 November 2010, 2:33 PM
Rules aimed at fertilizer and waste flows ruining state waterways
Julington Creek Marina. 347 ug/l, M. aeruginosa. Photo taken on July 31, 2009. (Florida Water Coalition)

Our long fight to get clear standards to control pollution from fertilizer, animal waste, and sewage hit a major milestone this week (Nov. 15), when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new, enforceable limits in Florida—the first ever in the U.S.

EPA scientists worked in conjunction with scientists at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to set these important limits on excess nutrients—phosphorus and nitrogen—which are wrecking waters in Florida and all over the U.S.

This first set of new EPA standards governs nutrient discharges into Florida's freshwaters and lakes. The limits will be phased in so that industries have time to make needed changes to clean up dirty discharges.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 October 2010, 11:51 AM
They ask EPA to delay cleaning Florida waterways
Green slime caused by polluted waters

The EPA committed to set these new limits after Earthjustice, representing Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, sued in 2008.

It turns out that these former secretaries are at drastically at odds with public opinion. The EPA reports that it has received 22,000 public comments on the proposed new nutrient pollution standards, and 20,000 of those comments were in support of the standards.

People want clean water! Sadly, Florida is rock bottom in the U.S. in terms of protecting its waters from pollution. Across the United States, scientists report that 30 percent of bays and estuaries and 44 percent of streams have unsafe water. But in Florida, it is much worse—more than 98 percent of the state's bays and estuaries, and more than 54 percent of its streams, are unsafe to swim and/or fish in. The BP oil spill disaster this summer showed us that even the possibility of pollution can chase away Florida's number-one economic engine—tourism.

View David Guest's blog posts
18 August 2010, 10:34 AM
They ask Congress to keep the toxic good times flowing
St. John's River algae infestation - Courtesy Jacksonville University

Florida's St. John's River is fouled this summer with green slime, and dead fish are washing up on its shores. Every time it rains, nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen poison this river and others all over Florida. The poison comes from sewage, animal manure and fertilizer.

It is a crisis big enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed in November 2009 to set the first-ever legal limits for nutrient poisoning.

But, now, polluters are trying to derail efforts to clean up Florida's waters. They arrived enmasse recently at Congress, where they met with numerous federal lawmakers to try getting a rider put on the federal appropriations bill. The rider would, unbelievably, prevent EPA from setting important new limits on nutrient pollution. The rider may be introduced in a few weeks.

6 Comments   /  
View David Guest's blog posts
19 January 2010, 2:36 PM
Limits on nutrient pollution will quell waterways scourge

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.

The proposed limits on nutrient pollution aren't as stringent as we would like, but they are a huge improvement. All you have to do is look at the green slime covering lakes, rivers, and shorelines during our warm months to know it is worth the investment to reduce fertilizer runoff, control animal waste better, and improve filtration of sewage. The most cost-effective way to handle this problem is to deal with it at its source.

This is the first time the EPA has been forced to impose such limits on a state.The change in policy comes more than a year after Earthjustice filed a major lawsuit to force the EPA to set strict limits on nutrient poisoning in public waters.

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