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Florida

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.

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.

Coming from an Irish family and working for Earthjustice, I have an affection for green that is DNA-deep. But, I know the difference between the green of nature and the green of greed -- and nowhere is that difference so starkly obvious as in Florida. An explosion of green algae slime, fed by uncontrolled agricultural and sewage runoff, is taking over that state's famed waterways. It's murdering fish by the thousands, stinking up the air, fouling everything it touchs, and preventing recreation use.

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.

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.

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