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Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Polluters and for Clean Water

Victory: Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta rules in Favor of EPA settlement with Earthjustice
August 3, 2011
Tallahassee, FL —

A federal appeals court today struck down a challenge filed by polluting industries and upheld a historic clean water settlement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Earthjustice. The 2009 settlement requires EPA to set limits on sewage, fertilizer and manure in Florida’s waterways.

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. (Richard Solveson) View photo slideshow.

Unchecked, the phosphorus and nitrogen in sewage, manure and fertilizer are sparking repeated toxic algae outbreaks in Florida waters. See pictures of toxic algae blooms at Slideshow: Florida Nutrient Pollution and Algae Blooms and Florida Water Coalition's website. These outbreaks are a public health threat because they can make people and animals sick, contaminate drinking water, cause fish kills, and shut down swimming areas. Most recently, the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida was covered with nauseating green slime and rotting fish for weeks.

“The polluters keep trying to use our public waters as their private sewers, but we intend to keep fighting them. They have to take responsibility for their mess,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “Our economy depends on tourism, and nobody wants to come to Florida to look at dead fish and slime-covered water.”

“This court decision is a win for Florida’s families. We should not have to endure the public health threat posed by contaminated rivers, springs, lakes and beaches. We are talking about the water that flows from our kitchen taps. It needs to be clean.”

Anabaena algae bloom in Caloosahatchee River at Franklin Lock, June 17, 2008. (John Cassani) View photo slideshow.

A who’s-who of Florida’s leading polluting industries filed a legal challenge to stop the cleanup in January. The federal court ruled against them today.

“This pollution is preventable. Several courts have now ruled that Florida needs limits on this pollution to keep our water clean.”

“The polluters have been using scare tactics, bogus science, underhanded political bullying, and campaign cash to try to get their way. Fortunately, the Clean Water Act is still a good law that protects ordinary citizens, and it prevailed today.”

Contacts

David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.