Florida’s waterways will be covered with more slimy algae outbreaks if a deeply flawed plan announced today between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to go forward.
“We have record numbers of dead manatees washing up on southwest Florida right now (video), in the prime of our tourist season,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “Where is the leadership? This is an absolute sell out. This bogus plan gives deep-pocketed polluters even more loopholes. And what do we, the public, get? More gross, slimy algae in the water.”
The DEP and EPA’s faulty plan fails to set enforceable limits on the amount of sewage, manure, and fertilizer allowed in Florida waters—especially in South Florida and the ailing Everglades.
These pollutants spark slimy outbreaks which are harming Florida’s tourism business, contaminating drinking water, killing wildlife, and threatening public health. Red tide and algae outbreaks are worsened by runoff containing sewage, manure and fertilizer—so-called “nutrient pollution.”
“Obviously, the environmental regulators are bending to politically powerful polluters instead of protecting the public’s right to have clean water to drink and healthy places to fish, boat and swim,” Guest added.
The flawed plan also comes at a time when Gov. Rick Scott’s Administration is firing experienced DEP staffers and replacing them with people who come from polluting industries.
The EPA first began working to set pollution limits for Florida in 2009—part of a settlement in a 2008 Clean Water Act suit filed by Earthjustice in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John’s Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club. The suit challenged the decade-long delay by the state and federal governments in setting limits for the pollution.
The public supports the EPA pollution limits. In response to a call for action, more than 40,000 citizens wrote the White House in 2012, urging the Obama Administration to stand firm on imposing effective federal standards for Florida waters. More than 18,000 people wrote the EPA this year, urging enforceable limits.