Florida's Former Environment "Protectors" Are Pals of Polluters
They ask EPA to delay cleaning Florida waterways
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.
Florida has 22 major beaches that are unsafe to swim for at least two weeks out of every year. The state ranks fourth-worst for drinking water quality in the U.S. and tenth in the number of Clean Water Act permit violations. Pensacola was ranked as the worst in the nation for drinking water, followed closely by Jacksonville at tenth worst.
And now these former secretaries have the gall to try to delay cleanup? It is the worst sort of politics—even by Florida’s standards.
As we told in this space you last month, a 100-mile stretch of the St. John’s River was covered with toxic green slime this summer, spurring fish kills and sending people to the emergency rooms. If these former secretaries had been doing their jobs, this would not have happened.
David Guest worked at Earthjustice from 1990 to 2016, as the managing attorney of the Florida regional office. His countless legal battles were, in one way or another, all about water. His motivation to protect Florida’s water came from years of running boats in the state’s rivers and lakes, which convinced him that waterways are many people’s spiritual connection to nature.
For decades, the Florida regional office has worked to strengthen regulations to clean up Florida’s waterways and ensure that government and industry are held accountable and the public is informed and engaged.