The Latest On: Water
Maybe it's a good thing that Bush has kept Earthjustice so busy these last eight years, fending off unrelenting assaults on the environment. The experience is proving invaluable as we face, in these final weeks of the administration, a frantic effort to roll back some of the nation's most significant protections. We also are encountering a barrage of last-minute attempts to convert America's wild, public treasures into private, commercial commodities.
With a single vote on Dec. 2, Florida took real leadership in the fight against global warming.
After years of head-in-the-sand policy making, this is a welcome change. We have Gov. Charlie Crist to thank: he proposed that Florida adopt clean car standards patterned after those in California.
Smack in the middle of a groundwater shortage that had Southwest Florida officials begging people to use as little water as possible, agricultural operations opened their pumps wide and flooded millions of gallons of water wastefully over their fields.
They had legal permits to do this, permits issued by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a taxpayer-funded water authority. We sued the water management district two years ago. On October 30, a Florida Appeals Court finally ruled in our favor.
With the election of Barack Obama, our nation's long, dark environmental night appears to be ending. By all early indications an era of opportunity will replace eight years of opposition in which Earthjustice was forced to play a mostly defensive role.
This is the moment we've been waiting for, and with your continued support, we are set to pursue ambitious goals on behalf of the environment.
We won a significant victory in our phosphate case on Oct. 6. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit that gave Mosaic Phosphate the go-ahead to destroy 480 acres of high-quality wetlands within Southwest Florida's Peace River watershed.
Our court case is ongoing, but the Corps decision to suspend the permit shows that the permit didn't comply with the law and should never have been granted.
In its letter, the Corps said: "The Corps has determined that it is in the public interest to revisit the analysis in support of the permit decision."
The phosphate mines in Florida are so damaging that their ugly scars on the planet can be clearly seen from space. Florida's public rivers, lakes, streams, and coastal waters pay the price for these corporate strip mines, year after year.
Attorney Monica Reimer in Earthjustice's Florida office has filed an important lawsuit that challenges federal approval for one of these mines near the beautiful Peace River outside Bradenton.
By this time, most everyone has heard about the historic deal in the Florida Everglades: U.S. Sugar will sell the state of Florida 187,000 acres that sit between giant Lake Okeechobee and Everglades National Park.
That's 187,000 acres that will no longer be drenched with poison pesticides and fertilizers. It is industrial farmland that blocks the Everglades' natural water flow—now it can hold and filter water as it moves south toward Florida Bay.
To say we're ecstatic down here is a massive understatement. This is the largest conservation deal in Florida history.
At the very end of the current term of the Supreme Court, the justices announced that they will review a Ninth Circuit decision that forbids Coeur Alaska, a mining company, from dumping mine tailings into Lower Slate Lake north of Juneau, Alaska.
This is not the best news of the week.
The company admits that the tailings will essentially kill all life in the lake but that restoration can be undertaken later. The Army Corps of Engineers, which issued permits for the mine, agreed with Coeur.