David Guest, Tallahassee
See what we get?
Here we go again: Hundreds of rotting, stinking dead fish are washing up on Southwest Florida beaches from a massive red tide outbreak. Tourists and residents are being warned to stay away from the beach and the local economy is at risk again.
While this crisis unfolds, polluter lobbyists in Tallahassee and in Washington are getting their politician friends to push for ineffective standards on the pollution that worsens these outbreaks. We're talking about phosphorus and nitrogen, the so-called "nutrients," which come from sewage, manure and fertilizer.
Polluters basically wrote the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's ineffective rules on this pollution, and they want the state to substitute their loophole-ridden mumbo jumbo for the clear, enforceable standards developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Gov. Rick Scott is pushing the weak, substitute rules.
We need the EPA's strong rules, because they set enforceable numeric limits on the pollutants in our waters. The EPA's rules are easy-to-read speed limit signs. The rules that Gov. Scott is pushing are ridiculous — they would only require pollution control after waters have been already slimed – and that means the damage is done and taxpayers will pay for expensive clean-up.
Now it's up to President Barack Obama: will he back Rick Scott's proposal, or support EPA's?
So far, citizens have sent more than 34,000 letters to the White House, urging Obama to enforce the EPA's standards. We have formed a citizen's group called the Florida Water Coalition, and you can learn more – and send an alert to the White House — by visiting floridawatercoalition.org.