Friday, August 23, 2013

The Lake O Shit Show (continued) ... by gimleteye

The press statement from non-profit environmental groups calls "for real action" at yesterday's hearing of the Florida legislature in Stuart, tapping Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the wrist for the flood of disgusting water from the diseased liquid heart of Florida destroying the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers.

Being non-profits and prohibited by law from election activities leaves out the key fact: the only action that counts is removing politicians from office responsible for carnage in private property and the environment due to toxic slime and electing new ones who will reject the status quo.

Environmental groups that tread lightly to preserve their standing among the political elite in Florida do little more than provide "cover" for the radical right. Under the guise of keeping a seat at the political table in Tallahassee or Washington -- and without a strategy for engaging the voters -- do more harm than good. They perpetuate the myth of progress, when the only metrics of success are little steps that taken independently or as a group add up to no change at all. They keep contributions flowing, perhaps, to fulfill programming and staff needs, but in kow-towing to the concert of special interests, managed by the right wing message machine, they aid and abet the dumbing down of voters.

The only real action that counts is upsetting the political order that is causing so much damage to Florida. That starts with the chief executive officer: Gov. Rick Scott and the political commanders who have destroyed growth management in Florida, successfully promoted environmental regulations that destroy the environment, and take political money relentlessly from the Great Destroyers.

Press Statement
Gov. Rick Scott's "Band Aid" for Indian River Lagoon Is Not Enough
Environmental and Citizen Groups Rally, Call for Real Action
August 22, 2013

STUART, FL. - A coalition of environmental groups rallied in front of a state Senate Select Committee and said government must act - not order more studies - to stop toxic algae outbreaks like the one that's making people sick and killing scores of dolphins, manatees, birds and fish in the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee River.

"This is an emergency," said Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone. "We need a statewide emergency management plan to deal with it. Our waters are literally being studied to death."

Members of the Sierra Club, Florida Wildlife Federation, Earthjustice, Florida Oceanographic Society and Conservancy of Southwest Florida said state and federal officials have known about pollution problems from sewage, manure and fertilizer for 30 years, and have yet to take meaningful action to stop the problem at its source.

"We know how to prevent this pollution and we need to start doing it," Jackalone said.

Toxic algae outbreaks like the one sliming the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary on the southeast coast and the Caloosahatchee and its Gulf of Mexico estuary on the southwest coast are causing a public health crisis and an economic nightmare - killing wildlife, hurting property values and devastating tourism revenue.

The groups say that action to stem the pollution must start now. Septic tanks need to be cleaned out and connected to treatment plants, failing sewer lines that pour sewage into the estuary need to be replaced, sewage treatment plants must be upgraded, fertilizer ordinances must be adopted statewide, and, most importantly, agricultural pollution - the primary source of the filthy water into Lake Okeechobee - needs to be regulated.

The groups called Gov. Rick Scott's announcement that he will propose $40 million worth of taxpayer money in his budget for a system to treat polluted agricultural runoff from Lake Okeechobee a "Band-aid" that only treats symptoms, not the cause. And it only addresses a fraction of the sewage, manure, and fertilizer runoff called "nutrient pollution" that's sliming springs, rivers, lakes and bays all over Florida.

"Both the state and federal governments have slime on their hands," said Earthjustice attorney Monica Reimer. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible because it is not fixing a failing 80-year-old reservoir system that's operated at the behest of Big Sugar, instead of for the citizens of this state. The state is responsible because it is sending filthy water into Lake Okeechobee and refusing to control the pollution at its source. Taxpayers end up paying for the cleanup because government isn't doing its job to prevent this."

Public records show that Gov. Scott's office is not taking the public health threat seriously.

The records of belated water testing by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection show that algae toxin levels in the St. Lucie River estuary have reached levels 2,875 times the safe limit for human recreational activities. They also reveal algae is present which produce neurotoxins that affect the brain, but no further testing for those neurotoxins was done. Published scientific research has confirmed the widespread presence of a type of cyanotoxin linked to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's-like symptoms in Florida coastal waters, yet no testing for that cyanotoxin was performed.
Instead of preventing the pollution problem at its source, Gov. Scott's Administration has been allowing polluter lobbyists to write their own loophole-ridden mumbo-jumbo that does little to regulate the sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution that sparks these nasty toxic algae outbreaks. The new Florida "standards" on nutrient pollution leave the following waters without nutrient pollution limits: All South Florida flowing waters, all canals, all tidal creeks, all intermittent streams, and all "physically altered flowing waters that are used for water management."

Together, these exceptions account for two-thirds of all Florida flowing waters. Most pollution entering Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades comes from tributaries in the Northern Everglades. Under Scott's polluter-friendly scheme, most of those tributaries would be exempted from protection.

"On the west coast, we have dead oyster beds, poisoned drinking water, and algae outbreaks off Sanibel Island and the Caloosahatchee River," said Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida. "The fact is, the state is not protecting the public. Every citizen deserves clean water and the appropriate measures are not in place to protect our waters and our tourist-driven economy."

"Gov. Scott and the DEP are dropping the ball on protecting public health, and the Florida Legislature is letting them get away with it," said Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller.

Since he took office, Gov. Scott has eviscerated the very state programs designed to manage and prevent this kind of pollution. The governor drastically reduced state land-buying (which provides natural filtering,) slashed Everglades restoration funding, hacked the budgets of the state Water Management Districts and the DEP, fired many experienced enforcement and scientific staffers, eliminated the state land-planning agency, and approved weak, polluter-friendly water standards.

And last spring, the Legislature voted down a measure which would have required state authorities to track the number of children and adults diagnosed with skin rashes, acute respiratory illness, and gastrointestinal symptoms after coming in contact with algae-infested waters. The measure would have also required the Florida DEP to make public the number of dogs and livestock that died within 3 hours of exposure to algae- infested waters; the number of manatees that died within 30 days of exposure to algae outbreaks; and the number of seabirds that died within 30 days of exposure to algae outbreaks.


Frank Jackalone, Florida Staff Director, Sierra Club; (727) 824-8813 x302
Monica Reimer,Earthjustice Attorney; (850) 228-0095
Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation; (850) 567-7129
Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; (239) 961-1900
Mark Perry, Florida Oceanographic Society; (772)225-0505 x103

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