Monday, June 11, 2018

FL Congressman Brian Mast Ventures Where Few Have Gone Before ... by gimleteye

Algae laden drainage canal from Big Sugar lands
To hear Florida Congressman (GOP) Brian Mast lead from the front on the rampant pollution once again coating his district with deadly toxics is refreshing.  Congressman Mast has had enough. Last week he wrote to the US Army Corps of Engineers, urging a halt to all discharges "until the water quality is deemed safe ..."

Here is a brief background. GOP Gov. Rick Scott and the US Army Corps of Engineers are again permitting filthy, algae laden water to puke from Lake Okeechobee onto Florida's badly damaged estuaries and on the shores of property owners and businesses in Martin County on the east coast and Lee County on the west coast.

Yes, we've seen this movie before. It happened in 2013. It happened again in the bizarrely wet winter of 2015/2016. It's pathetic, where the third act involves taxpayers paying $3 billion for an Everglades man-made reservoir that is highly likely to fail at delivering clean water as promised. (Even the Army Corps has stated, as much.)

It will be a decade or longer before this act plays out. Meanwhile it's another season of algae spewing from Lake Okeechobee with toxins that can cause long-term brain damage to people.

The cause of the algae: water management practices that are designed with a primary purpose: keep Big Sugar profits flowing. Of course that is not what the public hears from astro-turf groups in the Everglades Agricultural Area, funded by Big Sugar, or from state propaganda outlets including the sugared-up Sunshine State News.

Mast's statement is interesting for another reason: in the United States, toxics regulation is designed to protect polluters not people. PEOPLE must prove that toxics are damaging to human health (remember, cancer and Big Tobacco?).

Big Sugar was NEVER required to prove its phosphorous pollution was safe for the Everglades.  It took PEOPLE and two decades of federal Clean Water Act litigation to hold government accountable. That's the same Clean Water Act that Trump and his EPA want to dismantle now.

While it may seem common sense -- that government agencies must prove safety of toxics to people -- what Mast wrote is heresy to polluters. In stating the obvious, that government shouldn't be promoting water management district policies that give people Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases, he's pushing against very powerful special interests whose wealth depends on turning other peoples' property and health into sacrifice zones. (Their biggest political assets: Rick Scott who is running for US senate, Adam Putnam who is running for governor, and Matt Caldwell who is running for Agriculture Commissioner.)

Mast's colleagues in the Florida Congressional delegation ought to join in holding government responsible for safety, first. When it comes to toxics, it is about time.


Cyndi said...

Thanks so much! Brian was the only one to speak out at first. Since then a few have but most of our elected officials are running from this. We are keeping tract and we are documenting.
We have a new group
or #toxic18 where we have asked everyone to document where ever they are seeing algae and also sharing events with the multitude of groups so we can all help each other.
Thanks for this post it is right on

Anonymous said...

Mast is also one of few GOP House members to call for a ban on assault rifles (NYT editorial). He and DeSantis both favor ending the sugar subsidy. Big Sugar and its' lovechild Big Algae need to pay for the damages inflicted on the environment (not to mention the ravages of processed sugar on the human body).