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  • Writer's pictureBrice Claypoole

The State of Pollution

An image I took one week ago in my neighborhood: hundreds of fish, dead due to red tide.

Florida is famous for water. Our springwater is bottled and shipped around the nation. People come from around the world to visit our beaches and play in our bays. Our coastal waters have supported thriving and vibrant communities for thousands of years. The water is why many of us move here. Our beautiful nature, great fishing, watersports, and white sand beaches are the reasons we find Florida so wonderful.

If you live in Southwest Florida, I am sure you have been affected by degrading water quality. Overgrowth of algae has turned our water brown-green and murky; seagrass meadows have died off, causing the deaths of hundreds of manatees; blue-green (gumbo) algae has choked our canals with mats of stagnant, rotting bacteria. And, as we are feeling so acutely now, the neurotoxic algae, red tide, has intensified hugely, killing thousands of fish, turtles, and marine mammals while taking livelihoods and destroying coastal communities’ quality of life.

It is well established that the cause of these issues is nutrient pollution. Our waters are naturally filled with nutrients originating from innumerable sources, but in recent years, overdevelopment as well as waste from phosphate mining has infused them with extraordinary levels of pollution. These nutrients feed algae including red tide, allowing their abundance to reach unprecedented levels.

No leeway has been made in resolving this issue. The developers and polluters who are responsible for increasing red tides have massive influence over our government, particularly since Citizens United vs. FEC. By financing political campaigns, the corporations which profit while poisoning our waterways have gained the government’s aid in their destructive but lucrative activities. The government has persistently deregulated pollution in return for continued financial support. This has allowed phosphate and development corporations to draw even more profit off the activities that are fueling increasingly intense, year-round, red tides and other algal blooms.

Even as we suffer from the effects of yet another massive red tide bloom, our bought-and-and-paid-for state legislature has introduced several bills to allow further environmental destruction. These include:

These bills are an effort to prohibit local governments from adopting any regulations to prevent water pollution. They would ban local governments from protecting communities from pollutant discharge and wetland destruction. If municipalities attempt to pass laws protecting water quality, funding would be withheld by the state.

These bills prohibit a referendum process that regulates development. This means citizens will no longer be able to vote on development regulations, taking away our say in what developers can do to our community and waters.

This bill labels radioactive waste from phosphate production as “recyclable materials” and directs the DOT to investigate using phosphogypsum in road construction. Upon determination of “suitability,” phosphogypsum could be used as a construction material. This is the phosphate industry’s current attempt to dump the burden of their radium and uranium filled waste upon our already suffering environment.

As intended, these bills will allow the development of virtually all available land at the expense of Florida’s citizens. Coastal communities are already suffering from a terrible quality of life as red tide forces us indoors, kills our wildlife, and endangers those with health issues. It is appalling that our legislature is happy to subject citizens to the misery of constantly worsening water quality to line the pockets of their campaign donors. Contact the legislature and tell them you will not put up with our state being sold to developers and polluters.

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1 Kommentar

23. Apr. 2023

Brice -- just read your excellent article in The Bradenton Times -- and all the positive comments it generated by residents of the area. Fingers crossed that one day you will change the world! G'ma

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