Guest column: The Conservancy: Florida Needs to Stop Its Dirty Water Lawsuit

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By Jennifer Hecker

Naples

Director of Natural Resource Policy

Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Last week the state of Florida used your tax dollars to take legal action to try to stop the clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay in the mid-Atlantic region.

While dirty water abounds here at home, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a brief against the Bay clean-up plan — along with the polluters (the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Council, The Fertilizer Institute, National Beef Cattleman’s Assoc., etc.).

These are the same types of polluting industries we’ve been trying to get to capture and treat the pollution that they generate here in Florida. They are also the same polluting interests that joined Bondi in suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fight protective enforceable water quality standards for controlling fertilizer, sewage and agricultural runoff into Florida’s waters for drinking, swimming and fishing.

As both Florida’s waters and the Chesapeake are being polluted by nutrient pollution, having an effective nutrient pollution clean-up plan for the Chesapeake means Florida’s polluters could have to do more to treat their own pollution on-site, rather than disposing of it in our waterways.

This would save us from having to pay more of the ever-increasing costs of declining tourism and real estate values, as well as for additional publicly funded clean-up projects.

We understand why the polluters would fight the clean-up of the Chesapeake, but are confounded and outraged as to why our state would.

This cannot be credibly portrayed as a state’s rights issue, as the Chesapeake Bay states signed and supported the clean-up plan. This also cannot be portrayed as protecting Floridian’s interest, as this is not in Florida and would set a negative precedent in having effective clean-up plans for Florida’s waters.

Contact Florida Gov. Rick Scott (850-488-7146) and Bondi (850-414-3990) to tell them they need to stop and withdraw this dirty water lawsuit immediately; using our tax dollars to clean up Florida’s polluted waters instead.

And to the people of the Chesapeake, we as Floridians apologize that our state leadership would try to prevent you from having a clean bay for you to safely enjoy. Please know we want you to have clean water, just as much as we want it for ourselves.

For more information on the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, visit www.conservancy.org.

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