Florida Attorney General Pamela Jo Bondi (pictured at left) cast a cloud over the sunshine state last week. She joined with 20 other state Attorneys General across the country in filing a brief to support the American Farm Bureau, the Fertilizer Institute, and their allies in a legal appeal to overturn EPA pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay.
Their reason for involving themselves in a lawsuit so far from their own borders? These states (which include Texas, Alaska, and Kansas) worry that if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Chesapeake Bay region states are successful in their cooperative effort to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, these other states might have to reduce their pollution, too.
That sounds more like a promise than a threat. But the folks driving this campaign against clean water are anti-regulatory and anti-EPA. Apparently, they think that even the moderate, science-based, collaborative approach being used so successfully in the Chesapeake Bay region is a threat to their comfortable status quo. Therefore, these opponents have concluded the Chesapeake Bay cleanup must be stopped before it spreads to other regions, including the huge Mississippi River drainage area.
The action by the 21 states is “a declaration of environmental war,” according to The Baltimore Sun’s editorial page.
But to be accurate here: It is not really 21 states that have declared war on the Chesapeake cleanup effort. It is wrong-headed 21 Attorneys General, mostly in the Midwest and West, who are fighting against clean water.
Florida, for example, should be worried about cleaning up its own rivers and restoring the Everglades, not trying to interfere with our own effort to clean up our local waterways hundreds of miles away. We are trying to save our blue crabs and oysters. Florida should focus on trying to save its own troubled manatees and a beautiful state being overrun by sprawl development.
The novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen apologized on behalf of the residents of Florida to the people of the Chesapeake Bay region. “We had nothing to do with this ridiculous lawsuit,” Hiaasen wrote in a recent column.
“We know first-hand the terrible impact of water pollution, and we truly want your Chesapeake Bay to be clean.” Hiaasen wrote that there is a “perverse irony in the fact that the administration (of Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Bondi) is spending public dollars to defend polluters up North while our own most precious waterways are being poisoned.”
“Fertilizer runoff from lawns and other pollution has killed thousands of acres of sea grass in the Indian River Lagoon (along Florida’s east coast), and it’s the prime suspect in a steep rise in deaths of manatees and bottle-nosed dolphins," Hiaasen wrote. "Scott and Bondi are wasting Florida’s legal budget fighting faraway projects like the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, which is actually a model of sensible cooperation between the states and the feds. Scott and Bondi don’t care. Both are up for re-election this year, and are banking on hefty donations from developers and Big Agriculture. That’s the only reason they stuck their noses into this lawsuit,” Hiaasen wrote.
To sign a petition urging Florida and the other 20 states to not interfere with the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, click here.
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Photo of Pam Bondi from Florida Attorney General's Office. Picture of Manatee from Tracy Colson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)