Editorials and Opinion
Editorial: Dirty water politics (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 09/04/14)
"The idea originally was to bring clarity to what waters and wetlands fall under Environmental Protection Agency purview, as ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress. But so far, the only thing that is clear is that the opposition, led by Congressman Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, are more concerned about protecting big business and agriculture interests than protecting our state's steadily deteriorating rivers, lakes and springs. Southerland has introduced a bill in Congress, disingenuously named the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act," or H.R. 5078, that would virtually strip the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of any authority over Florida waterways and wetlands. ... The state's recent track record on water — slashed water-management budgets, relaxed water standards, lax enforcement and declining water quality and supply — hardly gives us reason to trust Florida's leaders to do right by our wetlands and waterways."
EDITORIAL: Dead zone shows Bay's pollution problems (Virginian-Pilot, 09/03/14)
"After 30 years of trying and failing to do something about such problems, the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in to enforce a pollution diet on states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed....the thought of farmers and residents having to clean up their operations sparked a lawsuit from the American Farm Bureau Federation, homebuilders, chicken and pork growers and fertilizer makers. They've been joined by 21 states and several dozen members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, all from Virginia. Before the courts could hear the case, winter and spring rains this year washed a substantial amount of nitrogen and phosphorous off the bay's upstream farms and neighborhoods, and summer warmth made conditions just right for algae to grow in the Chesapeake. And, once again, it became clear that the Farm Bureau, the Dirty 21, and several dozen misguided lawmakers are on the wrong side of science, the environment and the Chesapeake Bay."
Editorial: Don't weaken laws to protect Florida waters (Tampa Bay Times [FL], 09/03/14)
"The proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers would establish more clearly which waters deserve protection under the 1972 Clean Water Act. Two U.S. Supreme Court opinions have for the past decade clouded the issue of whether the federal law applies only to navigable waters. ... The federal rule merely clarifies what streams and wetlands would be protected.... Florida Republicans used the same tactic of misinformation several years ago on behalf of the state's biggest polluters to fight the federal government over clean water standards. They had the wrong allegiance then and they have the wrong allegiance now. Florida's congressional delegation should be the last ones urging Congress to weaken a law that protects some of this state's most precious resources."
EDITORIAL: Still Time for a Conservation Legacy (New York Times, 09/02/14)
"Wednesday is the 50th birthday of two of the nation’s most important environmental statutes: the Wilderness Act and the law establishing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For those with long memories, it also commemorates a time when Congress could act productively in a bipartisan spirit that yielded not only these two laws but, within a few short years, landmark protections for clean air, clean water and endangered species. ... Neither law is getting the support it deserves from Congress."
EDITORIAL: Ghost wings: 100 years ago the last passenger pigeon died (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [PA] , 09/01/14)
"The Endangered Species Act has allowed the miraculous comeback of birds like the bald eagles that nest within Pittsburgh’s city limits. But today government regulation is seen as a bogeyman and the Environmental Protection Agency is continually under attack. Next time such myopic sentiments are expressed, pause and hear the beating of ghost wings in the sky, carrying wisdom and warning from the past."
Editorial: Manatees still need maximum protection status (St. Augustine Record [FL] , 08/19/14)
"Federal Fish & Wildlife folks are looking at removing the manatee from the endangered list, under threat of a lawsuit by a group described as having a libertarian bent.... The group that sued is the Pacific Legal Foundation (on behalf of Save Crystal River Inc. — made up largely of economic interests in the area that don’t agree with off-limits manatee zones and lots of idle-speed zones set up to protect the lumbering sea cows from injury or death by the props of outboard motors).... The suffocation of the Indian River Lagoon system, which covers nearly 40 percent of Florida’s east coast, is a strong cause for concern for the health of manatee stocks over the next few years — or far beyond. It makes sense to keep their classification at the endangered level until all effects can be studied."
EDITORIAL: Our View: The Wilderness Act has earned its keep (Idaho Statesman, 08/17/14)
"In an age of legislative gridlock characterized by polarized views on public lands ...would things such as the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act (1948) the Clean Air Act (1963) and the Endangered Species Act (1973) have a prayer of passage? ... We Americans have a funny way of resisting big, bold moves at the time of consideration. But generations later, many of these monumental public-land moves gain respect, and we can hardly imagine a time or a future without them."
Journal Times editorial: More must be done to protect state's water supply (Journal Times [Racine, WI], 08/14/14)
"[R]egulations safeguarding water cannot be subject to complaints of “it’s too expensive to comply.” Water is not a profit/loss issue or a standard-of-living issue, it’s a necessity of life. The Legislature should reconsider its weakening of the state’s phosphorus standard and restore the protections to Wisconsin’s sources of drinking water. We don’t want one of our cities to become the next Toledo, or the next Charleston."
Editorial: Toledo water woes a wake-up call; In a modern U.S. city some 400,000 residents went days without water after an algae bloom turned the waters of Lake Erie into something resembling pea soup. (Shreveport Times [LA], 08/10/14)
"This crisis was almost entirely man-made.... Shreveport also takes its water supply from surface water ... This type of algae needs warm temperatures, nitrogen and phosphorus to grow. Nitrogen and phosphorus arrive in lake waters via sewerage overflows and runoff that contains agricultural and residential fertilizers. Humankind is providing the warmer temperatures through climate change.... At the federal level, lawmakers should stand firm behind the Clean Water Act.... There’s no credible scientific counterweight to the prevailing opinion that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity. Yet policymakers continue to wrangle over the reality of climate change as though it’s fringe science. There are sensible steps that can and should be taken to curb human behavior that causes climate change, but it’s a question many lawmakers aren’t taking seriously."
Editorial: Nobody wants to be the next Toledo (Lima News [OH] , 08/10/14)
"Nobody wants to be the next Toledo, where nearly a half million people were told last weekend they couldn’t use city water to drink, bathe or even brush their teeth.... the toxic algae plumes that caused the problem remain in Lake Erie. They are a product of intensive farming, animal confinements, urbanization and industrialization.... A federal commitment to a multi-state effort is essential"
EDITORIAL: We cannot forget to protect our water supply (Morning News [SC], 08/09/14)
"An algae bloom turned the waters of Lake Erie from a crisp blue to a murky green. The algae is fed by toxins from excess nutrients flowing into the water from agricultural areas, urban sewage and industrial waste....Maintaining a water supply that is plentiful and healthy takes a steady flow of funds, restrictions on runoff and comprehensive monitoring programs to ensure compliance. It also calls on us to be responsible. The issues in Toledo were almost entirely man-made."
EDITORIAL: Clean water not something to be taken for granted (Observer-Reporter [PA], 08/09/14)
"Responding to court decisions that weakened the Clean Water Act during the last decade, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now attempting to close loopholes in the law that prevents it from protecting 2 million miles of streams and at least 20 million acres of wetlands around the country. Of course, these wetlands and streams feed into rivers that are our primary sources for drinking water, so conservation efforts aimed at these tributaries would be good for us all and a boon to fishermen, since many fish spawn in small streams."
EDITORIAL: About Lake Erie (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 08/09/14)
"What must Ohio, neighboring states and Canada do to curb the prevalence of the harmful algal blooms that recently triggered the water crisis in Toledo and could bring the same to other communities? Reduce the level of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie. ... Restored wetlands would be helpful.... ultimately means bringing regulations with teeth to the farm industry ... The federal Environmental Protection Agency belongs at the lead, armed with the Clean Water Act. Governors must mobilize their states."
Editorial: No slime-green water for us, please (Cincinnati Enquirer [OH] , 08/09/14)
"The opaque, slime-green water found in Toledo last weekend should be a wake-up call to residents in Ohio and across the country about the need to protect our natural resources."
EDITORIAL: Green, but not with envy (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA] , 08/08/14)
"Lake Erie is not unique. Algae blooms feast on excessive agricultural runoff around the world. The Gulf of Mexico experienced one last year that was as big as Connecticut. Another bloom killed scores of manatees in Florida last year, and still another sickened hundreds of marine mammals along California’s central coast. Yet, public policy is slow to respond, and sometimes has been counterproductive. An initiative that just passed in Missouri, and which is gaining momentum in some other agricultural states, would prevent states from implementing the very measures that would diminish agricultural pollution. Called “right to farm,” it also is a right to pollute."
Editorial: Water warnings (Ocala Star Banner [FL] , 08/08/14)
"It is not hard to imagine either the Lake Erie disaster or the Colorado River Basin crisis occurring here in our own state, in our own community.... Unless our state and local governments begin implementing serious water protection policies — fertilizer restrictions, water permit limits and mandatory conservation measures, for starters — it is possible, even likely, Florida could become both Lake Erie and the Colorado River Basin."
Toxic blooms in western basin of Lake Erie a harbinger of scum to come: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 08/08/14)
"Ohio legislators and the governor's office have yet to show they understand the urgency of the threat and are mobilizing against it.... We know that climate change and invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels play a vital supporting role in compromising the well-being of our fragile freshwater ecosystem – the source of drinking water for 11 million people on both sides of the border. We know that this toxic soup threatens to undo much of what has been achieved in the last 42 years in cleaning up the lake and her watershed since the 1972 Clean Water Act was enacted."
The Register's Editorial: U.S. needs to get serious about water pollution (Des Moines Register [IA] , 08/07/14)
"The water problem that made the news in Toledo is also an issue for bodies of water ranging from Minnesota, California, Cape Cod and Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico — and Iowa.... Iowa agricultural and political leaders oppose setting quantifiable goals for water quality and measuring results within specific watersheds. That opposition must end."
Our View: Pay attention to Toledo's water woes (Erie Times-News [PA], 08/06/14)
"Agricultural runoff and sewage overflows provide nutrients that cause harmful algae blooms to grow and spread. Scientists have also linked the increase in such blooms to climate change.... We need long-term solutions to address the causes of harmful algae blooms, which are also blamed for creating large dead zones in Lake Erie."
EDITORIAL: Toledo's water problems offer NC a warning (News & Observer [NC], 08/06/14)
"New regulations aimed at reducing the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous into Jordan Lake have been suspended by the General Assembly ... The problem of nutrients and drinking water is a major one in North Carolina, but Burkholder said, “It’s simply being ignored.” It’s no longer being ignored in Toledo. North Carolina must take more aggressive action before the problem further threatens drinking water here."
Editorial: Protect vital drinking water (Pocono Record [PA] , 08/06/14)
"Toledo officials issued a drinking water ban after a toxin, from blue-green algae trapped in the lake, appeared in the water system. Algae blooms can kill off plant and animal life in the lake; the toxin poisons freshwater supplies. Scientists say farm fertilizer, city runoff, animal waste from factory farms and possibly even the invasive zebra mussel contribute to the problem. It's also worsened by more frequent, more severe rain associated with climate change.... Perhaps if more people learn how directly climate change can [threaten] health, they will act. No society can survive without clean drinking water."
EDITORIAL: Clean up Lake Erie — now (Toledo Blade [OH] , 08/05/14)
"It’s time to crack down on farms and feeding operations — especially big factory-type enterprises — that refuse to use and dispose of fertilizer and manure responsibly. Voluntary actions taken by some area farmers to reduce runoff have been necessary, but clearly are not sufficient.... In Washington, Congress and the Obama Administration need to increase, not cut, federal aid to restore the Great Lakes and to support local clean-water initiatives,"
EDITORIAL: A threat from our faucets; Toledo water crisis illustrates need for more emphasis on algae fight (Columbus Dispatch [OH], 08/05/14)
"Toledo’s weekend without water was a trial for a half-million people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan, but the real wake-up call is sounding a few hours south — here in Columbus, where lawmakers yesterday pledged to make Ohio’s plague of algae blooms a top priority. That’s appropriate; taking steps to ensure that Ohioans can continue to count on clean, safe drinking water should be Job One."
Editorial: Toledo water crisis must be a wake-up call (Detroit Free Press [MI] , 08/05/14)
"If the impacts of pollution or climate change seem largely theoretical to you, what happened in Toledo should bring it all very, very close to home.... At the federal level, lawmakers should stand firm behind the Clean Water Act. There’s no credible scientific counterweight to the prevailing opinion that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity. Yet policymakers continue to wrangle over the reality of climate change as though it’s fringe science. There are sensible steps that can and should be taken to curb human behavior that causes climate change, but it’s a question lawmakers — particularly on the Republican side of the aisle — aren’t taking seriously. ... If the water crisis in Toledo doesn’t spur voters to demand response and lawmakers to take action, what will?"
EDITORIAL: Urgent call for action against toxic algae (Akron Beacon Journal [OH], 08/04/14)
"Now that the crisis has eased, perhaps state, local and federal leaders will respond with the necessary urgency to implement steps to push back an algal advance that has building since the 1990s....Count heavy rains as aggravating factor, especially as they have become more frequent due to climate change."
Toledo water ban is an indictment of state failure to address toxic algal blooms: editorial (Cleveland Plain Dealer [OH] , 08/04/14)
"Gov. John Kasich needs to take the lead in forming a bipartisan committee to recommend emergency legislation that requires farmers, livestock producers and homeowners to adopt best practices in fertilizer application and the handling of livestock excrement. The legislature needs to pass the restrictions and fund comprehensive monitoring programs to ensure compliance. The lesson of Toledo: Time is not on our side."
Editorial: Don’t let Lake Michigan become another Lake Erie (Chicago Sun Times, 08/04/14)
"In recent years, though, the Lake Erie algae has been back with a vengeance, this time swelled by phosphorus from new agricultural techniques and heavier rains associated with climate change. ... phosphorus is far from the only threat to the Chicago area’s drinking water. Lake Michigan must also be protected from sewage overflows during heavy Chicago storms, industrial pollution from Northwest Indiana and pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and other chemicals that flow into waterways and the lake via treated sewage."