The horrible news detailed by Hunter about the GoM dead zones now has a equally disturbing kill zone on Florida's Atlantic Coast. Unfortunately, Rick Scott is the Governor of Florida and he has vetoed any attempt to help end and solve the mystery die offs.
The Indian River Lagoon is the most diverse ecosystem in North America. According to Wiki.
The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most diverse estuary with more than more than 4,300 species of plants (2,100) and animals (2,200), including 35 that are listed as threatened or endangered — more than any other estuary in North America. The Lagoon varies in width from .5 to 5 miles (0.80 to 8.0 km) and averages 4 feet (1.2 m) in depth. It serves as a spawning and nursery ground for many different species of oceanic and lagoon fish and shellfish. The lagoon also has one of the most diverse bird populations anywhere in America. Nearly 1/3 of the nation’s manatee population lives here or migrates through the Lagoon seasonally. In addition, its ocean beaches provide one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere.But recently 46 emaciated and sunburned Bottlenose dolphins are washing up dead in the lagoon. In addition, 111 Manatees and 300 pelicans have also been noted deceased. The mystery here is that huge algae blooms have killed off 47,000 acres of sea grass. That fact may explain the deaths of the manatees who graze on that plant, but it does not explain the deaths of the dolphins and pelicans who feed on fish.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that scientists believe it may be due to one or several causes: fertilizer-laced stormwater runoff, polluted water dumped from Lake Okeechobee by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, climate change and effects on acidity, changes in water temperature and salt levels, and overflow from contaminated mosquito-control ditches.
The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University was counting on $2 million in state funds to study the dead bodies piling up at Indian River Lagoon.
Except Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the research project in May, writing in his veto letter “While some water projects may also contribute to a statewide objective, not all projects demonstrate an ability to contribute to a statewide investment.”
Since Scott took office in 2009, his smaller government approach has slashed regulation and conservation programs, reports the Broward New Times.
In 2009, Rick Scott campaigned for governor on a platform of creating smaller state government and fewer regulations. Once in office, he forfeited environmental oversight and weakened the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). He did that by eliminating key growth management and conservation programs. Among them:The Broward New Times continues:
• He cut the budgets of water management districts that control sites such as the Everglades and the Indian River Lagoon by $700 million — eliminating more than 300 positions from the South Florida Water Management District alone.
• He axed $150 million from the DEP's budget and placed former shipyard executive Herschel Vinyard in charge with Jeff Littlejohn, whose father runs a Tallahassee lobbying firm, as second-in-command.
• He dismantled the Department of Community Affairs, the $800-million-per-year state agency that monitored development, calling it a "job killer" that stymied business.
• He ended an initiative begun under Jeb Bush in 2001 to protect the state's thousand-plus springs. The initiative had spent more than $25 million before it was defunded.
Scientists and environmentalists describe Scott's policies as faulty and shortsighted. They claim an aquatic ecosystem collapse will kill the economy. Indeed, studies of the Indian River Lagoon and the Everglades count the economic value of the waterways in the billions. Every dollar invested in restoration yields $4 in return, according to a 2010 report conducted by Mather Economics for the Everglades Foundation.
The DEP issues permits with little regard for sustainability, he says. This practice leads to developers polluting and overpumping the Floridan Aquifer, which supplies drinking water to millions of people. Pollution has led to blue-green algal blooms and weak flows throughout the state's enormous spring system. And overpumping can lead to sinkholes.Rick Scott must be defeated. His assault against the environment is really beyond compare. We can not even study what is going wrong here. Really Governor?
Veteran scientists at the DEP are afraid to speak out, Knight says, because department heads force out dissenters. In 2012, the Tampa Bay Times discovered the agency had suspended wetlands expert Connie Bersok for refusing a permit for a controversial ranch project. The agency then ignored her advice and issued the permit. An administrative judge later ruled that Bersok should never have been suspended and lambasted the DEP for granting the permit.
Then there is the wider issue of waterway quality standards. This past March, the DEP wrested control from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for setting nutrient water quality standards. Nutrients, such as the nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizer, fuel algae growth. David Guest, managing attorney for the environmental group EarthJustice, says the DEP will create some of the weakest standards in the nation. "When you have a pollution problem, [the DEP's] solution is to legalize and not to deal with it," Guest says. Scott signed the bill to put the DEP back in charge last week.
Please watch the video clip. This is horrific news.