What happens in state legislation surrounding the Gulf of Mexico is important to everyone, especially when laws being passed or changed are relative to the environment.
The Gulf’s $20 billion tourism industry and the muliti-billion dollar fishing industry are often the first to come to mind when thinking of the Gulf. Many of us quickly realized the large percentage of shrimp and oysters that came from the Gulf after we started seeing the affects of the BP Horizon Oil Spill. Gulf beach tourism was affected. We saw photos of oily birds and fish, and then more and more dead birds, turtles, fish, and even dolphins. The entire U.S. has felt the discomfort of rising gas prices in our pocketbooks.
Much of the pain and suffering still continues now even a year after the dreadful oil disaster. Many of us had hoped that the attention from this tragedy would help our country’s leaders, citizens, corporations, and friends begin to realize and appreciate the paramount role our waters play in our lives and our futures. Unfortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is continually threatened by legislation.
On a national level, and fueled by the rising prices of gasoline, the Republican-controlled House easily passed the last of three bills to expedite and expand oil and gas drilling today in a 243-179 vote.
In the State of Florida, the Legislature reduced money for the Everglades, approved a proposal that would make it difficult for the public to challenge development and environmental permits, and passed a bill that prohibits local governments from passing ordinances that ban sales of fertilizer.
The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world, but it contains one of the largest dead zones. The dead zone is caused by nutrient enrichment, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous that enter through runoff of fertilizers, animal wastes, and sewage. Algae growth increases, the food chain is altered, and dissolved oxygen in the area is depleted. The hypoxic water has been linked to massive fish kills. Studies are still being done to determine how much more dead zone has been created by the BP Horizon spill.
To address this issue, we need to lessen the amount of unhealthy runoff from fertilizers, animal wastes, septic systems, sewage treatment facilities, and irresponsible disasters caused by industry – including those of a catastrophic nature such as the BP Horizon Oil Disaster. We, as citizens need to be aware of the issues and how they affect the environment, our health, and our futures. Our current political climate favors the rights of corporations over the individual rights of citizens and the environment.
Let’s speak up against dumping fertilizers, sewage, and oil into our precious waters. Our oceans are paramount to our existence – and we are increasingly more and more important to theirs.