Florida gets D+ in Gulf States Report Card listen09/02/09 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Floridaâ€™s water quality protections get only a D+ rating, according to a report released today by the Gulf Restoration Network. The report rates all five Gulf of Mexico states on how they implement and enforce the Clean Water Act.
Matt Rota is water resources program director for the Gulf Restoration Network. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, Rota said that all the states from Texas to Florida scored poorly because they do not include important parts of the Clean Water Act in state regulations or protect state water quality with policies recommended by the EPA.
Floridaâ€™s worst grade came in the category that rates nutrient pollution. Algae blooms off the coast are caused in part because Florida doesnâ€™t do enough to stop nutrients from entering the Gulf after summer storms, says Cris Costello, the Sierra Clubâ€™s regional representative in Sarasota.
The director of Florida PEER, Jerry Phillips, blames the stateâ€™s environmental regulators. He says that giving polluters only modest civil penalties is a â€œpay to pollute policy.â€
But it wasnâ€™t all bad news for Floridaâ€™s Gulf waters. The environmentalists say that the state has the opportunity to clean up its act. One way to start, according to the Sierra Clubâ€™s Cris Costello, is by enacting strong fertilizer ordinances such as the one recently passed by the City of St. Pete.