Ladies and gentleman, we have clean water in Florida. Don't let any environmentalist tell you otherwise. It is clean; it smells good; it looks good. — Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida
Barney needs to get out of his bathtub.
I'll take him out on Lake Apopka and he can do a swan dive into its pristine and perfumed waters.
Assuming the black ooze doesn't digest him, he can swim back to shore because I'm not letting him back into my boat.
SEAL Team 6 wouldn't stick a toe in that water, even if the entire al-Qaida leadership was out there fishing.
I like Barney, so I'll attribute his comments to political posturing instead of outright lying.
What prompted this is a move by the feds to impose strict water-pollution restrictions in Florida.
Industries and utilities are lined up to fight them, backed by the full might and fury of Florida's Republican leadership. They see this as nothing but a job-killing power grab by Washington and its jackbooted thugs in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Barney claims EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson "thinks she talks to God." And her allies include the "communist-inspired'' environmentalists.
Barney is getting just a bit shrill in his old age.
It must be something in the water.
Perhaps it's too much nitrogen and phosphorous, which are the focus of the EPA's concern.
These are the main ingredients in poop and fertilizer. They get into lakes and rivers from sewer pipes, farms, septic tanks and front yards. They feed outbreaks of algae that turn water into pea soup.
Some algae are toxic. Some algae congeal in nasty clumps that look like mutant jellyfish.
Most algae sink to the bottom and rot, creating a blanket of black ooze. It sucks the shoes right off your feet.
Algae are taking over Florida's waterways, because Florida is drowning in poop and fertilizer.
It even has saturated the ground and is flowing out of the springs.
I will now reduce a zillion pages of mind-numbing rules and regulations to a few clever and entertaining paragraphs.
To keep water clean, we figure out how much pollution we can dump into it before it becomes dirty.
Defining dirty is the big trick. It requires legions of lawyers, lobbyists, politicians and consultants who get big checks to produce big studies that reach predetermined conclusions.
This is because a strict definition of dirty requires polluters to spend a bunch of money cleaning up their pollution.
Florida has spent years defining dirty in lakes and rivers all over the state, working in concert with the very industries that dump poop and fertilizer in them.
I can assure you of one thing. Having spent my entire life in this state, this ain't working. I've watched Lake Butler, Crystal River and Weeki Wachee Springs all turn green, green and green.
That's just to name a few.
And so, spurred on by a lawsuit from the communist environmentalists to do something about this, the EPA decided to attach numbers to dirty. No more guesswork.
Set a fixed amount of nitrogen and phosphorous allowed in the water. Then put the water under a microscope and do a head count.
If you violate the limit, you have to cut way back on what you're dumping in that lake or river.
In sections of the St. Johns River, you'd pretty much be limited to dumping holy water.
That would require big, big filters at sewage plants, farms and other polluters, all of which would cost big, big bucks.
The EPA claims it would be millions and millions, and well worth it.
The state claims it would be billions and billions, and might not do squat.
This dispute is bigger than just us.
If Florida knuckles under, the feds will move on to other states with their demands for cleaner water. So polluters and mudfish all over the nation are cheering us on.
We are the Maginot Line of dirty water.
Look for millions and millions spent on lawyers and lobbyists.
Florida can challenge EPA's numbers. It can challenge EPA's approach.
But nobody can challenge what is happening to our water.
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