Gulf's Dead Zone Is the Size of Connecticut
Activists sue EPA to get stricter regulations
By Shelley Hazen, Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2014 12:47 PM CDT
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(Newser) – A Connecticut-sized swath of oxygen-deprived waters off the Gulf Coast is a "poster child for how we are using and abusing our natural resources," says one researcher in Louisiana. In its 30th annual survey, the Louisiana Marine Consortium shows the dead zone has shrunk to about 5,000 square miles and may have stabilized, reports Reuters. (It previously measured as many as 8,200 square miles.) Still, the Gulf Coast dead zone remains second in size only to one off Finland; it extends along the Louisiana coastline from the Mississippi River Delta to the border with Texas. Since the 1960s, nitrogen fertilizer, mostly from Midwest cornfields, has been drawn into streams and rivers by rainwater and poured straight into the Gulf via the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, the Times-Picayune explains. There it feeds algae blooms that turn oxygen into carbon dioxide when it decays—poor conditions for fish and shrimp. Nitrates and nitrogen levels continue to increase, the scientists say.

The EPA has tried to shrink the dead zone to 1,991 square miles since 2001 and isn’t making progress. Environmental groups have sued the agency to force its hand in adopting needed regulations to reduce harmful runoff. "We keep being told by both regulators and industry that a hands-off approach … is working just fine, but the Dead Zone is clearly not going away," one attorney tells the Times-Picayune. Louisiana legislators claim the dead zone is natural and want to remove its Gulf waters from the "impaired waters list," reports Nature World News. Activists say similarly harmful algae blooms in both Ohio and Florida prove current efforts aren’t working. (In other bad news about algae blooms, toxic blooms are so common in Ohio that summertime swimming bans are "routine.")

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Showing 3 of 36 comments
HardDriver
Sep 11, 2014 2:52 AM CDT
Besides all the oil that was spilled into the Gulf, I'm sure the millions of gallons of Correxit really helped with the quality of the water in the Gulf. Not. BP and all the companies involved in that fiasco should be sued out of existence.
VENTURA for PRESIDENT
Sep 3, 2014 11:07 AM CDT
We absolutely deserve every bit of the environmental catastrophes coming our way in the next several decades. Every last bit. We deserve to die off from poisoning the hell out of every facet of our ecosystems, and get the same kind of sympathy we show to the flora and fauna we shove out of the way, onto increasingly smaller bits of poisoned/polluted/littered land to make more room than we could possibly need for ourselves. Absolutely none. Humanity is committing suicide by profit. And we deserve it for all the wildlife we've killed along the way, FOR NOTHING.
Debra
Aug 26, 2014 10:34 PM CDT
http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/zone.cfm