‘Dead zone’ fight finally coming alive

October 05, 2009 at 9:03 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

At last, some enforceable measures are on the horizon to lessen the entry of fertilizer overruns into the Mississippi River and consequently reduce the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico that results.

U. S. Department of Agriculture has announced that it will use $320 million in the next four years to locate farms in 12 states along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers that are contributting the most to the runoff. And, apparently, those farms will be penalized by getting less government subsidy for their production, which is part of the economic picture in commercial agriculture today.

The fertilizer which enters the rivers flows down to the lower Mississippi and then into the Gulf where it flowers into algae blooms that use up the oxygen in the water. And the absence of it kills the fish.

The federal government has left it up to the states  in the past to enforce restriction on fertilizer overflow into the rivers. But with the great incentives to produce more crops due to the emergence of ethanol production and, consequently, money from their sale and subsidies, that method was ineffective.

So it is time to change the way we are protecting our fish-producing waterways from the fish-killing process of robbing them of life-giving oxygen. In the heat of summer, the “dead zone” dimensions along the Louisiana coast increases to some 6,000 square miles which is the size of the state of Connecticut.

Here we are in the midst of our so-called “green” era and we are letting farmers get away with making our waterways unsuitable for fishlife.

Sure, we wish the mid-western farmers well in production of their crops. But they have no right to infect the waters that flow down to our fish-producing coast with substances that will rob it of life-giving oxygen.

The time has long past for voluntary action on the part of farmers and the states. We need the USDA to go full-speed ahead on measures that will stop them from creating such a huge “dead zone” along our coast.

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