National Academies Study Reveals EPA Inaction on Mississippi River Pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Tuesday October 15, 2007CONTACT:Matt Rota, Gulf Restoration Network (504) 525-1528 x206Jeff Grimes, Gulf Restoration Network (504) 525-1528 x205Judy Peterson, Kentucky Waterways Alliance (270) 524-1774National Academy of Sciences study reveals need for immediate EPA action to prevent further pollution of the MississippiA report on the health of the Mississippi River, released today by the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC), reveals that pollution in the Mississippi River, and subsequently the Gulf of Mexico, will continue to get worse unless the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces standards limiting Dead Zone-causing nitrogen and phosphorous pollution.More than 50 cities and 18 million Americans depend on the Mississippi and its tributaries for drinking water. The River is a vital economic, recreational and natural resource to communities up and down its 2300 mile course. The EPA called on states in 1998 to adopt specific limits on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, threatening to enact its own limits if states had not complied by 2001. Every state along the Mississippi has thumbed its nose at that and other deadlines set by EPA, but so far the federal government has not stepped in to supply the urgently needed protections.The NRC Report, Mississippi River Quality and the Clean Water Act, makes clear that the “The EPA has failed to use its mandatory and discretionary authorities under the Clean Water Act to ensure adequate interstate coordination and federal oversight of state water quality activities along the Mississippi River.” The report declares, “as a result of limited interstate coordination, the Mississippi River is an ” orphan’,” from a water quality perspective. Concerned conservationists up and down the river are calling on the EPA to make states step up to the plate, or adopt EPA’s longstanding and scientifically robust recommendations.”EPA’s policy allowing States to drag their feet must stop now,” said Judith Petersen, Executive Director of Kentucky Waterways Alliance. The NAS report provides more than enough evidence that it is time for EPA to get serious and require that states adopt nitrogen and phosphorous pollution limits to protect our nation’s most vital river.” Despite 9 years of foot dragging, EPA’s Assistant Administrator Benjamin Grumbles recently recognized the need for swift action. “In a time of scarce resources and competing priorities, we cannot afford delayed or ineffective responses to this major source of environmental degradation. We can take steps now that will make a difference in addressing the challenges of growing nutrient pollution. The first step is to have numeric nutrient criteria in place.” “There has been a dead zone at the EPA almost as big as the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Matt Rota, Water Resources Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. “The NAS Report should jump-start EPA to act. EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock has the authority to take action, and we ask him to do so today.” ###

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