Making Minnows Happy Is Important to Special Interests

By: Lloyd Brown | Posted: March 18, 2014 3:55 AM
From the Right Coast

In marshes somewhere south of Lake Helen Blazes, the St. Johns River is formed.

It slowly meanders north – one of only a few rivers in North America that flow in that direction. Near the end of its 300-mile journey it turns east, passes in a broad swath through the city of Jacksonville, and then merges into the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to scenic beauty, it is a valuable resource that provides a way of living to many Florida residents. As Florida's natural attractions lure more people there is more activity in and around the river but, fortunately, people who care work constantly to protect it and it has friends in Tallahassee.

On Monday the 4th St. Johns River Caucus was held in the Senate. The caucus was started by state Sen. John Thrasher to give legislators whose districts are touched by the river a venue to monitor the river's status.

One of the major steps in improving the river came 40 years ago when the city of Jacksonville spent $150 million to cut off sewage outfalls into the river. In earlier times it was acceptable to put sewage in the river because the river was able to assimilate it, but Jacksonville officials decided to end that practice when the Clean Water Act was passed, unlike other cities that continued to dawdle.

Although point-source pollution has been eliminated, there is still runoff from agriculture and other sources. But it is a manageable problem, despite occasional outbreaks of hysteria from Big Environment.

In some cases, liberal solutions are worse than the problem.

Georgia-Pacific began 20 years ago trying to help the river by building a pipeline that would carry wastewater from its paper mill in Palatka into the river.

Little-brained columnists and reporters often described this as an effort to “dump pollution into the river.”

Treated wastewater from the plant has been going into the river for nearly 60 years. It is emptied into Rice Creek, which is beside the plant and runs a short distance into the river.

Furthermore, the discharge met all environmental standards until regulators raised the standards a few years ago. Suddenly, what had been legal discharge became “pollution.”

Georgia-Pacific spent $200 million to clean its wastewater, but still needed the pipeline.

Water from Rice Creek oozes into the river and tends to remain near the shore. The pipeline pumps the wastewater into the main body of the river where it is diluted quickly to a level that meets the standards.

The net effect is akin to dumping a teacup of wastewater into an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Truly, the solution to pollution is dilution. Although slow, the St. Johns empties nearly a billion gallons a day into the ocean.

Yet, even after regulators and the courts had approved the $30 million project, various special interests continued trying to block construction. Fortunately they failed.

Had they succeeded in shutting down the plant and putting 1,000 people out of work, they would have considered it a victory because in their view minnows are more important than humans.

Liberals never can get it through their skulls that people are part of the environment.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Tags: News, Columns

Comments (9)

12:54PM MAR 20TH 2014
To: Floridalegal - Gee, you must be right . . . . I know some industries that used to dump radioisotopes and mercury into our streams and rivers in the 1940's, but then the laws changed . . . . . so you would let them go back to the environmental damage they were allowed to create previously, correct . . . . . so, where exactly did you get your so-called law degree that taught that your legal philosophy makes for good public policy . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
4:42PM MAR 19TH 2014
The environmental wackos apparently do not know how to read. As stated in the article the plant met all laws for years and then the law changed (governmental action). GA-Pacific is now deemed a polluter (something that would describe the action of GA-Pacific). There was not a deliberate act on the part of GA-Pacific that rendered them a polluter. Environmental laws have nothing to do with controlling the deliberate actions of companies. If you want to find the highest concentration of single point discharges that are violation of Clean Water and other regulatory rules, look to the municipalities. The following percentage are for demonstration but industries have been pushed to reach a 98 or 99% standard and municipalities are back in the 60's and 70% range. It is politically easier to fine industry than to manage municipal budget to pay for the same level of clean up. The increase in taxes would get politicians run out of office if municipalities were brought to the same level as industries.
11:43PM MAR 18TH 2014
Why is it that hard core rightzingers do not get it Making companies do the right thing is a solid conservative value. An example off the free market with company responsibility. Anything less leeds to bigger goverment as the cleanup becomes the responsibility of the taxpayers. Thus a new tax or "fee".
9:38AM MAR 18TH 2014
Get real --> "the solution to pollution is dilution" . . . . when was the last time you had any real science . . . the 1950's? . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Fran k
8:22AM MAR 18TH 2014
Every liberal should have a "L" branded into their forehead. That way everyone can clearly see that everything they say can be ignored.

The epitaph of the USA will say that it was destroyed by well meaning Democrats.
8:40AM MAR 18TH 2014
After reading the article below this one titled "Senate Committee Backs Medical Tourism", I think Conservatives should have a C branded in their forehead. That way we know who saved our country through lax environmental rules and then promoting cancer treatment as a great thing for economic development.
8:20AM MAR 18TH 2014
The trouble with some so called Conservatives is here it is 2014, we have people living in space and we're talking about going to Mars. We have advanced technology that allows us to do an incredible number of wonderful things. Meanwhile, we know that babies are being born with up to 200 chemicals in their blood that shouldn't be there, and we know some chemicals do indeed damage our genes. At the same time we know one of the things about the 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women who'll get cancer in their lifetime is that for most of them, their genes loaded the gun and their environment pulled the trigger. Among many other things. Yet, instead of believing we have the capability to make our livings without polluting ourselves in the process, they think the solution to pollution is dilution.

Further the trouble with some so called Conservatives is that they don't understand it's more conservative to make companies prevent pollution and pass the cost to their customers rather than wait until dilution is no longer a solution and then force them to do it through some act of extreme environmentalism while passing the cost of mitigation to taxpayers.

For a good example, just take a look at the news on the Indian River Lagoon to see how outdated the solution to pollution is dilution is. Where did not fighting harder for pollution controls get us there? A dying ecosystem that not even hundreds of millions dollars will fix it. (And a dying ecosystem that got no attention until people started getting extreme.)
Yet, down the road from some conservative news reporter we'll probably hear the tale of one environmental group who possibly went overboard while totally ignoring all the other hard won battles with sensible solutions that had previously taken place in order to effect change.

BTW, the ecosystem of the Indian River Lagoon (like most ecosystems) isn't just the "environment" for some Liberals. In the Lagoon's case, it also happens to have an upfront economic value of about $3.7 billion a year (which does not include the value you can't put a price on- spending the day on the water with your family, supplementing your income by being able to catch your dinner, sustaining your property values etc. ).
Bill Bledsoe
7:53AM MAR 18TH 2014
Check the vehicles operated by those loving, caring envronMENTALusts. These are people who fly (air pollution!) and burn gasoline with no real concern for their own polluting.
8:28AM MAR 18TH 2014
Mr. Brown was right that Liberals are part of the environment. Of course it's true that there isn't much we can do without affecting the environment. BUT, just because you use something doesn't mean you can't lobby for a better way to use it. Geez, if that's the way it worked, where would we be? Still using ice boxes, wringer washing machines, and pay phones?

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