Commentary: Are you killing the Gulf of Mexico?
The petition even claims the death of a teenage boy may have been caused by toxins from nutrients.
The environmental petition pulls no punches and backs its arguments with data from numerous studies, World Health Organization, and studies from around the world.
Legal arguments from EPA come across as pathetically weak in light of the charges made against nutrient runoff allegedly from agriculture
Tillage agriculture is not without its merits, but these merits are certainly not being told to the courts. The University of Illinois and Cornell University have engaged in a major study of the Mississippi River basin with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Even though the university study looks at fertilizer inputs, it also examines atmospheric deposition of nutrients, the number of people in the basin and livestock to calculate nitrogen inputs and outputs for all 153 watersheds in the Mississippi River basin.
The study does not exonerate agriculture, but it certainly explains the facts, which to date I have not seen in any legal brief filed with any court.
The University of Illinois lead researcher has said, "Farmers are not to blame" for the huge increase in the seasonal hypoxia dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. "They [farmers] are using the same amount of nitrogen as they were 30 years ago and getting much higher corn yields, but we have created a very leaky agricultural system," he adds. "A lot of people just want to blame fertilizer, but it's not that simple."
Agriculture's representatives had better start telling the complete story on nutrients to the courts of this country. Agriculture loses when the environmental groups and EPA control the narrative, and we are losing!
Gary H. Baise is a principal at OFW Law (Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz P.C.). This article first appeared in Farm Futures magazine. The opinions presented here are expressly those of the author. For more information, go to www.OFWlaw.com
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