Gulf Dead Zone Cause and Cure Known, Action Still Required

September 24, 2009, Environmental Working Group (EWG)

DES MOINES – September 24 – A representative from the Washington, D.C. based Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been asked to present remarks to the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force Public Meeting held today in Des Moines, IA. In his remarks, EWG Midwest Vice-President Craig Cox provided a clear-eyed and no-nonsense assessment of the state of pollution flowing into the Mississippi River Basin and how it contributes to the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone.

EWG recently opened a Midwest office in Ames, IA to effectively address the growing threat modern agriculture poses to the environment. Cox manages EWG’s agriculture programs from the Ames, IA office.

"The fundamental problem we face is not lack of technology or solutions. The problem is poor policy and institutional inertia," Cox said in his remarks.

However, in a move welcomed by EWG and reported by the Associated Press this morning, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intends to inject $320 million in dedicated pollution clean up funds to the 12 states encompassed in the Mississippi River Basin.

"We commend Secretary Vilsack for bringing more federal support to bear on a region in desperate need of assistance," Cox said. "Coupling an increase in funds with better enforcement of conservation compliance and better policies to mitigate toxic run-off will go a long way to solving the Dead Zone problem," Cox added.

The Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, consisting of five federal agencies and 10 state agencies, was brought together in 1997 to develop and implement an action plan to reduce the Gulf Dead Zone. Agriculture has been identified as the single largest contributor of pollution flowing into the Mississippi River Basin.

Go here for the full text of Craig Cox’s comments: