The federal government has denied a petition that would set pollution limits for states in the Mississippi River Basin. The decision was criticized by environmental groups today. Pollution released from wastewater treatment plants and farm runoff eventually travel from Kentucky to the Mississippi River and are contributing to a growing ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico. A dead zone is a spot where pollution has sucked out all the oxygen and there’s no aquatic life.
The rejected petition asked the Environmental Protection Agency to step in and set standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, which right now is under the control of individual states.
Judy Petersen is the executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance.
“Not a single state in the Mississippi River Basin, which covers 40 percent of the states in the United States of America, not a single state has comprehensive limits for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution,” she said.
Petersen says the pollution hits close to home.
“It’s not just the dead zone,” she said. “We have problems with lakes and even some rivers right here in Kentucky. Every state in the nation, as far as I know, has problems both within their state as well as what they’re contributing to dead zones.”
The pollution problems also contribute to algae blooms, which can affect aquatic life and drinking water supplies in Kentucky waterways.
Petersen called on the commonwealth to set pollution controls even without the EPA’s leadership.