Scientists recently released their predictions of the size of this year’s Gulf Dead Zone. They predict that the Dead Zone will be approximately 5,500 square miles, or the size of Connecticut. This is approximately the size of last year’s Dead Zone (5,052 mi2) and almost three times the goal of the Dead Zone Task Force.
The most recent Dead Zone Action Plan called for a 45% reduction of Dead Zone-causing pollution in the Mississippi River and set a goal of reducing the size of the Dead Zone to 1,930 mi2 by 2015. Needless to say, we blew through that goal without any real success. So the EPA and Task Force just said “oops” and just moved the goal posts. Now the goal is to to make the same reductions by 2035. Still with no real description how that will happen or what consequences the states may face if they don’t meet those goals.
One of the items the EPA and states have put forward is that most of them have developed “Nutrient Reduction Strategies.” Most of which have no goals or timelines (which was pointed out by the EPA Inspector General [pdf]). Without a real change in how we allow the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution into our environment, we are worried that once 2035 rolls around, the goal posts will once again be moved, and the Gulf and those that depend on it will be the ones to suffer.