Sarasota News Leader

01/31/2014

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AN ENVIRONMENTAL APOCALYPSE: FRACKING IN FLORIDA EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL W h e n t h e f i r s t Europeans arrived in Florida 500 years ago, they found, at least from an environmental perspective, a virtual paradise. The land supported a diverse array of flora and fauna, nurtured by numerous natural springs. Those springs were fed by under- ground aquifers that had filtered the water for 100,000 years to pristine purity. In the intervening centuries, the impact of settlers on that ecosystem has been dramatic … especially in the last century. In fact, a significant part of Florida's history now consists of an accounting of the environ- mental depredation inflicted by those who brought "progress" to our state. In south Florida, the damming up of the Everglades by the construction of the Tamiami Trail in the 1920s disrupted the natural flow of the "River of Grass" from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. With millions of sticks of dyna- mite, construction crews created the Tamiami Canal in the limestone shelf, providing the fill material to build the adjacent road. Of course, the marketing of the Sunshine State to the masses in the cold north, either as a winter retreat or a permanent home, swelled the population of our state. The home build- ing boom that accommodated all of these new residents placed a tremendous strain on the ecosystem. The many pure springs, for example, are endangered today, infiltrated by a combina- tion of agricultural and residential fertilizer runoff, improperly treated sewage and indus- trial waste. OPINION

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