Gulf of Mexico Beset by a Bevy of Environmental Ills

The Gulf of Mexico is in deep trouble, reports the Naples Daily News in an extensive 15-part series. Named last year by the U.S. EPA as the dirtiest coastal body of water in the U.S., the gulf takes a beating from leaking hog-waste lagoons, fertilizer from Midwest farms that reaches the gulf via the Mississippi and other rivers, runoff from land that has been developed to house an ever-expanding population, and a wide variety of dirty industrial facilities that line the southern coast, including chemical, petroleum, paper, and fertilizer plants. The negative effects of all these forces range from lost tourism income and a dramatically declining fishing industry to so-called Cancer Alley in Louisiana, where high numbers of people living in the shadow of petrochemical facilities have developed serious health problems. “I’m writing the epitaph,” says Gary Burris, a former area fisher who is now making a documentary about the gulf’s decline. “We have gone over the edge of sustainability.”