Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Enviros Fight Coastal Fireworks

File this under "Bah, Humbug!" and hope it's all resolved by the Fourth of July, when coastal towns all along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf shores -- and every lakeside town in between -- hope to hold their traditional, patriotic fireworks displays.

California Coast Keeper -- a group attached at the hip to Robert Kennedy, Jr., who founded the franchise with River Keeper -- threatened a lawsuit if Sea World didn't stop its fireworks show because the San Diego theme park does not have a permit for discharging a pollutant into a water body. The federal Clean Water Act, which has jurisdiction from sea to shining sea, requires discharge permits for pollutants.

Sea World, which already has a Coastal Commission permit for up to 150 shows a year, quickly cowered and has suspended its popular Mission Bay fireworks show until the matter is sorted out.

The pollutant? Pyrotechnic residue, both chemical and the scraps of paper and cardboard from exploded shells. Quotes the San Diego Union Tribune:
“The implications of this are very significant,” said John Robertus, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency that will weigh the merits of SeaWorld's application. “It has not been done anywhere in the U.S. that I am aware of. Locally, we have not seen a need to regulate that.”
This from a man who sees the need to regulate just about anything. A few years ago, he tried (and succeeded) to get rainwater declared a toxin as soon as it hit the ground, requiring runoff to be treated even before it reaches the stormwater system. His stubborness on the matter made impossible the construction of efficient regional stormwater treatment systems.

Coast Keeper does have a pretty good argument -- the Clean Water Act does regulate discharges and there are heavy metals in the fireworks residue. But they have a lousy sense of priorities. The small amount of pollutants in a big ocean are truly a definition of insignificance, while the fireworks displays bring great enjoyment to millions.

"Enjoyment!?" shrieks Coast Keeper. "We don't want no stinkin' enjoyment!"

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