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Fairchild, Lisa M.
The influence of stakeholder groups on the decision making process regarding the dead zone associated with the Mississippi river discharge
h [electronic resource] /
by Lisa M. Fairchild.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
b University of South Florida,
Thesis (M.S.)--University of South Florida, 2005.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
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ABSTRACT: The Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico represents the first national attempt to address this environmental issue. Hypoxia is the condition of low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in a body of water. This condition leads to a so-called dead zone and potentially threatens industries dependent on the living marine resources of this area. The potential impact of any policy or plan designed to combat hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could have significant impacts on stakeholder groups, specifically the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, and the agriculture and fertilizer industries in the Midwest. This thesis examines the influence of the relative economic power of the aforementioned industries on the development of effective policy to mitigate hypoxia. The relative economic power of the agriculture and fertilizer industries has significantly impacted the development and efficacy of this plan.
Adviser: Dr. Andrew Price-Smith.
x Environmental Science and Policy
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Influence of Stakeholder Groups on the Decision Making Process Regarding the Dead Zone Associated with the Mississippi River Discharge by Lisa M. Fairchild A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Science Department of Environmental Science and Policy College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Andrew Price-Smith, Ph.D. John Daly, Ph.D. Frank Muller-Karger, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 30, 2005 Keywords: hypoxia, economic interests, conflict, Action Plan marine policy Copyright 2005, Lisa Fairchild
i Table of Contents List of Tables iii List of Figures iv Abstract v Chapter One: Introduction 1 Introduction 1 Economic Relevance 2 Theoretical Issues 5 Hypoxia 7 Causes of Hypoxia 8 Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico 9 History of Documented Hypoxia 11 Agriculture and Hypoxia 12 Climate Change and Hypoxia 15 Impacts of Hypoxia on Fisheries 16 Gulf of Mexico Fisheries 18 Conflict between Stakeholders 20 Impacts of Stakeholder Intere sts on Environmental Policy 21 Methodology 22 Definition of Variables 23 Population and Sample 23 Sources of Data 25 Recruitment of Participants 25 Questionnaire Methodology 26 Collection of Questionnaire Data 27 Methods of Analysis 27 Estimated Perception of the Importance of Hypoxia 28 Questionnaire Data 29 Chapter Two: Discussion 30 Action Plan 30 Perceived Importance of Hypoxia 31 Study Response Rate 34 Questionnaire Responses 34
ii Hypoxia and the Action Plan 35 Statement One 35 Statement Two 36 Statement Three 38 Statement Four 39 Statement Five 41 Statement Six 43 Statement Seven 45 Statement Eight 47 Statement Nine 49 Statement Ten 51 Statement Eleven 52 US Commission on Ocean Policy Recommendations 54 Statement Twelve 54 Statement Thirteen 56 Chapter Three: Conclusions and Recommendations 61 Conclusions 61 Recommendations 67 References 70 Appendices 74 Appendix A: Public Officials (Federal and State) Recruite d to Participate 75 Appendix B: Offices of Congre ss Recruited to Participate 76 Appendix C: Universities and Inst itutes Recruited to Participate 78 Appendix D: Copy of Questionnaire 79 Appendix E: Short-term Actions as Outlined by the Action Plan 81 Appendix F: Data 82 Appendix G: Summary of Select ed Questionnaire Responses 87
iii List of Tables Table 1 Total Incidence of Keywords Hypoxia or Dead Zone and Gulf of Mexico in Regional Newspapers 1985-2003 32 Table A-1 Annual Incidence of Keywor ds in Major National Newspapers and Southern and Midwestern Regional Sources (1985-2003) 82 Table A-2 Annual Incidence of Keyw ords in Congressional Sources (1988-2003) 83 Table A-3 Summary of Questionnaire Data 85 Table A-4 Statistical Summar y of Questionnaire Data 86
iv List of Figures Figure 1. Map of Louisiana Coast Showing Areas Where Mid-summer Hypoxia Occurs Most Frequently (1985-1997) 11 Figure 2. Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1985-2003) Depicting Action Plan Goal 31 Figure 3. Statement One: Distribution of Scores 36 Figure 4. Statement Two: Distribution of Scores 36 Figure 5. Statement Three: Distribution of Scores 38 Figure 6. Statement Four: Distribution of Scores 41 Figure 7. Statement Five: Distribution of Scores 42 Figure 8. Statement Six: Distribution of Scores 44 Figure 9. Statement Seven: Distribution of Scores 46 Figure 10. Statement Eight: Distribution of Scores 48 Figure 11. Statement Nine: Distribution of Scores 50 Figure 12. Statement Ten: Distribution of Scores 52 Figure 13. Statement Eleven: Distribution of Scores 54 Figure 14. Statement Twelve: Distribution of Scores 55 Figure 15. Statement Thirteen : Distribution of Scores 59 Figure A-1. The Relationship between the Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1985-2002) and the Annual Incidence of Keywords in Newspapers the Following Year 84 Figure A-2. The Relationship between the Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1987-2002) and the Annual Incidence of Keywords in Congressional Documents the Following Year 84
v The Influence of Stakeholder Group s on the Decision Making Process Regarding the Dead Zone Associated with the Mississippi River Discharge Lisa M. Fairchild ABSTRACT The Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico represents the first national attempt to address this environmental issue. Hypoxia is the condition of low concentrations of dissolved oxygen in a body of water. This condition leads to a so-called dead zone and potentially threatens industries dependent on the living marine resources of this area. The potential impact of any policy or plan designed to combat hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could have significant impacts on stakeholder groups, specifically the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, and the agriculture and fertilizer industries in the Midwest. This thesis examines the influence of the relative economic power of the aforementioned industries on the development of effective policy to mitigate hypoxia. The relative economic power of the agriculture and fertilizer industries has significantly impacted the development and efficacy of th is plan. The fishing industry, on the other hand, was not well represented in th e development of the plan. The Action Plan reflects the interests of industries w ith significant lobby ing power, while the interests of less mobilized groups are not equally represented. This disparity between the influence of industry on the development of policy designe d to reduce, mitigate and control hypoxia
vi in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could severely restrict the efficacy of future attempts to address the problem. This includes the reco mmendations set forth by the United States Commission on Ocean Policy regarding non-point source pollution as it pertains to hypoxia, as well as any new plan that could result from the fi ve year reassessment of the Action Plan which is currently in progress.
1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Introduction The hypoxic area in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, has the potential to disrupt industries that are impor tant to the well being of states proximate to the Gulf as well as states within the Mississippi River Basin. The condition of low oxygen leads to a so-called dead zone o ff the Mississippi/Atchafalaya Delta that ranges, on average, in area between 5000 to over 20000 square kilometers in a given year. 1 Although hypoxic conditions can occur natura lly, hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico has been accentuated by anthropogenic activities in the Mississippi River Basin. 2 Hypoxia is caused by a combination of factors including stratification and eutrophication 3 which will be elaborated on later in this chapter. One of the major industries in the Gulf of Mexico region is the fishing industry. On the other hand, agricultural concerns are of great importance throughout the Mississippi River basin, the breadba sket of the U.S.A. The purpose of this is to examine the perception of the efficacy of the Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico The hypothesis of this thesis is that the economic powers of the fish ing, agriculture, and fertilizer industries compete at the 1 Nancy N. Rabalais, R. Eugene Turner, and William J. Wiseman Jr., Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, Journal of Environmental Quality 30 (2001): 320-329. 2 Scott W. Nixon, Coastal Marine Eutrophication: A Definition, Social Causes, and Future Concerns, Ophelia 41 (1995): 199-219; Nancy N. Rabalais, R. Eugene Turner and Donald Scavia, Beyond Science into Policy: Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia and the Mississippi River, BioScience 52 (2002): 129-142. 3 Nancy N. Rabalais et al., 1999, Characterization of Hypoxia: Topic 1 Report for Integrated Assessment on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No. 15. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program, S ilver Springs, MD. 167pp.
2 federal level and inhibit the development of an effective national strategy to mitigate the seasonal hypoxic area in the Northe rn Gulf of Mexico. Within this context, this thesis also evaluates the climate within which the government and stakeholders are to act, or not, on the recommendations set forth by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to combat non-point source pollution as relate d to the formation of the dead zone. Chapter 1 lays out the background of the problem and methods to be used in the examination of the influence of industry on the development of environmental measures to address hypoxia in the Northe rn Gulf of Mexico. Chapter 2 presents an analysis and discussion of data and results. Primary S ources, government documents, articles from major newspapers as well as data collected by questionnaires are included in chapter 2. Finally, chapter 3 presents c onclusions and recommendations. Economic Relevance The waters off the coast of Louisiana are home to approximately 40% of US fisheries. 4 Therefore, to a large extent, the US seafood industry is dependent on Gulf fisheries. Nearly 26% of all seafood lande d in the country come s from the Louisiana fishing industry. 5 One of the major fisheries located in the Northern Gulf of Mexico is the shrimp fishery. In 2002, the shrimp fisheries off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas supplied approximately 57% of the nation s total shrimp landings. The commercial shrimp fisheries in the waters off Louisian a, alone, accounted for approximately 34% of 4 Environmental Protection Agency, January 2001, Actio n Plan to Reduce the Size of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico, http://www.epa.gov/m sbasin/factsheet.htm (January 20, 2004). 5 Louisiana Department of Economic Development, Louisiana Overview, (2004). http://www.led.state.la.us/overview (June 14, 2004).
3 the total annual US shrimp catch in 2002. 6 Shrimp and shellfish are a source of significant revenue for the state of Louisiana, contributing approximately 70% of the total commercial fisheries value in 1996. 7 In 2002, the value of landings from fish eries off the coast of Louisiana was determined to be $305.5 million, second only to Al aska in the value of national landings for that year. In comparison, the value of landings from Alaskas fisheries was determined to be $811.5 million in 2002. Texas, which also depends on the Gulf Coast fisheries, ranked fifth, behind Alaska, Louisiana, Maine and Massachusetts, in terms of the value of commercial landings in 2002. Landings from Texas generated $167 million dollars in 2002. 8 In 1996, retail sales of all Louisi anas commercial landings were $2.1 billion, with shrimp and shellfish accounting for $1.5 billion of that value. 9 Additionally, in 1996, the L ouisiana commercial fishi ng industry provided approximately 31,000 jobs, with 22,000 of those be ing located in the shrimp and shellfish industry. 10 The local recreational fishing industry also contributes to the economy of the Gulf Coast. On a regional scale, the Gulf fishing industry, commerc ial and recreational, has an economic impact of approximately $5 billion dollars and employs approximately 200,000 people. 11 6 David Van Voorhees and Elizabeth S. Pritchard, Fisheries of the United States, 2002 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Springs: National Marine Fisheries Service, 2003 7 Rob Southwick, March 1997, The Economic Benefits of Fisheries, Wildlife and Boating Resources in the State of Louisiana, prepared by Southwick Associates for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. 8 Van Voorhees and Pritchard, 6. 9 Southwick, 17 10 Ibid. 11 John McQuaid, Way of Life Threaten ed Along with Gulfs Vast Bounty, Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA) March 24 1996, 3 rd edition, National A37. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited April 3, 2004.]
4 Despite the significant importance of the Gu lf fishing industry to key states such as Louisiana, Texas and Florida, the issue of hypoxia in the Northe rn Gulf of Mexico remains unresolved. There is currently a lack of empirical data on the economic impact of hypoxia on the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The dearth of data may be partially explained by the complication of is olating the impact of hypoxia on fisheries. Diaz and Solow indicated that other factors, such as overfishing, in addition to hypoxia may be responsible for changes in the fisher ies of the Gulf of Mexico, making it difficult to quantify the impact of hypoxia in this area. 12 A further complication is that whil e hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico may negatively impact the fishing industry, effo rts to combat hypoxia may impose economic hardship on the agricultural industry in the Midwest 13 including crops and livestock, as well as the fertilizer industry in general. The Mississippi Basin acc ounts for nearly 55% of agricultural lands, supplies 1/3 of the farm related jobs (approx. 1 million) in the US and contributes $98 billion to the National economy from agricultural products alone. 14 Furthermore, the fertilizer i ndustry relies on the Midwest farmer as a consumer of their product. Annually, on average, approximately 7 million metric tons of nitrogen fertilizer is applied to land in th e Mississippi River Basin. 15 In 2000, anhydrous ammonia, the most common type of nitrogen fertilizer, acc ounted for 30% of all fertilizer consumed. 16 Using an average price of $233.19 dollars per ton of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer from 12 Robert J. Diaz and Andrew Solow, 1999, Ecological and Economic Consequences of Hypoxia: Topic 2 Report for the Integrated Assessmen t on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series No.16, NOAA Coastal Ocean Program, Silver Springs, MD. 45pp. 13 David Malakoff, Death by Suffocation in the Gulf of Mexico, Science 281 (1998): 190-192. 14 Ibid., 191; John A. Downing et al.,1999, Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia: La nd and Sea Interactions Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Task Fo rce Report No. 134, CAST. Ames, Iowa. 15 Donald A. Goolsby and Willia m A. Battaglin, December 2000, Nitrogen in the Mississippi River BasinEstimating Sources and Predicting Flux to the Gulf of Mexico, USGS Fact Sheet 135-00. 6pp. 16 Deborah Kramer, Nitrogen, U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Yearbook (2000): 55.1-55.12
5 1990-2000, the sale of 2.1 million tons in the Mississippi River Basin generated nearly half a billion dollars for th e fertilizer industry in 2000. 17 All three of the indus tries involved in this issue are important to their respective regions. The issue of hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico pits the interests of the Gulf fishing industry against those of the Mi dwest agriculture and fe rtilizer industries. Theoretical Issues Common pool resources (CPRs) present obs tacles to management because the interests of a large number of stakeholders must be considered in the development of any management plan. There are three models that according to Elinor Ostrom, are used to justify the governments contro l of CPRs. The models are listed and briefly explained below: 1. The Tragedy of the Commons: according to this theory individually rational choices lead collectively to irrational outcomes. 2. The Prisoners dilemma game: is a non-zero sum game where the players have the option to defect or cooperate. This game theory highlights the value of cooperation. 3. Collective action: assumes that individua ls in a group will cooperate in order to achieve a common goal. 18 Ostrom argues that free riders, a common factor between the th ree models mentioned above, make common pool resources susceptible to governmental authority. Free-riders 17 Calculated using data from United States Depart ment of Agriculture, Agricultural Prices, National Agricultural Statistics Survey, http://www.tfi.org/sta tistics/pricespaidbyfarmers%20.pdf (24 April 2004). 18 Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons-The Evolution of Institutions of Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
6 are those individuals who benefit from the actions of a group without contributing to achieving that benefit. Free-riders occur fr equently in the management of common pool resources because there is no way to ensure the cooperation of all pa rticipating parties, especially when one person cannot be excluded from the benefits of a resource, regardless of whether or not th ey contribute to efforts to manage the selected resource. 19 The management of common pool resources is additionally complicated by the often voluntary nature of such efforts. Appeals to the conscience are often used as a tool to encourage support and coope ration for such efforts; how ever, as Hardin suggests, appeals to the conscience favor the free riders Furthermore, Hardin concludes that the commons will be destroyed if left up to the voluntary actions of man. 20 Like Hardin, Mancur Olson also recognizes the problem with group theo ry. Olson points out that individuals will not voluntarily act in the be st interests of the gr oup without coercion or incentives. 21 This lack of voluntary participati on hinders the successful management of common pool resources; thereby, necessitating an alternative way to govern the commons. According to Ostrom, a common pool resour ce refers to a resour ce, either natural or man made, that is available to anyone. 22 The Mississippi River and the associated basin fit this definition. The Mississippi-Atchafalaya basin is the third largest basin in the world and drains approximately 40% of the United States. 23 Both the Midwest agricultural industry and the Gu lf fishing industry depend on the resources of this area. 19 Ostrom, 6. 20 Garrett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Commons, Science 162 (1968): 1243-1248. 21 Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective ActionPub lic Goods and the Theory of Groups (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971). 22 Ostrom, 30. 23 Downing et al., 19; Goolsby and Battaglin, 2; Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 129.
7 The wide and open availability of the resource s (land for agriculture, fish and shellfish) makes them vulnerable to overexpl oitation and difficult to protect. 24 Not only are states adjacent to the basin affected by it, but states a thousand or more miles away from the headlands of the Mississippi River, such as Louisiana, are affected by natural and human processes upstream in the Mississippi River Basin. Hypoxia According to a recent summit of the Un ited Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) there are over 150 hypoxi c areas around the world. Th e number of dead zones has nearly doubled over the last decade. Th e UNEP has identified these areas as a top emerging environmental concern because of th eir rapid increase in number and potential negative impacts on marine life. 25 Hypoxic areas exist in marine as well as fresh water ecosystems around the world. An area is cons idered hypoxic when there is not sufficient oxygen available to sustain marine life. Th e amount of oxygen at which marine life can no longer be sustained has been determin ed to be below 2 milligrams per liter. 26 Rabalais et al. identified two environmental conditi ons associated with the development of hypoxia: eutrophication and stratification. 27 24 Ostrom, 30. 25 Hans Greimel, U.N. environment su mmit opens, targets oceans dead zones, Associated Press March 20, 2004 (article received via email April 18, 2004). 26 John S. Pavela, Jeffrey L. Ross and Mark E. Chittenden, Sharp Reductions in Abundance of Fishes and Benthic Macroinvertebrates in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas Associated with Hypoxia, Northeast Gulf Science 6 (1983): 167-173; Maurice L. Renaud, Hypoxia in Louisiana Coastal Waters during 1983: Implications for Fisheries, Fishery Bulletin 84 (1986): 19-27. 27 Rabalais et al., Characterization of Hypoxia 34.
8 Causes of Hypoxia Nutrients are vital for the productivity of marine ecosystems; however, overenrichment can be deleterious. Howarth et al. identified nutrient over-enrichment as a major threat to coastal ecosystems. 28 One result of over-enrichment is eutrophication, which is defined by Scott W. Nixon as an increa se in the rate of supply of organic matter to an ecosystem. 29 Eutrophication can occu r naturally; however, it is often associated with nutrient loading resulting from anthr opogenic activities or ch anges including flood control, channelization, la ndscape alterations, municipal sewage and fertilizer application. 30 The addition of nutrients does not always have a negative impact on the ecosystem. Increased primary productivity can be associated with higher fishery production; however, there is a pareto-optimal threshold for the amount of organic matter that can be utilized by marine ecosystems. Phytoplankton not utilized by the system settles on the bottom and is decomposed by bacteria, which reduces the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. 31 Much of the anthropogenic-i nduced eutrophication can be attributed to activities resulting from the increased nutritional dema nds of the growing population. In order to meet the demand of the growing population fert ilizer use has increased in amount, as well as frequency of application. Nixon argues that runoff and the fraction of fertilizer lost 28 Robert Howarth et al., Nutrient Pollutio n of Coastal Rivers, Bays and Seas, Issues in Ecology 7 (2000): 1-15. 29 Nixon, 201. 30 Rabalais, Turner, Scavia, Beyond Science.., 134; Nancy N. Rabalais, R. Eugene Turner and William J. Wiseman Jr., Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia, A.K.A The Dead Zone, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics (2002): 235-263;Nixon, 208. 31 Robert J. Diaz, Overview of Hypoxia around the World, Journal of Environmental Quality 20 (2001): 275-280; Rabalais, Turner, Wiseman, A.K.A. The Dead Zone, 238.
9 increase as fertilizer use intensifies. The fertilizer not utilized by the crops is easily washed away and contributes to occurrenc es of eutrophication in coastal waters. 32 According to Rabalais, Turner, and Wiseman Jr., the potential negative impacts of the oversupply of nutrients on shallow coasta l waters are generating increasing concern around the world. 33 Although eutrophication is now r ecognized as a major threat to coastal waters, it did not prompt serious scie ntific concern until the 1950s. Since then the threat of nutrient loading on marine ecosystems has ga rnered more attention. By the 1970s, it was argued that algal growth in marine ecosystems was limited by the availability of nitrogen. In 1990, coastal eutrophication was identified as one of the major causes of immediate concern in the marine environment. 34 In addition to eutrophication, stratification of th e water column is also required for the development of hypoxia. The salinity, te mperature and density of the nutrient rich fresh water reaching the Gulf of Mexico fr om the Mississippi River Basin differs from the water of the Gulf. These differences in hibit mixing of the water column and isolate the oxygen rich water to the top of the colu mn, while the bottom of the column remains oxygen poor. 35 Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico The largest hypoxic area in the world is lo cated in the Baltic Basin. This area measures approximately 70,000 sq km. The s econd largest hypoxic ar ea in the world is 32 Nixon, 208. 33 Rabalais, Turner and Wiseman, A.K.A The Dead Zone, 237. 34 Nixon, 203. 35 Nancy N. Rabalais et al., A brief summary of hypoxia on the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf: 1985-1988, in Modern and Ancient Continental Shelf Anoxia Special Publication No. 58, Eds. RV Tyson and TH Pearson (London, Geological Society, 1991), 35-47; Rabalais, Turner and Wiseman, A.K.A The Dead Zone, 238; Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 134.
10 located in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, wh ich at its largest measures approximately 20,000 sq km. 36 In this region, hypoxia is defined as an area of low oxygen concentration (below 2 milligrams per liter) where shrimp and demersal fish are no longer caught by trawl nets, 37 earning the area the nickname the dead zone. 38 Motile species escape while less motile ones succumb to the lack of oxygen. Downing et al. found portunid crab ( Portunus sp.) and spider crab ( Libinia sp.) suffocated in this area. 39 Shrimp, on the other hand, are able to escap e the hypoxic area but not without being affected. The effects of hypoxia on shrimp stocks are discussed later in this chapter. The hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico has been a documented summer (June through August) occurrence for the past 25 year s. Hypoxia is most severe during these summer months; however, it has been observe d from late February to early October. 40 The seasonality of hypoxia roughly corresponds to the nitrate flux from the Mississippi River Basin. Goolsby and Battaglin noted th at seasonally high nitrate fluxes from the Mississippi precede the development of the hypoxic zone. 41 Figure 1 illustrates the average area of mid-summer hypoxic conditi ons. The colored areas illustrate the frequency of hypoxia in these areas from 1985-1997. 36 Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 130. 37 Ibid.; Renaud, 19. 38 Rabalais, Turner and Wiseman, A.K.A. The Dead Zone, 235. 39 Downing et al., 4 40 Rabalais et al., Characterization of Hypoxia 42; Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 131. 41 Goolsby and Battaglin, 3.
Figure 1. Map of Louisiana Coast Showing Areas Where Mid-summer Hypoxia Occurs Most Frequently (1985-1997) [Source cited with permission: Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). 1999. Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia: Land and Sea Interactions. Task Force Report 134. CAST, Ames, Iowa.] The hypoxic area is always located to the west of the outflow of the Mississippi River; however, the size and the shape vary with changes in winds, currents and tidal flows. 42 The location of the hypoxic area relative to the coastline is also variable. The area can extend over a large distance and be found in shallower water near shore, or in deeper offshore waters, from 1 km from shore up to 125 km offshore respectively. Hypoxia commonly occurs in water ranging in depth from 5 to 30 m, but can occur as deep as 60 m. Additionally, the extent of hypoxia within the water column is also variable. Typically, between 20-50% of the water column is affected; however, it can range between 10-80%. 43 History of Documented Hypoxia Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a persistent and well-documented phenomenon. Although anecdotal information from shrimp fishermen suggests the presence of hypoxic areas in the Gulf of Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s, it was not until the 1970s that 42 Downing et al., 8; Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 131. 11 43 Rabalais et al., Characterization of Hypoxia, 6; Rabalais, Turner and Wiseman, A.K.A The Dead Zone, 240; Rabalais Turner and Wiseman, Hypoxia in the Gulf, 322.
12 hypoxia in the area was first empirically reco rded. The first instance of documented hypoxia on the Louisiana continental shelf dates back to 1972, when data on oxygen concentration was collected during envi ronmental assessments for oil and gas exploration. It was not until 1985 that data on the hypoxic area in the Northern Gulf was collected on a regular basis. 44 Agriculture and Hypoxia The nutrients causing eutrophication a nd subsequently hypoxia come from a variety of sources. Major sources include animal waste, fertilizer and sewage. A majority of the nutrients that end up in the Gu lf of Mexico originate from the Mississippi River Basin, which is home to one of the most productive farming regions in the world. Rabalais, Turner and Scavia note that nonpoint sources are responsible for approximately 90% of the nitrate inputs to the Mississippi River Basin. Of these nonpoint sources almost 75% of them are agricultural, including liv estock and crop production. 45 Although not truly a point source of po llution, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are considered a point s ource because of their highly concentrated nature. 46 The growth of large-scale livestock ope rations, over 1000 animal units, in recent years has led to a significant increas e in the amount of manure being produced by livestock. An estimated 500 million tons of manure are produced by feedlots across the United States annually. 47 Manure is used as fertilizer be cause it is a sign ificant source of 44 Rabalais et al., A brief summary, 35. 45 Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 135. 46 Donald A. Goolsby, et al. Flux and Sources of Nutrients in the MississippiAtchafalaya River Basin. Topic 3 Hypoxia Assessment Report. Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Hypoxia Working Group, NOAA, 1999. 130 pp. 47 US Commission on Ocean Policy, Addressing Coastal Water Pollution, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21 st Century Final Report, Washington, DC, 2004, pp. 204-225.
13 nitrogen and phosphorous; however the absolute rate of ma nure production is exceeding the rate of consumption. 48 Livestock operations contribute nitr ogen to the Mississippi River Basin through atmospheric deposition as well as runoff. 49 Excess wastes that are not utilized as manure can enter waterways thro ugh leakage from holding pens and runoff. In all, it is estimated that approximately 15% of the nitrogen flux to the Gulf of Mexico comes from livestock manure. 50 A more significant source of nitrogen in the Mississippi River Basin is crop production. The high productivity of this region is linked to the use of commercial fertilizers. Annually, an average of 7 million metric tons of nitrogen fertilizer is applied to the land in the Mississippi River Basin. A significan t amount of the fertilizer applied to this region is lost into the basin each year. On average, approximately 1.6 millions metric tons of nitrogen washes down the Mi ssissippi into the Gulf each year. 51 Downing et al. indicate that, over the last cen tury, the input of ni trogen into the Mississippi has increased two to seven times, 52 which roughly corresponds to the in creasing use of fertilizers over the past century, particularly since the 1950s. 53 One region is primarily responsible for the nitrogen leaching into the Mississippi River. The Corn Belt, located north of th e Ohio River, contributes over 60% of the 48 Michael R. Burkart and David E. James, Agricultural-Nitrogen Contributions to Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, Journal of Environmental Quality 28 (1999): 850-859. 49 US Commission on Ocean Policy, 211. 50 Goolsby et al. xvi 51 Goolsby and Battaglin, 2-3. 52 Downing et al., 13. 53 William J. Mitsch et. al, Reducing Nitrogen Loading to the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River Basin: Strategies to Counter a Persistent Ecological Problem, BioScience 51 (2001): 373-388.
14 Mississippis nitrate load according to a US Geological Survey (USGS) study. 54 Burkhart and James study supports the assertio n that states dominate d by crops such as corn and soybeans have the largest total nitrogen loss rates. 55 Besides the type of crop farmed, fertilization practic es also influence the amount of nitrogen entering the Mississippi. Some of the fertilization practices ut ilized in the Mississippi River Basin contribute to the increased loss of nitrogen. Depending on the crop being farmed, overfertilization can be common. A ccording to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it is estimated that corn growers overfertilize their crops by 20 percent. 56 Additionally, some farmers opt to fertilize their fields in the fall, although planting will not occur until spring. During a public comment session be fore the US Commission on Ocean Policy, Susan Heathcote, Iowa Environmental Counc il, noted that up to 50% of the nitrogen applied in the fall is lost before the crop is planted. 57 Additionally, evidence linking increased stream flow and precip itation to the size of the dead zone suggests that there is a relationship between the current agricultur e practices and the formation of the hypoxic area in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. In 1993, after significant flooding in the Mi ssissippi River Basin, the dead zone dramatically increased in si ze, approximately 5,000 km larger than the previous year. Goolsby and Battaglin noted a peak in stream flow and nitrate flux in 1993. 58 The opposite effect has been seen in times of drought. During the summer of 2000, the 54 Malakoff, 191. 55 Burkart and James, 857. 56 Peter Downs, Reducing Nitrogen Use Could Reduce Dead Zone and Increase Farm Profits, St. Louis Post-Dispatch June 30, 2000, B7. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited March 14, 2004]. 57 Susan Heathcote, Agricultural Nutrient Pollution and Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, Comments before the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, Gulf of Mexico Region al Meeting, March 7-8, 2002. 58 Goolsby and Battaglin, 2.
15 Mississippi River basin experienced drought conditions and the hypoxic area in the summer of 2000 was one of the smallest to date. 59 Additionally, in 1988, the hypoxic area was observed to have disappeared in the late summer. At this time, the river flow in the Mississippi was at its lowest level in 52 years. 60 Goolsby and Battaglin also reported a decrease in nitrate flux in 1988. Furthermore, they attributed cha nges in the nitrate flux, at least partially, to changes in stream flow and precipitation. 61 Another study by Goolsby, Battaglin, Aulenbach and Hooper noted a direct relationship between nitrate concentration and stream-flow. They conc luded that this relationship indicates a nonpoint source of nitrate, such as runoff from the agricultural industry. 62 Climate Change and Hypoxia Climate change has the potential to fu rther intensify hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico by affecting stream flow and precip itation. Models run by Justic, Rabalias and Turner predicted that runoff in the Mississi ppi River will increase, due to increased precipitation as a result of c limate change. The doubled CO 2 scenario of climate change predicts approximately a 20% increase in pr ecipitation in the Missi ssippi River region. The consequences of climate change are predicted to cause th e hypoxic area in the northern Gulf of Mexico to surp ass its largest area to date. 63 59 Rabalais, Turner, Scavia, 132. 60 Rabalais et al., A brief summary, 37, 41; Downing et al., 10; Rabalais, Turner, Wiseman, Hypoxia in the Gulf, 323. 61 Goolsby and Battaglin, 2. 62 Donald A. Goolsby, William A. Battaglin, Brent T. Aulenbach and Richard P. Hooper, Nitrogen Input to the Gulf of Mexico, Journal of Environmental Quality. 30 (2001): 329-336. 63 Dubravko Justic, Nancy N. Rabalais, and R. Eugene Turner, Effects of climat e change on hypoxia in coastal waters: A doubled CO 2 Scenario for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Limnol. Oceanogr. 41 (1996): 992-1003.
16 Impacts of Hypoxia on Fisheries According to the UNEP, dead zones pose as big of a threat to fish stocks as does overfishing. 64 Areas of low oxygen not only kill the less motile species, but force others either inshore or further offshore. The habitat of commercially valuable fish can also be impacted by hypoxia. An increase in th e size of a hypoxic area could impact the productive habitat and affect spawning grounds as well as feeding grounds. These changes in habitat have been shown to force fish into less suitable areas. 65 Jubilees, which allow for easy overfishing, occur when large numbers of fish flee from the hypoxic areas towards the shore. 66 Hypoxia can impact fisheries in ways othe r than direct mortality. According to Breitburg hypoxia induced loss of habitat and mortality at early life stages are more likely than direct kills to impact fish populations. 67 Additionally, the development and reproductive success of fish may also be a ffected by hypoxia. Wu et al. report that hypoxia can act as an endocrine disruptor and potentiall y affects the reproductive capacity of fish stocks. 68 Evidence suggests that hypoxia ha s severely disrupted fisheries in the past. Fisheries in the Black and Baltic Sea have been significantly degraded, and their composition changed, as a result of hypoxia. 69 The lobster fishery in the Kattegat, a branch of the Baltic Sea, is a striking example, as the No rwegian lobster fishing industry 64 Greimel, 1. 65 Downing et al., 16. 66 Ibid., 5; Denise Breitburg, Effects of Hypoxia, and the Balance between Hypoxia and Enrichment, on Coastal Fishes and Fisheries, Estuaries 25 (2002): 767-781. 67 Ibid., 768. 68 Rudolf S.S. Wu, Bing Sheng Zhou, David J. Randall, Norman Y.S. Woo and Paul K.S. Lam, Aquatic Hypoxia is an Endocrine Disruptor and Impairs Fish Reproduction, Environ. Sci. Technol. 37 (2003): 1137-1141. 69 Diaz, Overview of Hypoxia, 279.
17 was completely eliminated by hypoxia. Additionally, hypoxia and anoxia have significantly decreased the number of commercia lly valuable species in the Black Sea. Forty years ago, the fisheries of the Black Sea had 26 commerci ally valuable species, and only six of those species exist today. 70 The more commercially valuable demersal fisheries of the Black Sea, which are bottom dwelling, have been replaced by less profitable pelagic fisheries, which are located higher up in the water co lumn. Stocks of turbot, a high ly valuable flatfish that is important to the fisheries in this area, collapsed during the 1970s. While the turbot fisheries were collapsing, anc hovy fisheries rapidly increased. 71 Benthic crustaceans and mussel populations in the Black Sea were also reduced as a result of hypoxia and anoxia. 72 Gulf of Mexico Fisheries In contrast to the examples of the Kattegat and Black Sea, there is currently a dearth of concrete empirical evidence that hypoxia is negatively affecting the macro-level economies of the states that border the Gulf of Mexico. 73 However, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the abundanc e, distribution and migration of demersal fish and shrimp in the Northern Gulf of Mexico is severely impacted by hypoxia. Renaud discovered a positive relationship between the number of brown and white shrimp present 70 Diaz, Overview of Hypoxia, 279; Robert J. Diaz, 1998, Hypoxia: A global perspective, In Agricultural outlook forum '98 23, 184-86. WAOB-YCON-98. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; Robert J. Di az, Causes and Effects of Coastal H ypoxia Worldwide: Putting the Louisiana Shelf Events in Perspectives, Proceedings of the First Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Management Conference December 5-6, 1995, 102-105. 71 Rabalais, Turner and Wiseman, A.K.A The Dead Zone, 254. 72 Marine Resources Service. Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Review of the State of the World Fishery Resources: Marine Fisheries. FAO Fisheries Circular N. 920 FIRM/C920, Fisheries Resource Division, Fisheries Department, FAO, Rome Italy, 1997. 73 Diaz and Solow, 39.
and the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the bottom water off Louisiana. 74 A 1983 study by Pavela, Ross and Chittenden found an absence, or abnormally low amounts, of fish and shrimp in sampled areas in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas during times of hypoxia in June and July 1979. 75 In addition to negatively affecting actual catch size, hypoxia may also disrupt the migration and maturation of certain commercially valuable species, such as brown shrimp (Farfantepanaeus aztecus) and white shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), as demonstrated in a 2001 study by Zimmerman and Nance. 76 Brown shrimp fishing grounds are located in both near-shore and offshore environments. Zimmerman and Nance found that in times of hypoxia brown shrimp are prevented from reaching the offshore habitat in shrimp fisheries off Louisiana and Texas. Furthermore, they found that the shrimp catch is decreased where hypoxia is common. 77 Additionally, Diaz and Solow found that the size of shrimp caught from 1960-1996 has been decreasing, indicating that it is likely that juvenile shrimp are being caught. 78 Following the 1993 floods in the Mississippi and the associated growth of the hypoxic areas in the Gulf of Mexico, the brown shrimp catch dropped from record highs to below average. 79 Although the catch of brown shrimp remains above average, the catch per unit effort (CPUE) has been decreasing. 18 74 Renaud, 21. 75 Pavela, Ross and Chittenden, 169. 76 Roger J. Zimmerman and James M. Nance, Effects of Hypoxia on the Shrimp Fishery of Louisiana and Texas, in Coastal and Estuarine Studies: Coastal Hypoxia 58, Eds. NN Rabalais and RE Turner (Washington DC: American Geophysical Union, 2001), 293-310. 77 Ibid., 296. 78 Diaz and Solow, 31. 79 Heather Dewar and Tom Horton, Cycle of Growth and Devastation, (Part 2 of 5), Baltimore Sun. September 25, 2000. Available online from Baltimoresun.com [cited May 12, 2004]. Also see http://galveston.ssp.nmfs.gov/news/2004Forecast/tables.html#table6 for data on brown shrimp.
19 The CPUE for brown shrimp has declined more significantly than that of white shrimp because brown shrimp are more dependent on offshore habitat, which is often blocked by hypoxia. 80 Since the 1960s, the CPUEs of these shrimp fisheries have decreased more than 25% with the most significant decreas e occurring between the 1980s and 1990s. 81 In addition to a decrease in CPUE, the US shrimping industry in the Gulf of Mexico has been further strained by the decreasi ng price of shrimp as a result of an influx in cheaper imported shrimp. A majority of shrimp consumed by the United States is imported from six countries: Thailand, Brazil, India, Ecuador, Vietnam and China. 82 Recently, there have been several developments aimed at benefiting the shrimping industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The 2002 Farm Bill, signed by President Bush, requires country of origin labeling for seafood, as well as other products; howev er, the mandatory labeling requirements have been pushed back until 2006. 83 Additionally, tariffs have been imposed on the importation of shrimp. Thailand, India, Ecuador and Brazil now face tariffs on the average of 10%. 84 Furthermore, in 2003, Congress provided $35 million in disaster relief, or subsidies, in orde r maintain the shrimping industry. 85 80 Zimmerman and Nance, 293. 81 Downing et al., 18. 82 Neil King Jr., Takeshi Takeuchi, and Elizabeth Price, Shrimp Tariffs Imposed by US Despite Protests, The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2004, A9. Available on-line from ProQuest [cited October 22, 2004.] 83 Jeffrey Sparshott, Seafood set for origin labeling, The Washington Times September 30, 2004, C12. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited 24 October 2004.] 84 Brazil could face tariffs as high as 67%, Ecuador could face tariffs between 6-9.3%, India between 3.527.4%, and Thailand between 5.5-10.2%. King Jr., Takeuchi, and Price, A9. 85 Scott Gold, Shrimp Industry Finds Life in the Gulf Coast Dead Zone, Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2003, A1. Available on-line from ProQuest [cited October 22, 2004.]
20 Despite the efforts of the measures disc ussed above, the shrimp ing industry is not likely to greatly benefit. It is predicted that the tariffs will not drastically impact the price of imported shrimp. Even if these measures were to significantly impact prices and decrease imports, the fisheries of the United St ates would not be able to keep up with the increased demand. Currently, US shrimpers can only provide for approximately 12% of US demand. 86 The effects of hypoxia on the develo pment, migration and habitat of commercially valuable marine species could prov e to be devastating to the fisheries in the Northern Gulf of Mexico over the long-term. Conflict between Stakeholders Despite the scientific evidence linking runo ff from the agricultural industry in the Mississippi River Basin to the dead zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico there is still notable disagreement on the causes. In 2000, Farm Bureau offi cials claimed that fertilizer usage in the Midwest does not cont ribute to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. 87 Additionally, Midwestern farmer s claim that other sources, such as municipal waste and sewage, are to blame for the dead zone sin ce they claim that they have been reducing their fertilizer usage over the past 15 years. 88 The distance between the Mi dwestern Farming States and the hypoxic area in the Northern Gulf of Mexico further complicates this issue. Many farmers have difficulty 86 King Jr., Takeuchi and Price, A9. 87 Environmental Law and Policy Center, Farm Bur eau Muddies Debate on Mississippi River Pollution, August 9, 2000, http://elpc.org/fores t/deadzone.pr.htm (February 5, 2004). 88 C. David Kelly, Hypoxia Paints a Murky Picture, American Farm Bureau Association September 29, 1997, http://www.fb.com/views/focus/fo97/fo0929.html (April 22, 2004).
21 believing that their actions are affecti ng an ecosystem hundreds of miles away. 89 Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to weigh the costs of protecting the fisheries off the Gulf Coast against the costs to crop producti on by reducing fertilizer use. Conflicts between interest groups may result in the development of sub-optimal policy outcomes. The influence of interest gr oups on the development of policy aimed at combating the dead zone will be discussed in a later chapter of this thesis. Impacts of Stakeholder Inte rests on Environmental Policy The competing interests of stakeholder groups have the poten tial to negatively impact the efficacy of environmental policy. Interest groups can use their influence to promote an agenda; however, it is more common for such groups to use their influence to obstruct an agenda that differs from th eir own. As John Kingdon explains, much of interest group activity in th ese processes [promoting new agenda items or advocating certain proposals] consists not of positive promotion, but rather of negative blocking. 90 There are three phases during which interest gr oups can prevent the ob jectives of a policy from being realized: agenda set ting, development and implementation. 91 Additionally, Michael E. Kraft recognized that conflicts of interest among stakeholders can induce 89 Bill Lambrecht, Task Force Calls for Paying Fa rmers to Fix Dead Zone In Gulf of Mexico, St. Louis Post-Dispatch January 20, 2001, Five Star Lift Edition, 2. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited April 25, 2004.] 90 John W. Kingdon, Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1984), 52. 91 Zachary A. Smith, The Environmental Policy Paradox (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000).
22 gridlock in Congress and pr event the development of e ffective policy, lead to the development of sub optimal policy, or hinde r the implementation of developed policies. 92 An additional challenge in the development of environmental policy is that in order for the outcome of a policy to satis fy one group, the objectives of another group must be sacrificed. Many of the conflic ts that arise during the development of environmental policy involve the economic interest s of at least one of the interest groups. The economic interests of a region or industry often conflict with th e objectives of the environmental policy, and present an obs tacle to the development of strong environmental policy. 93 Methodology The methodology of this thesis consists of an analysis of the interests and power of the fishing, agriculture and fertilizer industries and their influence on the formation and implementation of an effective national strategy to reduce hypoxia. These groups were selected because preliminary evidence i ndicated that they were the most important and relevant stakeholders involved in th is issue. The relationship between the aforementioned industries and (a) Congress and (b ) federal agencies is examined as part of this thesis. 92 Michael E. Kraft, Environmental Policy in Congress: From Consensus to Gridlock, in Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century. Norman J. Vig and Michael E. Kraft, Eds. (Washington DC: CQ Press, 2003), pp. 127-150. 93 Judith A. Layzer, The Environmental Case: Translating Values into Policy (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2002).
23 Definition of Variables The role of stakeholder groups, specifical ly industries, congressional oversight, and federal agencies in the decision making pr ocess are examined in this thesis. The relative economic power of the stakeholder gr oups is the independent variable. The stakeholder groups use their relative ec onomic power, through lobbying, to apply pressure on members of congress and othe rs in the decision-making position. The pressure exerted by the stakeholder groups in the form of lobbying influences the decision-making process, which is the interven ing variable. The de pendent variable is the effectiveness of federal statutes, le gislation, and strate gies such as the Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Population and Sample The population examined in this thesis is members of the political and academic arena that have the potential to influence policy and decision-making regarding hypoxia. This includes members of Congress, federal and state agencies, as well as academia. Members of academia are included in the sample because, according to Kingdon, they are an important group of non-governmental actors involved in the development of public policies, specifically for providing politicians ideas on how to deal with an issue on the agenda. 94 A sample (N=34) is assumed to be representative of the views of the population. Members of the Mississippi River/ Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, which includes employees of the Unite d States Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 94 Kingdon, 57-59.
24 United States Department of Interior, and the United Stat es Environmental Protection Agency, were asked to participate in th is study. Additionally, other members of the aforementioned agencies, as well as other agencies, who were not identified by the Action Plan as members of the Task Force, but were thought to be knowledgeable about the issue, were also asked to participate. Furt hermore, members of state agencies and tribes identified by the Action Plan as participants on the Task Force were also recruited to participate. A list of public offices recruite d to participate is presented in Appendix A. Additionally, relevant member s of Congress, both in the House of Representatives and Senate, were recruited to participate. These included members of Congress from the states within the Mississippi River Basin and along the Gulf Coast. Members of Congress not representing these two regions were aske d to participate if they sponsored or cosponsored legislation addressing hypoxia, actively participated in the development of legislation, or if their congre ssional testimony indicated that they had an interest in the issue. A list of the Congressional Offices recruited to participate is presented in Appendix B. Finally, members of academia were recruite d to participate from universities and institutes within as well as outside the Mississippi River Basin. Those contacted to participate from outside the basin were members of academia that are involved in research on hypoxia, or are previous member s of the Task Force. The academics recruited to participate represent a variety of disciplines that were a ssumed to be familiar with hypoxia. These disciplines include agr onomy, fisheries, wate r and soil science, environmental science, watershed manageme nt, oceanography, climate change, marine
25 affairs, animal science and agricultural economics. A list of the universities and institutes recruited to participate is presented in Appendix C. Sources of Data Although the phenomenon of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico was first reported in the 1970s, this analysis began with the year 1985, when scientific research on the hypoxic area in the Northern Gulf of Mexico began, and concluded with data available through December 31, 2003. There is one caveat to th is. The collection of information pertaining to the US Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP ) concluded with data available through December 31, 2004, since the report was issued that year. Primary sources were collected using LexisNexis the Library of Congress website, the USCOP website as well as other sources. Primary sources incl ude congressional test imony, congressional records, comments on the Action Plan Integrated Assessment and USCOP report, testimony before the USCOP as well as articles from major national and regional newspapers. The dates of primary sources collected vary depending on the database utilized. The two services included in LexisNexis Congressional : the Federal News Service and the Federal Document Clearing House, da te back to 1988 and 1993 respectively. Additionally, Congressional Records available from the Thomas Library of Congress database date back to the 101st Congress (1989-1990). Additional primary data were collected through the use of a questionnaire (Appendix D). Recruitment of Participants Contact information for all potential pa rticipants was obtai ned by searching the relevant departments, agencies, congression al offices and universities using the World
26 Wide Web. Requests to participate were sent to potential participants in the political arena and academia via email or facsim ile between November 27, 2004 and December 26, 2004. If a response indicati ng interest in participati ng was received, a follow-up contact was made to set up administration of the questionnaire. Add itionally, during a trip to Washington, DC (December 8 11, 2004) the offices of members of Congress identified as potential participants were visited and recruited to participate. Questionnaire Methodology The questionnaire had three main objectives : to examine the perceptions of the efficacy of the Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico the influence of industry on the efficacy of the plan, as well as to evaluate the climate within which the gove rnment and stakeholders are to act, or not, on the recommendations set forth by the US Commission on Ocean Policy to combat non-point source pollution as related to the formation of the dead zone. The first 11 statements of the questionnaire focus on the Action Plan and hypoxia, while the final two statements concentrate on the USCOP recommendations. The questionnaire was developed using the methodology described by Babbie as a guideline. 95 The questionnaire utilized closed-e nded statements where each participant was asked to rate the statement on a scale of one to ten by circ ling the appropriate number. The scale functioned as a thermometer to gauge the particip ants perceptions of the issues being evaluated. Additionally, participants were given the opportunity to elaborate on the numerical ranking assigned. Furthermore, the statements were organized in a manner so the specificity of the stat ements intensified as the questionnaire 95 Earl R. Babbie. Survey Research Methods, (Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1990).
27 progressed. By doing so, the knowledge of the participants on this issue, and/or their willingness to comment on this issue, could th en be evaluated based on the response rate. Collection of Questionnaire Data Questionnaires were distributed to potent ial participants via email or in person between November 29, 2004 and January 2, 2005. Questionnaire data were collected by email, in person administration of the questi onnaire, and by distribu ting questionnaires to congressional offices in Wa shington, DC to be mailed back upon completion. When possible, appointments were scheduled to ad minister the questionnaire in person. The in person administration of the questionnaire was recorded and transcribed upon completion of the trip. Finally, email administration of the questionnaire was utilized when the participant was located outside the Washingt on, DC area or was una vailable to schedule an appointment. Data collecti on was completed on January 10, 2005. Methods of Analysis This study first examines the relation ship between the area of hypoxia and the awareness and perceived importance of the i ssue. Data on the estimated size of bottomwater hypoxia in mid-summer from 1985-2003 were received from Dr. Nancy Rabalais of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortiu m. The trend in the estimated area of the hypoxic area was compared to data on the annual incidence of mention of hypoxia and the dead zone in news and congressional sources in order to estimate the perceived awareness and importance of the issue of hypoxia. The study then examines the perceived efficacy of the Action Plan and the influence of the relative economic power of stakeholder groups on decisionmaking regarding hypoxia.
28 Estimated Perception of th e Importance of Hypoxia Data on the annual incidence of referrals to hypoxia or the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico in congressional texts, major nati onal and regional newspa pers were collected and compared to the annual estim ated area of hypoxia in order to ascertain if there was a significant relationship between the estimated size of the hypoxia area and the amount of attention the issue received. Th e major newspapers used in th is analysis were determined by visiting the website of the Audit Bureau of Circulation 96 and these were USA Today, the Wall Street Journa l, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. USA Today and Wall Street Journal are not available through LexisNexis and therefore were not included in this study. The Southern and Midwestern Regions were included in this study because these two regi ons are most likely to be directly or indirectly impacted by hypoxia or proposed measures to mitigate hypoxia. Additionally, the annual incidence of the mention of hypoxia or dead zone was estimated in Congressional Testimony, given by outside sources in front of Congress, Congressional Records, documents presented by congress, transcripts of committee meetings, and bills using LexisNexis Congressional It was assumed that there is a lag betw een the occurrence of hypoxia and media or congressional attention to the issue. Ther efore, in order to estimate the amount of attention generated by the size of the hypoxic zone in a given year, the estimated area was compared to the media or congressiona l attention for the following calendar year. Since primary congressional and media sour ces were only collected through December 31, 2003, the correlation only uses hypoxia data through 2002. The Pearsons correlation 96 Audit Bureau of Circulation. Top 100 Newspapers According to Circulation. Dec 12, 2004, http://www.accessabc.com/reader/t op100.htm (December 12, 2004).
29 coefficient (r) and significance (p-value, two-tailed) were calculated using SPSS statistical software in order to examin e the magnitude and significance of the relationship. Questionnaire Data Data obtained from the questionnaire was used to supplement information gathered from other primary sources. The data obtained from the questionnaire was analyzed statistically; the mean, standard de viation and variance for each question were calculated. The distributi on of scores per question was also examined and analyzed. The numerical data obtained from the questionna ire was supplemented by the elaborations provided by participants on their scor es assigned to each statement.
30 CHAPTER 2: DISCUSSION Action Plan The first federal action to specifically focus on hypoxia in the Northern Gulf was introduced in 1997, 12 years after the mapping of the hypoxic area first began, when the Mississippi River/ Gulf of Mexi co Watershed Task Force (the Task Force) was created. Four years later (2001), The Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia ( The Action Plan ) was submitted to Congress in accordance with the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Act (HABHRCA) of 1998. The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-383) originated from HR 4235 sponsored by Rep. Christopher John (LA) a nd S 1480 co-sponsored by Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) and Senator J ohn Breaux (LA) during the 105th Congress. This law required the establishment of an interagency Task Force, a national assessment on harmful algal blooms (completed in 2000), a national assessment on hypoxia (not complete), an assessment and a plan to address hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. 97 The Action Plan is the first national attempt to address the phenomenon of hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. It is a collaborative effort between agencies, federal and state, and tribes along the Missi ssippi River Basin. The plan outlines a voluntary national approach to reduce the hypoxic area in the Gulf and consists of eleven 97 Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998, 105 th Congress, 2 nd session, H.R.4235; Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1997, 105 th Congress, 1 st session, S. 1480.
short term actions that were to be implemented beginning in the winter of 2000 and ending December 2005 (Appendix E). The objectives of the short term actions defined by the Action Plan are: the reduction of hypoxia, the improvement of water quality within the basin, and the improvement of economic conditions along the basin. 98 With regards to the area of hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, the Action Plan aims to reduce the area of hypoxia to 5,000 square kilometers. Figure 3 illustrates the estimated area of hypoxia from 1985-2003, as well as the Action Plan goal. 05,00010,00015,00020,00025,000Estimated Area Of Hypoxia (Sq Km) 1985198619871988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000200120022003Year nd Action Plan Goal Figure 2. Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1985-2003) Depicting Action Plan Goal [Modified from Rabalais, Turner and Scavia (2002) with data provided by Nancy Rabalais, LUMCON] Perceived Importance of Hypoxia The issue of hypoxia has received attention across a variety of mediums including Congressional testimony, congressional records, bills as well as national and regional newspapers. An examination of the incidence of the mention of the keywords hypoxia or 31 98 Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. 2001. Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Washington, DC.
32 dead zone and Gulf of Mexico in both newspapers and congressional documents illustrates the perceived importance of the issue. Coverage of hypoxia in major national newspapers, from 1985-2003, is considerably lower than that of regional newspapers in the Southern and Midwestern Regions during the same time period (Table A-1). Additionally, there is significant variation among regional coverage of the issu e during the same time period, as shown by Table 1. Midwestern Regional News Sources Southern Regional News Sources 63 233 Table 1. Total Incidence of Keywords Hypoxia or Dead Zone and Gulf of Mexico in Regional Newspapers 1985-2003 The difference in coverage between national newspapers and regional news sources indicates that the na tion, as a whole, is not awar e or concerned about hypoxia in the Gulf. Instead, it is only important to t hose areas, the Midwest and Southern regions, that stand to be impacted by hypoxia or any m easure initiated to abat e it. Furthermore, the heightened attention in Southern Regional newspapers indicate that states proximate to the issue are more likely to be dir ectly threatened by the hypoxic zone and consequently perceive the issue as important. Finally, a positive significant (p-value =.030, n = 17, df = 15) correlation of .527 betw een the estimated area of hypoxia and the annual incidence of the keywords hypoxia or dead zone and Gulf of Mexico (1985-2002) indicates that the atte ntion hypoxia receives in newspapers, especially in the Midwest and South, is relative to the si ze of the hypoxic area, and not a result of chance. The relationship between these variable is illustrated by Figure A-1.
33 On the other hand, the relationship betw een the annual estimat ed area of hypoxia and congressional attention (19852002) is not as great (r = 206), nor is it statistically significant (p-value = .461, n = 15, df = 13). Since the p-value is greater than .05, it indicates that the relationshi p between congressional attention and the annual estimated area of hypoxia is due to chance. The relationship between these variables is illustrated in Figure A-2. The perceived importance of hypoxia in Congr ess reflects the perception that the issue of hypoxia is not an important national issue. That said, hypoxia in the Northern Gulf has repeatedly appeared on the agenda of several me mbers of Congress, including Senator Olympia Snow (ME), Senator John Breaux (LA) and Representative Ehlers (MI). 99 Additionally, testimony addressing hypoxi a has been presented in front of committees from both the House and Senate. While some testimony focuses specifically on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, in many in stances the issue was only referred to in passing. A comparison of the total inciden ce of the mention of hypoxia in Congressional documents (Table A-2) to the total menti on of hypoxia in newspapers (Table A-1) illustrates the high variability in the perceive d importance or awareness of the issue. Overall, it appears that hypoxia is not ranked high on the national agenda. 99 Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) and Senator John Breaux (LA) co-sponsored S. 1480, Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control act of 1998 and S.247, Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Amendments of 2003. Senator Snowe sponsored S. 3014, Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research Act of 2004. Representative Vernon Ehlers (MI) sponsored H.R. 1856, Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Amendments Act of 2004.
34 Study Response Rate The response rate of participants also reflects the divergence in the perception of the importance of the issue of hypoxia among va rious groups. Overall the response rate is 29%; however, it varies widely among the th ree groups recruited to participate. The response rates from public officials repres enting agencies, Members of Congress and academia are 35%, 5% and 49% respectively. The lack of response from Congress illustrates their overall lack of interest in or understanding of the issue of hypoxia. Additionally, it is important to note that the willingness of participants to respond may have been influenced by political orientation or affiliation. Questionnaire Responses The discussion of the data obtained from the questionnaire is presented in two sections, the first section examines statements one through eleven which focus on the issue of hypoxia and the Action Plan while the second section examines the remaining statements which address the US Comm ission on Ocean Policy recommendations. A summary of the quantitative data obtained from the questionnaire is included in Table A3 and a summary of statistical data discussed in this section is in cluded in Table A-4. Finally, selected responses to the questionnaire not included in the following discussion are listed in Appendix G.
35 Hypoxia and the Action Plan Statement One Statement one asked participants to ra te the knowledge among decision makers in Midwestern States that an ar ea of hypoxia exists in the Nort hern Gulf of Mexico. A high response rate, 91%, indicates that most partic ipants were comfortable responding to this statement. The mean score of 6.9 reflects the perception that a majority of decision makers in the Midwest possess knowledge of the hypoxic area in the Gulf. A relatively high score was expected since public officials from state agencies within the basin participate on the Task Force. Additionall y, state agencies have submitted comments on the draft Action Plan as well as the Integrated Assessment The participation of state agencies in such processes signifies that decision makers from those agencies are aware of existence of the ar ea of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. However, according to one participant knowledge of members of the Task Force was high, but many of the decision makers in the states not involved in the Task Force are not likely to have much awareness. Additionally, the geographic distance between the Midwest and the Gu lf, which is approximately 1000 miles, could hamper the awareness of hypoxia among Midw estern decision-makers. 100 The standard deviation (2.32), and distribution of scores (Figure 3) illustrate the hi gh variation in the perception of this issue. 100 Lambrecht, Task Force Calls for Paying Farmers, 2.
012345678012345678910NRQuantitative Score Assigned Number of Responses Figure 3. Statement One: Distribution of Scores Statement Two Statement two asked participants to rate the potential of hypoxia to disrupt the Gulf Coasts fishing industry. A high response rate, 94%, indicates that most of the participants are comfortable responding to this statement. The perception of the potential for hypoxia to disrupt the fishing industry in the Gulf varies widely (Figure 4), as illustrated by the standard deviation of 2.54. This variation can be attributed to various factors. 012345678012345678910NRQuantitative Score Assigned Number of Responses Figure 4. Statement Two: Distribution of Scores 36
37 First, there is a dearth of empirical data illustrating a relationship between hypoxia and its impact on fisheries. Another reason is the ability of more motile species to flee the area of hypoxia. Third is the pe rception that other environmental conditions present a more pressing threat to fisheries. Dr. Brian Leblanc, A ssociate Professor of Watershed Management at Louisiana State Un iversity, offered the following explanation, hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is the most overrated threat to fisheries in the Gulf. Wetland deterioration is the most significant threat. The three reasons presented above can explain some of the variation of scores for this statement that are below the mean (6.7). Additionally, some participants submitted scores on the upper range of the scale. The following explanations illustrate reasons for an above average perception of the threat of hypoxia on Gulfs fishing industry. Although, actual catch has not shown any decline, the catch per unit effort has d ecreased, making fishing a more expensive endeavor. 101 As one participant explained the zo ne has already disrupted the industry, changing fishing practices and types of fish caught. Secondly, some species are more vulnerable to hypoxia than others. Furthermore, according to Dr. Matlock, Director of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Scien ce at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the largest and most valuab le commercial fishery in the GOM [Gulf of Mexico] is the penaeid shrimp fishery.Their benthic migration from estuaries to the adjacent Gulf as part of their annual life cycle makes them especially vulnerable 101 Zimmerman and Nance, 293.
The potential of hypoxia to disrupt the Gulfs fishing industry is uncertain; however, evidence from past fisheries collapses in other parts of the world 102 suggest that the possibility exists. While a hypoxia-induced collapse of Gulf fisheries is not imminent some species that are integral to the fishing industry in the area could be impacted and disrupt the Gulf fishing industry. Statement Three Statement three asked participants to evaluate the importance of addressing the issue of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. A response rate of 94% indicates that participants felt comfortable in responding to this statement. Although, the mean of this statement (8) is relatively high, the standard deviation (2.4) indicates that there is a lack of consensus on this issue (Figure 5). 02468101214012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 5. Statement Three: Distribution of Scores The wide range in scores could be a result of respondents geographic proximity to the issue; however, some of the elaborations submitted by participants challenge this idea. Dr. Lee Burras, Associate Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State, explains that 38 102 For further information on fishery collapses resulting from hypoxia see Rabalais, Turner, Wiseman A.K.A. The Dead Zone; Marine Resources Services, and Diaz Causes and Effects
39 addressing hypoxia is important for four reasons, first, th e ecological viability of the Gulf is at risk. Second, the economic viability of the Gulf fishing industry is at risk. Third, the economic viabili ty of tourism is at risk. Four th, hypoxia is an early warning that the watersheds lands area at risk, even tually, excessive nutrient leaks overcome the environmental buffering of the upper watershe d. On the other hand, LeBlanc, from Louisiana, cites that there is a growi ng body of evidence that the hypoxia conditions are not so abnormal. It was expected that participants from L ouisiana would rate the importance of this issue highly since it is more vi sible to them and they are more likely to be impacted than other participants from other states. The responses for this statement indicate that there are factors in addition to geographical prox imity to the hypoxic area that influence the perceived importance of addressing the hypoxic zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Statement Four Statement four asked particip ants to rate their confidence in the accuracy of the science underlying the Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Statement four has a response rate of 82%, a lower response rate than the previous three statements. The observe d decrease in response rate could be attributed to a hesitation to respond because of the new controversies associated with the science, or a lack of familiar ity with the issue among some participants. Although participants who responded to th is statement generally consider the science behind the Action Plan as good for the time, the scie nce has been challenged, not only by states, but also by federal agen cies. The following discussion of states challenging the science behind the Action Plan is not based on data from the
40 questionnaire, but is included here because it is pertinent to the discussion. Rabalais, Turner and Scavia noted that the Integrated Assessment the science behind the Action Plan was criticized. 103 Additionally, Illinois response to the draft action plan expressed concern about the scientific analys es that the recommendations in the Action Plan are based on. 104 Furthermore, a recent report issued by EPA region 4 highlights one such challenge. The Region 4 report suggests that in a ddition to addressing nitrogen loading, the Action Plan should also address phos phorus loading as well. 105 Several respondents also questioned the science underlying the Action Plan For example, Dr. Jorge Icabalceta, an economist at the Louisiana Department of Fi sh and Wildlife, responded a sound plan has to be based on sound science. I do not doubt th e scientific capabil ities of the people involved in this plan. I question the data they are basing their recommendations on. Despite the challenges mentioned above, the mean score for this statement was 6.9. Although the science has been challenge d and according to the response of Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Professor of Oceanography at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, this [science underlying the ac tion plan] is coming under fire even more now than when drafted by the individuals in the Midwest and with industry, a majority of the participants expressed their confiden ce in the science behind the plan. The above discussion, as well as the sta ndard deviation of 2.8 for this statement reflects the wide range in the confidence of the science underlying the plan (Figure 6). 103 Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 138. 104 Joe Hampton, Director IL Department of Agriculture Thomas V. Skinner, Director IL EPA, and Brent Manning, Director IL Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Response to the Draft Hypoxia Action Plan, September 8, 2000, http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/ docs/hypoxia/ILrsp2dap.asp (January 7, 2005). 105 US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. Evaluation of the Role of Nitrogen and Phosphorous in Causing or Contributing to Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf August 2004, Atlanta, GA. pp. 21.
012345678012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 6. Statement Four: Distribution of Scores Statement Five Statement five asked participants to rate the involvement of stakeholders in the development of the objectives set forth by the Action Plan. The response rate for statement five was 71%; over one quarter of the sample lacked the familiarity with the issue necessary to respond. Some of the participants, though knowledgeable about hypoxia and aware of the Action Plan, responded that they were not familiar with the specifics of the Action Plan and declined to answer (NR indicates non-response). The following information was not obtained from the questionnaire, but is pertinent to the discussion of stakeholder involvement. The Action Plan was prepared following the first seven public Task Force meetings which occurred between December 1997 and October 2000 in Virginia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri. 106 Each meeting had an opportunity for public comments. Additionally, the second meeting, which occurred in Louisiana in 1998, included a stakeholder session 41 106 Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, 31.
where the Task Force discussed issues with the stakeholders. 107 According to Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, stakeholders had an important role during the development of the Action Plan as well as the Integrated Assessment. 108 The diversity of the participants on the Task Force, the opportunities for public comment at meetings, as well as the opportunities to submit public comments on the draft and final Action Plan suggests that stakeholder participation was an integral part in the development of a strategy to reduce hypoxia. This assumption is challenged by the results from the questionnaire. A mean score of 6.4, and standard deviation of 2.7, indicates that the perception of the involvement of stakeholders is highly variable, as illustrated by Figure 7. 024681012012345678910NRQuantitatve Score AssignedNumber of Repsonses Figure 7. Statement Five: Distribution of Scores The development of the Action Plan provided the opportunity for stakeholder involvement; however, some stakeholders felt left out. As one participant stated, ultimately, the Task Force, which was all state and federal officials, had to make some 107 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Meeting Summary, Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, April 8-9, 1998, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 21, 2004, http://www.epa.gov/msbasin/2ndsummary.htm ( January 12, 2005). 42 108 Rabalais, Turner, Scavia, 138.
43 tough choices for the actual objectives at a few final meetings, therefore some stakeholders may have felt excluded from th at final decision making. Additionally, with such a wide range of stakeholders, the num ber of states and citizens and groups that would have been required made total invol vement difficult and somewhat daunting, as pointed out by William Franz, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Team Manager for Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. Fi nally, Dr. Andrew Slow, Director of the Marine Policy Center at Woods Holes Ocea nographic Institute, concluded involvement doesnt necessarily imply a real hand in developing a plan. Statement Six Statement six asked participants to rate the influence of indus tries, specifically agriculture and fertilizer, on the decision to remove the mention of a numerical goal for the reduction of N fertilizer [N discharge]. Over one-third of participants did not respond to statement five, resulting in a 62% respons e rate. This decrease in response rate indicates that an increasing number of participants lack the specific knowledge or willingness to respond. According to an October 12, 2000 article in the Times-Picayune (Louisiana), Joe Hampton, Director of Illinois Agriculture De partment, and Patty J udge, Secretary of Iowas Agriculture and Land Stewardship Department, opposed the inclusion of a numerical target for the reduc tion of nitrogen discharges during the seventh Task Force Meeting. 109 Additionally, the National Corn Gr owers Association (NCGA), in their comments on the Integrated Assessment, supported the removal of a numeric goal for the 109 Leslie Williams, Dead zone plan timid, Gulf States Say; Draft Skirts sp ecific goals, critics note. Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), October 12, 2000, National 2. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited March 14, 2004.]
reduction of nitrogen. 110 As demonstrated above, agricultural groups and agencies associated with such groups have supported the removal of the numeric target for the reduction of nitrogen. The data obtained from questionnaire responses also supports the argument that the agriculture and fertilizer industries have had an influence on the removal of a numeric target from the Action Plan. The mean score of 7.5, and standard deviation of 2.1, demonstrates that most participants perceive the influence of the industries in this issue as moderate to high (Figure 8). 02468101214012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 8. Statement Six: Distribution of Scores According to one participant, not only are there very close ties between these ag [agriculture] and fertilizer industries and certain federal agencies and state agencies, but the professional lobbyists from those industries were the most consistent and visible participants in the public discussions and comments. The perceived threat that this plan 44 110 Lynn O. Jensen, National Corn Growers Association. December 20, 1999, Comments on the Integrated Assessment of Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Submitted to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Working Group, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD.
45 could lead to regulation of those industri es was the principal driver for their high participation. The preceding discussion demonstrates the influence of industry on the removal of the numeric goals from the Action Plan ; however, the impact of the removal of the numeric goals for nitrogen from the Action Plan is uncertain. The removal of the numeric goal may encourage cooperation with th e voluntary plan of nut rient reductions. As Rabalais explained in her res ponse to this statement, the Action Plan would have never been signed by Iowa and possibly other states if ther e had been a numerical goal for nitrogen reduction. Several participants, agreed with the stance of some of the Midwest states as well as th e agricultural industry, and men tion in their responses that a numerical target is not appropriate. Statement 7 Statement seven asked participants to rate the potential economic impacts that the agricultural industry in the Midw est may incur as a result of the Action Plan Approximately 76% of participants responded, indicating that most of the participants possessed the knowledge or willingness to evaluate the statement. The Integrated Assessment identified various land management strate gies that can be utilized to achieve the objectives of the Action Plan These strategies includ e a reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use, as well as the rest oration of wetlands among other options. 111 111 CENR, 2000, Integrated Assessment of Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Washington, DC. This report provides a detailed discussion on land management strategies that could be utilized to improve water quality within the Mississippi River Basin.
Agricultural groups, such as the National Corn Growers Association, expressed concern over the economic impacts of the Action Plan on the agricultural industry 112 ; however, the results from the questionnaire indicate that the potential economic impact of the Action Plan on the agricultural industry will not be as significant as some fear. The mean score of 4.3 and standard deviation of 2.4 indicates that the perception of the impact of the Action Plan on the economy of the agricultural industry in the Midwest is low to moderate. Despite the low mean score there were participants who rated this statement moderate to high reflecting the perception of many in the agriculture industry as illustrated by Figure 9. 0123456789012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 9. Statement Seven: Distribution of Scores The variation in the perception of the impact can be attributed to the strategies utilized. As Dr. Philip Moore, a soil scientist from the United States Department of Agriculture, explains this [impact] depends on whether it is voluntary or not and what is required. My understanding is that most of it is voluntary. Under those conditions where people are getting incentive payments the rating would be 1 or 2. If growers are forced by 46 112 Jensen, 3
47 law to dramatically reduce fertilizer rates wi thout regards to the impact on yields, than the rating would be high (8-9). Additionall y, as one participant points out, based on the voluntary nature of Action Plan implementation and the fact that it relies on using existing management programs, many admini stered by the USDA, I believe adverse economic impacts will be minimized. Furthermore, because it relies on the use of existing management programs, it may be difficult to attribute adverse impacts exclusively to the Action Plan . The risk to producers should be mitigated through existing subsidies, conservation programs, such as those in the 2002 Farm Bill, and other types of economic incentives, therefore, the Midwest Agri cultural Industry should not incur any significant economic impacts as a result of the Action Plan Statement Eight Statement eight asked participants to ra te the impact of conflict between the objectives of the Gulf Fishing industry and the Midwest Agriculture /Fertilizer industries in the development and implementation of the Action Plan Only 65% of participants responded to this statements. This high level of non-response (NR) indicates that approximately one-third of the participants was not familiar with this issue or was unwilling to respond. Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico has the poten tial to impact the fisheries in the Gulf while any measure designed to reduce the hypoxia, such as the Action Plan could impact the agricultural industry in the Midwest. The potential impacts of the Action Plan on these industries have the potential to create conflict and impact the development and implementation of the plan. 113 While the potential for conflict exists, the mean score 113 Malakoff, 190.
(5.1) indicates that the participants perceive the impact on the conflict between the fishing and agricultural industries on the development an implementation of the Action Plan as moderate. Despite the moderate mean, the high standard deviation of 3.2 indicates that the mean most likely does not reflect the average perception of this issue, and the perception of this issue varies widely (Figure. 10). 02468101214012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 10. Statement Eight: Distribution of Scores According to one participant, this was not really significant conflict, as an us v. them sort of debate. So far, the fishing industry has not been significantly impacted so they are not extremely vocal in the debate. The big debate is between the agricultural industries and the water quality and ecosystem interests. As illustrated by the above discussion, the conflict between the fishing and agriculture industry is not perceived as greatly impacting the development or implementation of the Action Plan. There is more conflict between the economic interests of industries and the environmental interests of environmental groups, than between the economic interests of the fishing and agricultural industries. 48
49 Statement Nine Statement nine asked participants to rate the degree of variation among states in efforts to implement the Action Plan Only 62% of particip ants responded to this statement. This high rate of non-response signifies that over one-third of the sample lacked the familiarity or was unwilling to respon d. This issue is also difficult to assign value to for the reasons di scussed in this section. In January 2001, the nine states along th e Mississippi River: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mi ssouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin agreed to cut farm runoff; however, no specifics on how the states were planning to do so were available. 114 According to the short term actions of the Action Plan states were to establish sub-basin committees by summer of 2001; however, by this date only one such sub-basin committee had been formed, the Lower Mississippi Sub-Basin Committee. This committee was formed by representatives of Arkansas, Loui siana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Since then, three other sub-basin committees, the Ohio, Upper Mississippi and Missouri, have been formed, but not in conjunction with the timeline proposed by the Action Plan 115 This is one example of th e variation between states in their efforts to implement the Action Plan The questionnaire respondents also r ecognized a moderate-high degree of variation among states in their efforts to implement the Action Plan. This statement had 114 Bill Walsh, EPA aims to halve dead zone in Gulf; Nine states agree to cut farm runoff. TimesPicayune (New Orleans, LA) January 19, 2001, National 6. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited April 5, 2004.] 115 Ellen Athas, Testimony before the House subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans on Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control, Federal Document Clearing House Congressional Testimony (26 February 2004), available on-line fr om LexisNexis [cited December 09,2004].
an average score of 6.8, and a standard deviation of 3.2. This high standard deviation indicates a large variation in the perception of this issue, as illustrated by Figure 11. 02468101214012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 11. Statement Nine: Distribution of Scores On a national level, not much has been done to implement the Action Plan. Those states where hypoxia is most visible, either directly or indirectly, appear to be leading the implementation of the Action Plan. According to Dr. Donald Scavia, former Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations National Ocean Service, the Lower and Upper Mississippi States appear to have significant interest in implementation, and have begun some preliminary efforts. The middle states (Illinois, Iowa, etc.) appear to be lagging behind. It is important to note, however, that although some states have been more active in their efforts to implement the plan, almost all are behind schedule. There are a number of possible reasons for the variation in efforts to implement the plan. One participant responded that there will be tremendous variation in implementation as budgets, interpretation of programs, and honesty of reporting varies 50
51 across the watershed. There is a wide variat ion in the perception of the state efforts to implement the Action Plan as well as actual state efforts to implement the Action Plan Statement Ten Statement ten asked participants to rate the degree to which the Bush Administration has assisted in the promotion and implementation of the Action Plan Just over two-thirds of the samp le (68%) responded to this question. This fairly high nonresponse rate indicates either a lack of familiarity with th e issue being evaluated or a hesitation to respond because of polit ical orientation or affiliation. The impetus for the development of the Action Plan was the creation of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexi co Watershed Nutrient Task Force in 1997 by President Clinton. With the departure of the Clinton Administration, the future of the Action Plan was uncertain. After the plan was release d, in 2001, the Task Force was hopeful that efforts to improve water quality and decr ease hypoxia would receive some additional federal funding; however, the Bush Administ ration told the EPAs Gulf of Mexico Program office that they would not receive any additional funding to support the objectives of the plan. 116 Data from the questionnaire (mean = 2.8, st andard deviation =1.7) indicates that respondents do not perceive the Bush Administration as very involved in the promotion and implementation of the Action Plan Figure 12 illustrates the variation in the perception of the involvement of the Bush Administration in promoting and supporting the Action Plan 116 Mark Schleifstein, Dead zone panel must make do without extra aid; War, deficit trump nutrient cutting goal. TimesPicayune (New Orleans, LA), August 7, 200 3, Metro 4 [cited October 15, 2004.]
024681012012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 12. Statement Ten: Distribution of Scores Several respondents indicated that the lack of financial support from the Bush Administration is hindering the implementation of the Action Plan. Additionally, the lack of support from the Bush Administration has allowed challenges to the science underlying the Action Plan and the Action Plan itself. According to Scavia, while the Bush Administration has not killed the Action Plan or Task Force, its actions have been far from promoting it. The Task Force met only twice in the first 4 years of the Administration and there appears to be significant back-peddling in pushing for the programs and funding for implementation. It has allowed unreviewed and unpublished data from one EPA region to cast doubt on the thorough IA [Integrated Assessment] science and doesnt appear to have a clear path forward. In general, the degree to which the Bush Administration has promoted the implementation of the Action Plan has been low to moderate, at best. Statement Eleven Statement eleven asked participants to rate their perception of the effectiveness of the Action Plan. A response rate of 68% indicates that approximately one-third of the 52
53 participants did not respond to this question. The timeline of short term-actions within the Action Plan recommended nutrient reduction begin in 2003. Currently, there is a lack of data on water quality changes or changes in the area of hypoxia than can be attributed to the efficacy of the plan. However, part icipants based their perception on the efficacy of the plan on factors such as implementation, funding, support and cooperation. As discussed earlier in statement nine little has been done to implement the Action Plan which essentially limits its efficacy. However, as Katie Flahive, an environmental scientist for the EPA, points out if all 11 actions are completed in a timely manner, the science shows that a reduc tion in the size of the zone is possible. The future effectiveness of the plan is depe ndent on its implementation, as several of the participants pointed out. Furtherm ore, the voluntary nature of the Action Plan compromises its effectiveness. For the plan to be effective, farmers in the Midwest must cooperate. This is complicated because farmer s are skeptical that they are part of the problem leading to the hypoxia area. 117 Without the cooperatio n of the Midwestern agricultural industry the effectiveness of the Action Plan will be uncertain. The mean score of 3.5 and the standard devi ation of 2.7 indicate that participants perceive the efficacy of the plan as low to moderate. While there is a high standard deviation, a majority of the scores are dist ributed towards the low end of the scale. However, as illustrated by Figure 13, there is a general lack of consensus on the perceived effectiveness of the Action Plan 117 Walsh, 6.
024681012012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 13. Statement Eleven: Distribution of Scores Although the effectiveness of the Action Plan is questionable, the plan is important because it elevates the issue of hypoxia in the Gulf to the national level. As one participant concluded, the Action Plan is going in the right direction. US Commission on Ocean Policy Recommendations Statement 12 Statement twelve asked participants to rate their familiarity with the recommendations set forth by the US Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) regarding non-point source pollution and hypoxia. The US Commission on Ocean Policy released its final report An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century on September 21, 2004. The report contained over 200 recommendations; however, the recommendations of interest to this thesis were 14-3, and 14-7 through 14-10 in Chapter 14: Addressing Coastal Water Pollution. There were 16 public meetings of the Commission on Ocean Policy between September 2001 and July 2004. Environmental groups, members of academia, public 54
officials from state and federal agencies as well as tribes and private citizens presented public comments at Commission Meetings as well as on the Commissions Preliminary Report. 118 The report also received media attention in newspapers, magazines and television. A high percentage (85%) of participants responded to this statement. The mean score for this statement (4.6) indicates a moderate familiarity with the recommendations among respondents. The standard deviation of 2.65 indicates that the familiarity with the recommendations were highly variable, as illustrated by Figure 14. 012345678910012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 14. Statement Twelve: Distribution of Scores The familiarity of the participants with the recommendations was attributed to their affiliation and involvement with the issue of hypoxia. While many members of academia were not familiar with the recommendations, some had participated in the development of the recommendations. Rabalais, for example responded, I was involved in testimony to the Ocean Commission, and Admiral Watkins the Chair, was briefed by me and others on several occasions about this issue, both in the Gulf and other areas of 55 118 See www.oceancommission.gov for archived public comments presented to the US Commission on Ocean Policy.
56 the US. He and others on the Commission were very aware of this issue. I followed the whole process and was involved from incep tion to current pending legislation. The wide range of scores can be attributed to varying levels of exposure to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy s report. Many members of the federal agencies, and some academics, were engaged in the development of those recommendations in some capacity. Other members of academia, state and federal agencies were less familiar with the report. Statement Thirteen Statement thirteen asked participants to rate the potential of the relevant recommendations (14-3, 14-7 through 14-10) in the US Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) report being implemented and enforc ed. Approximately three-quarters (74%) of the participants responded to this question. The response rate for this statement is lower than that of statement twelve, which aske d participants to rate their familiarity with the recommendations. It is assumed that the decrease is the result of a non-response from participants who are not familiar with the recommendations. The development of the USCOP repor t, like the development of the Action Plan provided multiple opportunities for public comment. The agricultural industry, especially the Farm Bureaus, actively participated in the comment process, often challenging the recommendations set forth by the report. They objected to the recommendation 14-7 regarding the alignment of US DA conservation programs with e fforts of other agencies to combat non-point source water pollution because conservation programs through the USDA are voluntary and incentive based, while EPA programs aimed at reducing non-
57 point source pollution are the opposite. 119 Additionally, the Iowa Farm Bureau challenged EPAs regulatory authority regarding the Clean Water Act and Recommendation 14-3, which suggests that states impose stricter regulations on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (C AFOs) in order to ach ieve a desired water quality. Many states already regulate CAFOs. 120 In addition to the influence of industry, the current presidential administration must also be considered when evaluating the potential of the relevant recommendations in the US Commission report being implemented and enforced. The US Commission on Ocean Policy was created by the Bush Admini stration in accordance with the Oceans Act of 2000. 121 Additionally, on December 17, 2004 President Bush signed an executive order establishing a new Committee on Ocean Policy. 122 Furthermore, the recently released U.S. Ocean Action Plan-the Bush Ad ministrations Response to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy highlights the importance of the USCOP report and lends support to many of its objectiv es, including those addressed at reducing non-point source pollution. 123 The U.S Ocean Action Plan outlines various actions that have the potential to improve water quality and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the most salient 119 Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau Federation, Public Comment on the Preliminary Report, US Commission on Ocean Policy. June 4, 2004, www.o ceancommission.gov/publicomme nt.htm (January 12, 2005). 120 Rick Robinson, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Public Comment on Preliminary Report, US Commission on Ocean Policy, September 17, 2004, www.oceancommission.gov/ publicomment.htm (January 11, 2005). 121 Information of the Oceans Act of 2000. January 2003. http://www.oceancommission.gov/documents/oceanact.html#commission (November 13, 2004). 122 Chairman of the US Ocean Commission Commends on Initial Step towards National Ocean Policy, December 17, 2004, http ://www.oceancommission.gov/n ewsnotices/dec17_04.htm l (January 5, 2005). 123 Council on Environmental Quality, December 2004, U.S Ocean Action Plan-the Bush Administrations Response to the U.S Commission on Ocean Policy http://ocean.ceq.gov/actionplan.pdf (Februar y 19, 2005)
58 recommendations regarding hypoxia in the Gu lf is the notion of using grants and incentive programs to improve water quality. The administration, in this report, proposes targeted watershed grants and the use of the USDA farm bill as possible ways to improve water quality. 124 The availability of economic incentiv es and assistance will be integral in gaining the support of i ndustry and promoting the recommendation of the USCOP. While the administration appears to be supporting the recommendations of the US Ocean Commission, in general, it is uncertain whether this will be sufficient impetus for the implementation and enforcement of the reco mmendations. The interests of industry, specifically agriculture, have the ability to hi nder such progress. The previous discussion is based on data obtained from comments to the USCOP and other primary sources. The following discussion is based on data obtained from the questionnaire. The mean score of 4.6 for this statement on a scale of ten reflects the perception that there is a moderate potential of those recommendations included in chapter fourteen, that address non-point source pollution, of the USCOP repor t being implemented and enforced. The standard deviation of 2.65 indicates a hi ghly variable perception of the climate surrounding the future of the recommendations (Figure 15). 124 Council on Environmental Quality, 27.
012345678910012345678910NRQuantitative Score AssignedNumber of Responses Figure 15. Statement Thirteen: Distribution of Scores As one participant concluded, unfortunately, the broad political impact of the Commission has not been great. So far the only major impact I am aware of is that NOAAs budget has gotten a boost this year. Neither the Pew Report nor the Ocean Commissions Report did what might have been hoped. As discussed earlier in this section, the USCOP report and the US Ocean Action Plan both recommend the use of incentives and incentive based programs as a tool to reduce non-point source pollution. Columbus Brown, Special Assistant to the Regional Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service, identified the use of such programs as very important to the success of the recommendations. In his questionnaire response, Brown stated it is very likely that the Commission Report will be implemented. Non-regulatory approaches are extremely important to real success. It is important to note that the preceding discussion only pertains to the perceptions of respondents regarding the recommendations in chapter 14, specifically recommendations 14-3, and 14-7 through 14-10, and not to the entire report. Additionally, the report was just released in late 2004 and it has not yet been evaluated by the public. As Matlock points out in his response to 59
60 the questionnaire at this point, it is unclear how likely it is that the most meaningful recommendations will be implemented. But, Im optimistic that it is as likely as it is unlikely.
61 CHAPTER 3: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Conclusions This thesis served three objectives. Firstl y, it examined the perceived efficacy of the Action Plan. Secondly, it tested the hypothesis that the relative economic power of the fishing, agricultural and fertilizer industries compete a nd inhibit the development of an effective national strate gy to mitigate seasonal hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Finally, this thesis also evaluated the climate within which the government and stakeholders are to act, or not, on the reco mmendations set forth by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy to combat non-point source pollu tion as related to the formation of the dead zone. Since the inception of le gislation designed to combat hypoxia in 1998, the situation has not changed. Senator Olympi a Snowe (ME) recognize s the persistence of the problem, and states that harmful algal blooms and Hypoxia are just as much of a problem as they were in 1998, when we passed the original bill. It is clear the problems have not gone away. 125 The Action Plan was created almost four years ago, and yet the problem of hypoxia continues to exist toda y. So far the effectiveness of the Action Plan has been mixed at best. While the plan has provided increased atten tion to the issue, the implementation of the short term goals as de scribed by the plan is behind schedule. The 125 Senator Olympia Snowe, United States Congress, Se nate, Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions, S. 247 Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research Amendments of 2003 (108 th Congress, 1 st Session, 149 Cong Re S 1737, January 29, 2003). Available on-line from LexisNexis Congressional [cited September 23, 2004].
62 timeline mandated by Congress for the implementation of certain actions has not been satisfied. Furthermore, Congress has faile d to implement and enforce the plan. 126 One requirement of the Action Plan is that it be reassessed by December 2005, and every five years following. This reassessment is currently in progress. The three long term goals: Coastal Goal, Within Basin Goal, and Quality of Life Goal will be evaluated as part of this process, and revisions will be made to the strategies if necessary. 127 The issue of hypoxia in the Gulf of Me xico can be considered a common-pool resource problem because of the wide range of stakeholders that utilize the Mississippi River Basin. The nature of the Mississippi River Basin complicates efforts designed to mitigate hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexi co because any such effort would require cooperation from the various stakeholder group s within the Basin. The effectiveness of the Action Plan is compromised by its voluntary manner. The case of the Action Plan illustrates the notion th at individuals sharing a common-pool resource will not volu ntarily act in the best in terest of the group without coercion or incentives. In this case, the th reat of EPA regulatio n and the potential inclusion of a numerical target for nitrogen reductions in the Action Plan mobilized the agricultural industry to oppose such actions. Similarly, the Task Force concluded that the solution to hypoxia in the Gulf was to pay farmers. 128 In order to develop an effective strategy to combat hypoxia in the Northern Gulf the issue must gain more attention on the national level. Unfortunately, the development of a national strategy such as the Action Plan does not signify that the issue is perceived 126 Athas, 6. 127 Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, 14. 128 Lambrecht, Task Force calls for paying farmers, 2.
63 as nationally important. Despite the value of th e basin to a wide range of people, the issue only appears to be of significant importance on a regional level; to those who could be directly or indirectly impacted by hypoxia or effo rts to mitigate it. It has yet to appear as a prominent issue on the national agenda. The Action Plan allowed for a high level of st akeholder involvement; however, members of the Task Force were ultimately responsible for the recommendations made. Some of the stakeholder groups that participat ed in this process were more successful in the promotion of their interests. The agri culture lobby has been hi ghly engaged in this endeavor for a number of reasons, particularly the perceived threat of EPA regulations and the perceived threat of th e economic impacts of the plan. The lobbying efforts of the agriculture and fertilizer industries, as well as their ties with state and federal agencies allowed them to exert significant in fluence on the development of the Action Plan As Kingdon explains a group that mobilizes suppor t, writes letters, sends delegations and stimulates allies to do the same can get govern mental officials to pay attention to its issue. As one of my respondents described th e way subjects rise through his departments to the secretarys level due to group pressure, Generally speaking, the louder they squak the higher is gets. Then when I asked him why other groups werent paid much attention, he replied, they dont come in very often; they just dont come in. 129 Unlike other stakeholder groups, the agricultu ral industry has the capacity to mobilize and effectively promote their interests. Cu rrently, there is no co mparable group for the fishing industry. 129 Kingdon, 52.
64 The central hypothesis of this thesis wa s that economic conflict between the aforementioned industries inhibited the develo pment of an effective strategy to address hypoxia; however, the results obta ined suggest otherwise. The lack of involvement of the fishing industry, and not conflict between the fi shing and agriculture/fertilizer industries, has influenced the development of the Action Plan Interests of the agriculture and fertilizer industries were represented; those of the fishing industry were not. However, the potential for hypoxia to impact the Gulf fishing industry, especially the shrimp fisheries, could renew the intere sts of the fishing industry and l ead to conflicts of interest between the fishing a nd agriculture industrie s in the future. The lobbying efforts of the Midwest ag ricultural industry were successful in having the numerical goal for nitrogen reduc tion removed from the initial pages of the Action Plan and replaced with a voluntary recomm endation for an overall decrease in nitrogen loss. Farmers feared that the numerical targ et would lead to new regulations on non-point source pollution; however, the hypoxia Task Force does not have the authority to create any new regulations or mandate compliance. The voluntary compliance of the Action Plan further reflects the influence of the Midwestern industries on the development of policy. 130 Other groups, such as the fishi ng industry that do not have the economic power to mobilize groups to attend Ta sk Force meetings were less influential in the development of the Action Plan The combination of the influence of the ag riculture and fertiliz er industries of the Midwest and factors such as the lack of basin wide coope ration, high variation between states in implementation efforts, and lack of funding have potentially limited the efficacy 130 Bill Lambrecht, Farm Conservation Money Stir s Hope for Shrinking Dead Zone in Gulf, St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 11, 2002, A4. Available on-line from LexisNexis [cited April 4, 2004.]
65 of the Action Plan Cooperation between states, the ag riculture, fertilizer industries and other stakeholders, including th e fishing industry and environm ental groups is essential to the effectiveness of the Action Plan and the USCOP recommenda tions. It is especially important to have the cooperation of the states north of the Ohio River since over 56% of the nitrate load originates in this area. 131 The impact of the voluntary measures proposed by the Action Plan is uncertain and largely depe ndent on the cooperation among the states and industries in the basin. The potential impact of any policy or plan designed to combat hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico could have significant impacts on stakeholder groups. However, there are two factors that s hould mitigate the economic impacts of the Action Plan on the Midwest agriculture industry. First, is the voluntary nature of the Action Plan Second, is the funding available through existing programs such as those in the 2002 Farm bill that provide incentives and assi stance for many of the land management alterations suggested by the Action Plan The 2002 Farm Bill authorized the spending of $17 billion over the next ten years to improve water quality and other objectives. 132 It is important to note that the Farm Bill does not stipulate that money provided must be used to address hypoxia. The Conservation Securities Program (CSP), which was not included in the 1996 Farm Bill, is specifically of interest in the discussion of hypoxia. The CSP offers economic incentives as well as technical assistance to farmer s who practice good stewar dship on agricultural land. 133 Other programs under the 2002 Farm Bill that could benefit the effort to combat 131 Rabalais, Turner and Scavia, 140. 132 Lambrecht, Farm Conservation Money, A4. 133 US Commission on Ocean Policy, 214.
66 hypoxia include the Environmental Quality In centives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). 134 Although Farm Bill money is not targeted at hypoxia, many of the activities supported by the bill may combat hypoxia by improving water quality. Two such activities, as identified by Mitsch et al. were the alteration of ag ricultural practices and the creation of riparian buffers as two possible ways to decrease the nitrogen flux into the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, they noted that a combination of measures, rather than the implementation of a single policy, will be more effective at reducing hypoxia. 135 Overall, the conservation programs offered through the USDA, government subsidies, and the more efficient use of fertilizer should prevent any substantial impacts and may economically benefit the agricultural industry for cooperating with th e objectives of the Action Plan The successful implementation and enforcement of the recommendations set forth by the US Commission on Ocean Policy re garding non-point source pollution as it pertains to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico faces many of the same obstacles that the Action Plan has faced and continues to face. Un like many other policy options designed to address non-point source pollution the final report from the USCOP, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century recommends increased federal involvement in addition to the use of incentives. 136 The agriculture indus try supports the use of incentives, but objects to the proposed increased federal invol vement on the grounds that it may result in additional regulations on the industries. As with the Action Plan the lobbying of the 134 USDA, 2003. Conservation, Farm Bill 2002. http://www.usda.gov/farmb ill/conservation_fb.html (October 12, 2004). 135 Mitsch et al., 382. 136 US Commission on Ocean Policy, 218.
67 agricultural industries, in a ddition to the relationship be tween the agricultural and fertilizer industries and state and federal agencies, as well as the involvement of the current administration could impact the fu ture of the USCOP recommendations. Although the Action Plan focuses on voluntary measures, the importance of effective regulation in controlling hypoxi a has been demonstrated in previous examinations of hypoxia. Diaz explains that the only ecosystems where oxygen conditions have improved are those that have been subject to intensive regulations. 137 If the Action Plan is to succeed in achieving its goals of a reduction in the area of hypoxia, an improvement of water quality within th e basin, and an improvement of the economic conditions within the basin th e federal agencies and decisi on-makers must not only take into account those groups that actively promote their interests, but must also consider the interests of those groups that are not well represented. Additionally, the cooperation of the states and industries within the basin is integral to the success of the plan. Without this the only chance may be increased state and/or federal regulation. If stakeholders can significantly influence the development of objectives of the Action Plan as demonstrated by this study, future attempts to comb at non-source pollution and hypoxia could face similar obstacles. Recommendations The following recommendations focus on some of the more significant obstacles to the success of the Action Plan and the USCOP report. These include lack of awareness, under-represented stakeh olders, and agricu ltural subsidies. 137 Diaz Overview of hypoxia, 278.
68 An increased awareness of hypoxia in the Gu lf of Mexico could lead to increased pressure on Members of Congress as well as fe deral and state agencies to implement the recommendations of both the Action Plan and the USCOP report. Increased coordination of programs designed to comb at hypoxia in various areas throughout the United States, such as the Gulf, Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island Sound, could increase visibility of this issue on the national level. The increased involvement of various stak eholder groups would also be useful to the development of effective strategies to co mbat hypoxia. It has been demonstrated that certain groups were not as active as others in the development of the Action Plan Two possible reasons for this are a lack of awarene ss or the lack of financial means to attend meetings. Increased coordination of stake holder groups, such as the fishing industry, could help address the lack of awareness, as well as the lack of capacity to attend meetings, by provided an increased pool of re sources. This would increase the range of participation in the development process, which is currently dominated by a few industries. The following recommendation is pertinent to both the Action Plan and the USCOP report. The success of both of th ese endeavors is dependent on available funding. Currently, no funding sources are aimed at land management strategies that are specifically directed to hypoxia. Instead of the federal government subsidizing agriculture, the money should be put into a fund to be distributed to members of the agricultural community who engage in the good land stewar dship on a day-day basis, not just those who make a significant change in land management behavior. Subsidies discourage crop rotation because only certain crop such as corn and soybeans are
69 subsidized. Both of these crops are associated with high loses of nitrogen. 138 The failure to develop policy that effectively addresses this issue may lead to the development of perverse subsidies and a continuance of ecosy stem damage in the form of hypoxia. 138 Burkart and James, 857.
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75 Appendix A: Public Officials (Federal and State) Recruite d to Participate (In alphabetical order) Arkansas, Soil and Water Conservation Commission Council on Environmental Quality Department of the Interior Department of Justice Illinois, State Water Survey Iowa, Department of Agricu lture and Land Stewardship Louisiana, Department of Fish and Wildlife Minerals Management Service Mississippi, Department of Environmental Quality Missouri, Department of Natural Resources Tennessee, Department of Agriculture U.S Department of Commerce-National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration U.S. Army Corp of Engineer s-Mississippi Valley Division U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service U.S. Geological Survey White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources
76 Appendix B: Offices of Congre ss Recruited to Participate (In Alphabetical Order) Senator Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Representative Judy Biggert, Illinois Representative Jo Bonner, Alabama Senator John Breaux, Louisiana Representative Sherrod Brown, Ohio Senator Chris Bond, Missouri Senator Thad Cochran, Mississippi Senator John Cornyn, Texas Representative Jim Davis, Florida Senator Mark Dayton, Iowa Representative William Delahunt, Massachusetts Senator Mike Dewine, Ohio Senator Richard Durbin, Illinois Representative Vernon Ehlers, Michigan Senator Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Senator Peter Fitzgerald, Illinois Representative Mark Foley, Florida Senator Bill Frist, Tennessee Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa Senator Norm Grassley, Minnesota Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa Representative Katherine Harris, Florida Senator Fritz Hollings, South Carolina Senator Kay Hutchinson, Texas Representative Christopher John, Louisiana Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur, Ohio Representative Ron Kind, Wisconsin
77 Appendix B (Continued) Representative John Kline, Minnesota Senator Herb Kohl, Wisconsin Senator Mary Landrieu, Louisiana Representative Tom Latham, Iowa Representative Jim Leach, Iowa Senator Carl Levin, Michigan Representative Sander Levin, Michigan Senator Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Representative William Lipinski, Illinois Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi Representative George Miller, California Representative Chad Pickering, Mississippi Senator Mark Pryor, Arkansas Representative E. Clay Shaw, Florida Senator Olympia Snowe, Maine Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Senator James Talent, Missouri Representative Billy Tauzin, Louisiana Representative Gene Taylor, Mississippi Representative Fred Upton, Michigan Senator George Voinovich, Ohio Representative Robert Wexler, Florida
78 Appendix C: Universities and Inst itutes Recruited to Participate (In alphabetical order) Auburn University Virginia Institute of Marine Science Cornell University Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Florida Institute of Oceanography Iowa State University Louisiana State University Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium Princeton University Purdue University Ohio State University Texas A&M University of Arkansas University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign University of Maryland-Center for Environmental Science University of Miami University of Michigan University of Minnesota University of Missouri-Columbia University of South FloridaSt. Petersburg University of Southern Mississippi University of Tennessee University of Wisconsin
79 Appendix D: Copy of Questionnaire Questionnaire One a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the least, 5 being moderate and 10 being the greatest) please rate the following. After rating th e statement by circling the desired number, please use the space below to briefly explain your rating. 1. The knowledge among decision makers in Mi dwestern States that an area of hypoxia exists in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 2. The potential of hypoxia to disrupt the Gulf Coasts Fishing Industry. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 3. The importance of addressing the issue of hypoxia in the Gulf. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 4. Your confidence in the accuracy of the science underlying the Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico ( hereafter referred to as the Action Plan ). 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 5. The involvement of stakeholders in the development of the objectives set forth by the Federal Action Plan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 6. The effectiveness of the Action Plan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________
80 Appendix D (Continued) 7. The influence of industries, specifically agriculture and ferti lizer, on the decision to remove the mention of a numerical goal for the reduction in N fertilizer use from the Action Plan. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 8. The potential economic impacts that the agriculture industry in the Midwest may incur as a result of the Action Plan. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 9. The impact of the conflict between the obj ectives of the Gulf Fishing Industry and the Midwest Agriculture/Fertilizer Industries in the development and implementation of the Action Plan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 10. The degree of variation among states in efforts to implement the Action Plan. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 11. The degree to which the Bush Administration has assisted in the promotion and implementation of the Action Plan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 12. Your familiarity with the recommenda tions set forth by the US Commission on Ocean Policy regarding non-point source pollution and hypoxia. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ 13. The potential of the relevant recommendations in the US Commission report being implemented and enforced. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________
81 Appendix E: Short-term Actions as Outlined by Action Plan 1. By December 2000the Task Force submit proposal for additional funds. 2. By summer 2001sub-basin committees will be established. 3. By fall 2001develop a strategy to coordi nate and promote additional research programs to reduce scientific uncertainties. 4. By spring 2002expand the l ong-term monitoring program. 5. By spring 2002expand the existing monitoring efforts within the basin. 6. By fall 2002develop nutrient reduction strategies. 7. By December 2002nutrient reduction actio ns will be studied by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, if funding is obtained from Congress. 8. By January 2003, or on a time frame established by sub-basin committees, significant point source dischargers w ithin the MARB will be identified. Measures will be taken to reduce the di schargers in accordance with action #6. 9. By spring 2003, or on a time frame establis hed by sub-basin committees, increase assistance to landowners for vol untary conservation efforts. 10. By spring 2003, or on a time frame establis hed by sub-basin committees, increase assistance to agricultural producers for the implementation of best-management practices (BMPs) which are effective in addressing nitrate flux. 11. By December 2005, and every 5 years thereaf ter, the Task For ce will reassess the reduction of nutrients and the response of the hypoxic area. The Task Force will then re-evaluate current strategies and make revisions if necessary.
82 Appendix F: Data Year Number of Results in Major News Sources Number of Results in Regional News Total Annual Incidence 1985 0 0 0 1986 0 0 0 1987 1 0 1 1988 0 0 0 1989 0 0 0 1990 0 0 0 1991 0 0 0 1992 0 0 0 1993 0 2 2 1994 0 4 4 1995 0 12 12 1996 1 11 12 1997 1 14 15 1998 4 30 34 1999 1 35 36 2000 2 60 62 2001 2 23 25 2002 5 24 29 2003 2 27 29 Total 19 242 261 Table A-1. Annual Incidence of Keywords in Major National Newspapers and Southern and Midwestern Regional Sources (1985-2003)
83 Appendix F (Continued) Year Number of Results Congressional Records Number of Results in Congressional Testimony Total Annual Incidence in Congressional Documents 1988 4 0 4 1989 4 0 4 1990 2 0 2 1991 4 0 4 1992 2 0 2 1993 3 2 5 1994 0 0 0 1995 0 0 0 1996 0 0 0 1997 3 7 10 1998 5 25 30 1999 2 22 24 2000 6 13 19 2001 5 13 18 2002 1 7 8 2003 4 9 13 Total 45 98 143 Table A-2. Annual Incidence of Ke ywords in Congressional Sources (1988-2003)
Appendix F (Continued) y = 0.0015x 4.7906R2 = 0.2777-100102030405060700500010000150002000025000Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (Sq Km)Annual Incidence in Printed News Sources Figure A-1. The Relationship between the Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1985-2002) and the Annual Incidence of Keywords in Newspapers the Following Year y = 0.0003x + 3.2011R2 = 0.04260510152025300500010000150002000025000Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (Sq Km)Annual Incidence in Congressional Documents Figure A-2. The Relationship between the Annual Estimated Area of Hypoxia (1987-2002) and the Annual Incidence of Keywords in Congressional Documents the Following Year 84
85 Appendix F (Continued) Participant Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 1 6 7 9 8 8 7 4 3 9 5 4 6 4 2 8 6 8 7 6 7 4 4 8 4 8 2 2 3 10 8 10 9 10 10 3 5 NR 4 5 9 5 4 10 3 10 6 5 5 1 1 7 1 1 1 1 5 10 5 3 8 10 8 5 5 1 5 6 2 5 6 7 6 7 7 NR NR 4 NR NR 2 2 6 3 7 7 1 1 2 1 NR NR NR 1 NR NR NR 0 8 9 8 8 9 7 8 7 7 9 5 5 10 7 9 NR 5 10 7 3 3 10 1 NR 1 1 1 NR 10 6 8 8 5 3 NR 5 5 9 2 3 7 1 11 10 2 5 0 3 NR NR NR NR NR 0 10 10 12 NR NR 7 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 8 5 13 3 10 8 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 7 1 14 10 7 10 10 10 10 3 1 10 3 3 8 6 15 7 10 10 10 7 NR 6.5 NR 7 3 NR 8 NR 16 8 6 8 9 10 8 7 5 9 3 3 8 5 17 9 8 10 5 7 6 1 1 7 5 8 5 8 18 5 3 5 1 3 10 7 9 10 1 3 1 NR 19 NR 5 8 7 3 9 4 NR NR 1 1 0 NR 20 7 9 8 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 0 NR 21 4 10 10 NR NR NR 3 NR NR NR NR NR NR 22 5 4 3 6 8 3 3 0 0 NR 0 NR NR 23 5 NR NR 3 8 9 3 8 10 1 2 8 2 24 2.5 10 10 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 25 5 10 10 10 5 NR 5 10 10 1 5 2 5 26 9 8 9 6 5 9 2 9 5 1 2 4 3 27 3.5 7 10 NR NR 8 3 10 NR 3 NR 8 8 28 3 6 5 5 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 29 10 7 8 9 8 8 3 6 8 3 6 8 6 30 8 3 8 9 6 7 3 3 3 1 2 3 3 31 7 5 10 9 NR NR 2 NR 8 NR NR 10 8 32 7 8 10 10 9 5 10 5 8 7 8 9 8 33 6 10 9 8 8 9 2 5 4 3 3 8 4 34 7 8 NR 9 NR 9 NR 10 NR NR NR 8 5 Table A-3. Summary of Questionnaire Data (NR indicates Non-Response)
86 Appendix F (Continued) N=34 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 Number of responses 31 32 32 28 24 21 26 22 21 23 23 29 25 Mean score 6.90 6.66 7.97 6.93 6.38 7. 52 4.25 5.14 6.81 2.82 3.52 5.76 4.6 Range 7.5 9 9 10 9 7 9 9 10 6 8 10 10 Standard deviation (Sx) 2.32 2.54 2.4 2.77 2.68 2.09 2.4 3.23 3.2 1.74 2.47 3.33 2.65 Variance (Sx)2 5.38 6.45 5.76 7.67 7.18 4.37 5. 76 10.4 10.2 3.03 6.1 11.1 7.02 Table A-4. Statistical Summ ary of Questionnaire Data
87 Appendix G: Summary of Sel ected Questionnaire Responses Statement 1. Most decision makers are aware, but it isnt a top priority. As I speak with decision makers and r ead the reports and newspapers, everyone (legislaturers (sic), congress members, leaders, farms, NGOs) all recognize hypoxia exists. They dont agree on its impor tance, extent or causes, necessarily, but they accept that its there. Between federal legislation, media c overage, and intera gency action groupawareness is high. They are aware and some put a lot of ef fort into trying to debunk the idea that their states are causing the problem. Public at large in mid-western states know little about hypoxia, not high on the radar of decision makers, nor does it impact their communities. Similar situation in North LA. I think most decision makers see it as a more local problem, and do not have the downstream thinking that would make them more concerned about the Gulf. A significant fraction of the populati on, including decision makers, dont pay attention as long as it doesn t affect their daily lives. Statement 2. It already has, but perhaps not catastr ophically. For example, shrimpers have to travel farther to fish Given the open nature of this continenta l shelf and the ability for recruitment, the likelihood that this part of the Gulf would suffer the se rious fishery problems of the Baltic and Black Sea are less likely. D isruption comes in the form of altered fishing techniques and locations, inability to fish, added expenses to fish. I believe there is a significant, unq uantified risk to the shrimp industry. Hypoxia makes it very difficult to predic t what types of fishing systems and what limits should be imposed by governments in order to insure the sustainability of a productive Gu lf Coast Fishing Industry. The only thing that has been documents in the size of the hy poxic zone. It is not clear what the consequences can be in the short and long term. It appears that if you have hypoxia in a cer tain are, animals are smart enough to move out of it. There probably would or might be something to do with oysters living in a certain area, that dont really have time or dont tend to move around a whole lot. Given the fact that nutrien t loads in the Mississippi/Athchafalaya have decreased and there is a plan to reduce loads further, I do not envisage future worsening of hypoxia or disruption of the industry, if nut rient loads from the M/A are the cause of the problem. More important threat is the destruction of the coastal estuaries that are breeding grounds.
88 Appendix G (Continued) Statement 3. The Clean Water Act commits the country to restore the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of our nations waters The Gulf Hypoxic Zone is one of the most visible and worsening water quality blights in the country. I dont think that impacts or effects of the dead zone in the Gulf as a whole are well communicated if known, other than that it exists and has existed for some time. Many folks see the dead-zone research as just that-more research without practical application or reason. At this point in time, its a 1, because we dont know if or where any damages are occurring; neither do we know what would need to be done physically to eliminate the problem, nor, what the costs might be. based on my (admittedly limited) understanding, I would say that hypoxia is more a symptom than it is a root issue, so while its an important problem to solve, the solutions dont necessarily lie in addres sing hypoxia per se. non-point source pollution, agricu ltural runoff, etc, are the problems to address. This, like global climate change, might be viewed as an insu rance situation. We do not expect our house to burn down, but we have fire insurance. If for no other reason, some basic prevention should be undertaken to mitigate the risk of future environmental disruption that might stem from the existing hypoxia. From a Minnesota perspective this has 2 components: 1) a fundamental environmental ethics issue-we dont have the right to damage other peoples environments, and 2) because this appear s to be a serious issue there could be serious repercussions on Minnesota agri culture if this is not addressed. Hard to say without knowing how damaging it is or how much it would cost to control. Statement 4 The science that went into the development of the Action Plan was good and used the best information available. As we learn more and our understanding is increased we need to be able to be flexible and adjust to our improved understanding. the science doesnt include anything to do with the damages nor costs or remediation, it all has to do with aerial extent. It was the best that the limited number of scientists could have put together in the limited time available. There were seve ral impediments to a higher quality assessment. The scientific inquiry behind the plan was limited by the committee structure. The time to complete the plan was limited. The general agricultural research community, which will ultimately be asked to discover solutions to nonpoint source nutrient loads, was not openl y invited to participate in enquiry.
89 Appendix G (Continued) The CENR assessment is flawed and inaccurate and does not provide a sounds scientific basis for effect ive action. A key question to ask is how the nation could have been so ill servedThey used a concocted nutrient ration which has no scientific basisbased on this flawed science, the concluded that it would be appropriate to reduce nitrogen load by about 30%. I am very confident in the science base. The IA was based on six technical reports that had gone through extensive peer review and public comment phase, as well as a myriad of published informati on. The IA was also subjected to public comment, and most of the information was reviewed and discussed in scientific meetings and the Task Force public meeti ngs. It would be difficult to find a body of science more thoroughly reviewed. Statement 5. Hypoxia Task Force has meetings at least once a month which has a major public involvement component The Action Plan itself was coordinated with the public, both in terms of gett ing opinions up front and on review of the final draft. The Action Plan reassessment effort which is now underway has major public involvement aspects including public works hops and review of the final draft. If you are looking at agriculture, the people th at talk to me in agriculture feel like it has just been a paper exercise by the EPA as far as theyre concerned and its been a ton of money spent with very fe w people in terms of determining aerial extent. It all depends on who the stakeholders rea lly are. Im sure the agency types are involved, at least on the surface. Folks work ing in point source facilities may be involved (farmers are not). My understanding is that the objectives were developed by CENR, especially USEPA. Efforts were made, but I do not believe th at all stakeholders were adequately represented. Given the very large ar ea of MS River Basin and the large geographic distances between public meetings it was not always possible to have continuity or representation, except from some of the better funded groups. It seems to me that most of the sta keholders that developed the action plan were from state and federal agencies. In later stages, I would hope that others would be involved-landowners, developers fishing industry, universities, etc. Good faith bureaucratic efforts were ma de to get stakeholders involved; however, stakeholders, represents such a plethora of individuals, views and needs that I am confident that unexpected stakeh olders will emerge as the Action Plan goes forth. There needs to be a mechanism to allow these folks to be part of the program, whereas, the history of Action Pl ans is generally one where the early participants receive the benefits and thes e benefits continue to accrue at the expense of stakeholders who come to the program later.
90 Appendix G (Continued) It seems relatively adequate, though too mu ch power was given to the fertilizer industry. My gut feeling is that there were large numbers of unmobilized stakeholders not included making it more likely that mob ilized stakeholders participated. Statement 6. This was probably more due to the efforts of the agriculture community than anything else. This is the result of misi nformation and the inab ility to engage all parties in the process. There are some groups that believe that they were not heard during the process and that they were ignore d. This has resulted in a lack of trust and until that trust is restored a solution will be difficult to achieve. It is unlikely that an Action Plan wo uld have been completed without the concessions made to those industries. If this happened there was justification in the abbreviated examination of all nutrient sources related to agricultureU nfortunately, the recommendations for reduction of fertilizer was presente d without qualification. Consequently, producers knew they would be negatively a ffected if they maintained the crop and livestock systems that USDA currently supports. Producers need to know that commodity support policies will allow them to change systems. Consequently, the industries concerned about N-fertili zer reduction goal were representing a large number of producers. I have no doubt this lobbying group pl ayed a major role, however, given the range of options it was probably not a ppropriate to set a numeric target. I am confident agriculture and the ferti lizer industry sought to remove numerical goals for N change. But I am equally confident that regulatory agencies (government) collectively are not opposed to that either. Both groups expose themselves to risk by agreeing to details .In other words, game theory tells us best science numerical goals are not best from a human system risk assessment approach. The decision was promoted by one or two of the mid-western states and was significantly driven by the interests of those industries. Statement 7 The economic impacts appear small given that agricultural lands are generally overfertilized. The industry is nervous about the new scie nce which is also implicating P and that might have economic impacts, particular ly as the reassessment progresses. I think this plan is gigantic and th e devastation (or bene fits) it can cause is huge.
91 Appendix G (Continued) The economy of the small farm is more likely to be affected than the large agribusiness. The farm economy is driven more by world markets, subsidies, economic structure than how much fertilizer costs or it used. Reductions in N use may have some short term impacts on forcing some of the less efficient farmers and producers out of business. In the long term I think it may stimulate industry to improve its n itrogen use efficiency (through better timing and placement technologies) which we know is possible. In the long term with increasing oil and nitr ogen prices, improvements in nitrogen use efficiency may even have positive economic impacts. The least economically important so ils will be the ones taken out of production/put into wetlands, etc. the ne t impact is the economies of Iowa, Illinois and the rest of the upper Midwest will be hurt minimally-and even possibly helped. The Action Plan implementation is ba sed on incentives and voluntary action. US agriculture is already heav ily subsidized by the gove rnment and shifting those subsidies to conservation and away from production would surely compensate for any loss in income. There are also innovative state and private insurance programs being developed that shoul d reduce the risks to producers. Statement 8. This [conflict] is not a major problem s just a misunderstood condition. Part of the basin work has involved br ing them together to understand each others viewpoints and needs. The impact was probably small because the shrimp industry has not yet been substantially impacted by the hypoxic ar ea (ie. landings have not declined significantly). The Gulf shrimp industry su ffers many other more direct stresses at the moment. I dont see that there is a conflict between the fishing and agriculture/fertilizer industries. The fishers are not organized a nd crying out for justic e. The citizenry of the watershed from Minnesota to L ouisiana are the ones that are concerned about local and Gulf water quality. The st ate and federal water resource managers are also leaders in the desire to have fewer-nutrient related problems. Basic economic theory tells us that conf lict resulted in a better plan that has the maximum chances of success in an anthropomorphic watershed such as the Mississippi River. I will concede that on the surface this conflict resulted in lots of unhappy people who want to point their fi ngers at one another. Thats not the same as saying that conflict negatively impacted the Action Plan. The fertilizer industry in particular made a concerted effort to question the validity of the science linking N fertilizer s to N export by the MRSome of their nutrient budget work is extremely flaw ed, but helped their lobbying effort.
92 Appendix G (Continued) The conflict was more specifically between the American Farm Bureau/Fertilizer Industry and Environmental Groups repr esenting both the Gulf and Basin interests. Local producers (even local farm bureau agents) and fishers seem to have been caught in a bigger economic game among the larger organizations. There was no meaningful conf lict in the sense that the value of the crops in the Midwest swamps the value of the fishing industry. Statement 9. To date few specific actions have been implemented and therefore monitoring results are limited and almost non-existent. I believe all the states are behind the Acti on Plan efforts, and hence, there is little variation. Some states are in denial, some recognize that nutrient loads in their streams are too large and they need to reduce them to satisfy state interests. I dont see signs that any states are implementing changes that will put them at competitive disadvantage with their neighbors. States like Louisiana which have more to lose will embrace it. States that are unaffected will only do as much as federal dollars for that specific purpose will allow. There is significant variability in visibil ity of this issue among the 30 or so states in the basin. States havent uniformly accepted the results of the Action Plan, so there will be a lot of variation, which can stall action and progress. There will be tremendous variation in implementation as budgets, interpretation of programs, and honesty of reporting vary across the watershed. At this point there is such modest impl ementation that the va riations can not be very large. The data to support an an swer to this question are not readily available. Statement 10. There has been no coordinated budget for actions to address to hypoxia problem. So far, there has been much talk and not much action Several years were lost w ithout any action, particularly on the side of the federal budget initiative. In the past year, with the revival of the Task Force (primarily in response to a controversial science pa per from EPAs Region 4 Staff) this administration is providing helpfu l assistance to the effort. The Task Force Members have supporte d dialogue and have met a number of times during this administration; the Task Force is interested in showing results, and reducing the size of th e zone by implementing a number of actions supported by the Bush Administration, such as trading.
93 Appendix G (Continued) Leadership by federal agencies is res ponsible for much of the Task Forces progress toward the goal s of the action plan. The lack of financial support is a majo r hindrance to progre ss, not only for the Action Plan but also for filling in gaps and science needs. The Bush Administration has not done enough to reevaluate the CENR science assessments. They neglected the issue when the Bush Administration came into office, but did not overtly squelch it. Now they seem to be paying a little more attention, but not to the extent that they will meet the goals of the Action Plan, or even come close to meeting those goals. The Bush Administration re-a ctivated the Task Force after 1 year in office. This was doing well under the leadership of Ad m. Whitman, but has suffered in the wake of her resignation and new leadersh ip and constant turnover in higher administrative posts of EPA. Also the NOAA leadership sees this as an important issue, but there has been significant turnover further down in the offices there as well, and replacements do not see this as important as those involved in the development of the Assessment and Action Plan. The process requires a continual re-education of state and fe deral leaders. In additi on, budget battles and loss of discretionary funds under the Bush Administration has put the whole Action Plan in jeopardy in the funding of science, monitoring and implementation of nutrient management strategies. The Bush Administration has a very mixe d record on such environmental issues. While they have not totally withdrawn fr om them, as many in the environmental community first feared, it is not near ly as supportive as the previous administration. Statement 11. Because of the lack of action for nearly 3 years, the plan has had little effect Recent modeling indicates that the targets in the Plan may be insufficient to reduce the hypoxia area. Furthe r, the implementation of the Plan relies primarily upon voluntary efforts, and it is unclear how e ffective those will be in the future. It is not a topic of conversation or policy in Iowa until some national media rediscovers the Plan and then there is limited discussion. It is too soon to tell. Data are lacking first on how management action are being targeted based on the Action Plan and th e supporting scientific data, and second on the reductions in nutrient loads and hypoxia that result from those actions. Furthermore, as a result of natural pr ocessed, response to management actions may not be seen in environmental data for a decade. Effectiveness can only be as good as implemen tationso the jury is still out.
94 Appendix G (Continued) Nobody knows for sure how the reductions in fertilizer would a ffect the size of the hypoxia zone. Nobody has done an ex-ant e benefit-cost analysis of the situation and nobody has done an ex-ant e biological, environmental and ecosystem analysis. The present Action Plan is based on flawed science. Voluntary, incentive based actions will work only to a point. As it stands today, not much attention is being paid to it. If it had some regulatory teeth it would be more effective. Relying on an entirely voluntary acti on with little government support, the Action Plan is doomed to fail... we should at least recognize the effort to attempt to make an Action Plan. Perhaps the first step can pave the way for a policy with some potential. The Action Plan is a solid document, but it was not an implementation Plan. The Task Force was supposed to develop subbasin strategy teams to draft specific implementation plans, and that has been very slow to develop. Until there is a significant pressure and a Framework from the Task Force to development of these teams and plans, littl e progress will take place. An important motivator for implementation of the incentive-based, volunt ary plan was the pot ential threat of EPA regulation. That incen tive appears to be gone. The action plan by itself cannot be effective. It provides some good guidelines for action, but a willingness to act is required. Statement 12. I have read the recommendations and assisted in EPA response. I have been involved in the process of pr oviding material to CEQ to assist in the development of the Presidents resp onse to the Commissions report. I was on the Task Force for USDA. A nything I saw in there is general enough that at this point in time, and non-sp ecific enough, that I dont think you can comment on the specifics b ecause I dont think there we re a heck of a lot of specifics in there. Although Im familiar with many of these recommendations, I am not sure of the feasibility of costs of many. Most of the recommendations, though, ar e of the develop a policy and set goals variety, rather than concrete suggestions. I know some of the committee members, have read portions of the report, and appreciate the citation of the causes and c onsequences of the dead zone in this report. They rely heavily on the Pew Ocean Commission Report, and I helped draft those recommendations. I was a member of the Science Advisory Panel to the Committee.
95 Appendix G (Continued) Statement 13 Unless Congress takes action and enact s the recommendations of the Ocean Commissions Report the Action Plan w ill be the blue print that will be followed. Because the difficulty of increasing the requirement on non-point sources, the potential for much change is low. Under current law, if you are talking about hypoxia I think nearly 0. And the reason for that is because you are talking about something that is whatever is probably coming from non-poi nt and you dont have a provision in the CWA that allows for regulation of non-point sources These recommendations are so extremely broad and extensive, and will require both significant new resources and a coordination of terre strial and coastal water quality goals and the strategies to achieve them. There is potential, but until States and other stakeholders buy into the overall goals and implementation plans, there will be wide differences in implementation and enforcement. Funding could certainly help. The potential is large, if the scien ce is corrected. I dont know what the probability of success is. There is a strong push to develop legisl ation to take care of the more obvious, single agency issues. Where multiple agencies need to work together to implement recommendations, the ability wi ll be determined by whatever structure is eventually developed for a federal-level ocean committee, cabinet level, post, etc The recommendations are so reasonable I think there is a good chance they will be carried out. As a philosopher and historian with a long-tern view I would say . As a scientist seeking improvement now I would say . As a stak eholder with mixed environmental and economic goals, I would say 8. So my average answer is . Unfortunately, the broad political impact on the Commission has not been great. So far the only major impact I am aware of is that NOAAs budget has gotten a boost this year. Neither the Pew Report nor the Ocean Commissions Report did what might have been hoped. There area several laws, regulations, programs and plans on the books dealing with non-point source pollutions. If this was an easy problem, it would already have been addressed and solved. The Commission report will help bring more attention to the issue, but that alone will not solve the problem. I do not see the political will to do much at this point. A critical issue is the willingness to commit to high quality long term monitoring of water quality so we have a better record on which to make future recommendations on which to base future actions.