Q&A: Rachel Silverstein on the Threats to Our Waters

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“Coming off successful legal action protecting our clean-water economy, Rachel Silverstein and the upstart environmental group Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper look to the future.”

Legal settlement a win for Miami and our bay

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“This settlement is a win for the environment and for local taxpayers, who are still on the hook for the Army Corps of Engineers’ mess. Our reefs and bay are ecological and aesthetic jewels, critical to our clean water economy and local culture. It’s a shame, and shameful, that we had to sue the federal government to get it to follow federal law.”

Miami Deep Dredge: Environmentalists Win Court Battle but Not War as Blasting Continues

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“Silverstein said that even bringing the Corps to the bargaining table was a victory.

“I’m proud and impressed that a tiny organization like us or the other plaintiffs can call on the Army Corps of Engineers, this behemoth of bureaucracy, and they have to appear down here and be held accountable,” she said, adding that the agreement was “an amazing outcome.”

NOAA Warns of "Rapid Deterioration" of Endangered Corals Due to Deep Dredge Sludge

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Nonetheless, the NOAA report is “a very big deal,” says Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, another environmental group against the dredge.

“This is confirmation of what we’ve been saying all along,” she says. “It’s bittersweet for us because it confirms that our reefs have really been devastated because of the project. That’s not easy to hear but hopefully it does spur the Corps to action to actually do something to help the corals before it’s too late.”

Feds say ‘nurseries’ could save Government Cut coral

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In the meantime, a lawsuit threatened by the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper environmental group and captain Dan Kipnis still looms. The group’s attorney, Jim Porter, said Wednesday they are keeping an eye on talks.

“We want give DEP and [NOAA] and the Corps every chance to get this worked out,” he said. “But if they’re unable to do so, then we’re prepared to go forward.”

Environmentalists renew criticism of Miami dredging

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“Our goal is not to stop the dredging but to ensure that the environment is protected and that everyone follows the rules set out when the project was started, and that’s not happening,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper.

“So far, it seems the agencies are focused on trying to remedy the damage that’s been caused rather than prevent future damage,” Silverstein said.

Environmentalists ready to sue over Miami port's deep dredge

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Environmentalists said on Thursday they are prepared to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after researchers found dredging to deepen the port of Miami is burying coral and could destroy the surrounding marine ecosystem for years to come.

“All we’re asking for is that they follow state and federal law and they’re simply not doing that,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a local environmental advocacy group.

Miami port dredging damaging sea life, state inspectors say

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“The warning follows a similar complaint last month from the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper watchdog group, which threatened to sue in September unless work is cleaned up…

Inspectors also discovered that large boulders placed in the channel to provide places for young coral to grow as part of a mitigation effort had crushed existing coral and sponges when they were dropped.

An artificial reef created to hold coral transplanted from the channel was dusted with a layer of sediment. Water had become so thick with silt and clay that it created “anoxic conditions” in which very little oxygen reached the bay bottom.”

Environmental Group Threatens To Sue Army Corps Of Engineers About Dredging Near Corals

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“It’s extremely unique to have these corals so close to an urban area like Miami,” says Silverstein. “They’re coastline protection that’s critical for the city, especially with all the flooding in Miami.”

Researchers Race to Save Coral in Miami

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‘“They were allowed to go out and see what was left over,” said Rachel Silverstein, the executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, which brought the original lawsuit to protect corals in Government Cut. “We realized that there is a lot still there. And we realized how much the permit was missing in terms of mitigation and how much reef will be destroyed by this dredging.”’

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