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Some pollutants creating Gulf dead zone start in Kentucky

About 5 percent to 10 percent of the pollutants suffocating aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico starts in Kentucky, according to a study being discussed at a conference on the Kentucky River watershed.

Jon Devine, an attorney with the environmental organization Natural Resources Defense Council, was the lead author of the report.

Devine argues that two Supreme Court decisions in the past several years, and the way they have been interpreted by the Bush administration's Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers, have lessened the protections of the Clean Water Act. That, he says, exacerbated the dead zone problem by making it easier to pollute or destroy small streams and wetlands, which remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

Most nitrogen gets into waterways from fertilizer used to grow corn or soybeans. Most phosphorus comes from livestock manure. When the nutrients reach the gulf, they form large algae blooms that die off, depleting the water of oxygen.

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