EPA Water Deadline Looming: Rick Scott Asks for Delay
Around the State
With a little more than seven weeks until he takes office, Gov.-elect Rick Scott is getting involved in the fight over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's numeric nutrient standards set to take effect Sunday.
The EPA revved up the push for its new freshwater federal nutrient standards in response to a lawsuit by EarthJustice, which claimed the EPA failed to meet Clean Water Act requirements. In September, the EPA agreed to postpone by one month the Oct. 15 implementation deadline of its new rules, which are only being mandated on the state of Florida.
The letter from Scott's office, also signed by newly elected Cabinet officials Pam Bondi and Adam Putnam, asks EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to give the state more time to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of the standards.
"We are concerned that the EPA’s unprecedented nutrient criteria rule-making will impose substantial regulatory and economic consequences on Floridians," reads the letter.
It cites a study by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection showing the new mandates will cost an estimated $4 billion on municipal wastewater treatment utilities and more than $17 billion on municipal stormwater utilities. Dee Ann Miller of the DEP says those estimated costs are based on "a hypothetical," because the final criteria have not been made available.
Scott says the economic impact would be too great for Florida.
"We are very concerned about the cost of this onerous regulation to Floridians," the letter reads. "Businesses across Florida are struggling and our unemployment rate is nearly 12 percent. We each ran on the platform of fiscal responsibility and heard from numerous constituents about concerns of an overbearing federal government that’s placing burdensome regulations on Florida’s families and employers.
"The cost of these new mandates could impede our state’s economic recovery and increase the price of utilities, food and other necessities for Floridians."
While some reports claim that current nutrient overloads have created plumes of algae that have killed fish and caused rashes for swimmers, the DEP says the new standards take it to the other extreme and haven't been scientifically proven to be effective.
"The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has expressed significant concerns regarding the scientific validity of the numeric nutrient criteria the EPA is set to impose on Florida, even questioning whether the standards are attainable or will achieve environmental benefits," reads the letter.
Calls to Jackson's office have not been returned, and it is unclear whether she will allow another delay.
Both of Florida's U.S. senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican George LeMieux, have supported delays to EPA's numeric nutrient rules.
Lane Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 561-247-1063.