Surprise! EPA Will Impose Nutrient Criteria on Remaining Florida Waterways
Around the State
Late Friday the EPA announced it will satisfy its lengthy court battle with Florida environmentalists not just by approving the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's rules for lakes, streams, springs and estuaries, but also by issuing its own rules on miles of Florida rivers not covered by the state DEP's new anti-pollution criteria.
EPA Regional Water Protection Director Jim Giattina told the Associated Press, "We're approving Florida's rules and we're proposing numbers that will fill the gap that may exist in Florida's rules." He said more changes might be in the offing after discussions with the state.
The EPA's re-involvement in Florida water issues at this point was all news to the state DEP, which has pledged to work with EPA to “craft solutions that will allow the state to assume all nutrient criteria rulemaking in Florida.”
David Guest, the lawyer who represents the environmental groups, claims the EPA's just-announced rules will apply to about 82,000 of 100,000 miles of waterways. Meanwhile, the state DEP anti-pollution criteria will cover just the remaining 18,000, he said.
Opponents of the EPA's oppressively costly, untested criteria for fixing the pollution of Florida waters included agriculture, employers, local government and utilities. All put a high priority on clean water but they believed Florida -- not the federal government -- knows what's best for Florida and how to accomplish it.
The following expressions since the Friday announcement have been issued by Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation and the Florida League of Cities -- all of whom have been part of the coalition of Florida stakeholders including agriculture, employers, local governments, utilities, unions and others:
From Associated Industries of Florida President and CEO Tom Feeney:
"Florida has long been a leader in state water quality programs. Associated Industries of Florida is pleased by the EPA's validation of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (FDEP) water quality standards, which reflect the FDEP's years of hard work and research on numeric nutrient criteria. The EPA's stamp of approval on the Florida science backing the standards developed by FDEP is encouraging as the state will need to continue to work with the agency on new proposed regulations impacting our waterways."
From Florida Farm Bureau Federation President John Hoblick:
“Florida Farm Bureau Federation has been highly encouraged with the positive actions of FDEP to develop a rule that balances substantive water quality efforts with economic stability. EPA’s recent action recognizes that FDEP’s scientific methodology best addresses the state’s water quality, but Farm Bureau is concerned that EPA decided to impose federal rules on water bodies that lack both the study and science to force such limits. Agriculture has long been an advocate for water quality by incorporating scientifically based Best Management Practices (BMPs) into their farm operations."
From Florida League of Cities Legislative Director Scott Dudley:
"On behalf of Florida's 410 cities I would like to thank the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for its efforts to develop responsible and attainable water quality goals for Florida's waters. These water quality standards will both protect Florida's waters and avoid billions of dollars in costs born by Florida's cities, residents, and businesses that would have resulted from complete passage of the federal rule. After a lengthy legal battle it is clear that the state of Florida is best equipped to protect its water quality."
In response to the federal government's stringent nutrient criteria solution, Florida DEP came up with a proposal to set numerical limits on nutrients that come from pollutants such as fertilizer, animal waste and, sewage. Those are the things that proliferate toxic, slimy algae blooms, kill fish and make people sick. After more than a year, the EPA has agreed that the state proposal is sound and workable.
The groups that sued the EPA for not enforcing clean-water standards included the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club.
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