Governor to EPA: Water guidelines aren’t necessary here
Gov. Scott asks EPA to rescind federal water pollution control rules, saying the state already has guidelines in place that accomplish the same things...
Opponents of the federal requirement say the state is better equipped to decide how best to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which is intended to manage nitrogen and phosphorous pollution of lakes, rivers, streams and bays. They say the EPA standards will be costly to implement, don’t address specific conditions of local waterways and provide little biological benefit.
According to Scott’s office, the petition sent to the EPA details eight pollution control measures already in place Florida that mirror EPA recommendations for effective water pollution control.
The U.S. EPA released pollution standards for Florida waterways in December 2010 as part of a 2009 legal settlement with environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, who sued the agency for not enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida.
The EPA told all states in 1998 to set limits on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, and warned it would do it for them if no action was taken by 2004. But 2004 passed with no action. Hence the lawsuit.
The environmental group Earthjustice immediately criticized Scott’s petition, sent through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The group said the move protects polluters by rejecting a plan for preventing slimy algae outbreaks that kill fish and make Florida water unfit for boating and swimming.
The federal rules, the organization said, cut down on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution by encouraging better sewage treatment, more precise fertilizer application and better controls for manure at industrial agricultural sites.
Florida elected officials, though, including Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and leaders in the House are resisting what they consider federal meddling in state decisions.
Bondi filed a lawsuit challenging the standards earlier this year.
Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, who chairs the House’s Select Committee on Water Policy, filed HB 239, which orders the Florida DEP to ignore the EPA standards. The House passed the bill Thursday with a 90-27 vote. Twelve Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the measure.
Similar bills filed by Sens. Greg Evers, R-Crestview and Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, are stalled in Senate committees.
Janet Zink can be reached at email@example.com or 850-224-7263.