Governor, Legislature Address Bipartisan Concerns over EPA Overreach
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott and both houses of the Legislature have coalesced to pass Floridas own water quality standards in an attempt to replace the controversial U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that were set to take effect on March 6, 2012.
Governor Scott signed House Bill 7051 last Thursday after it passed the House 118-0 and the Senate 38-0. The next day, the EPA postponed the implementation of its mandated pollution criteria for an additional 90 days.
HB 7051 exempts specified rules from legislative ratification and submits Floridas own water quality standards through the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) directly to the federal EPA.
The states rules are scientifically sound, protect the environment, and avoid unnecessary costs for Floridas households and business. Once approved by the EPA, they will further enhance the States nationally recognized nutrient control programs, said Scott.
According to the EPA, Floridas waterways are impaired with excess nitrogen and phosphorus, causing an overgrowth of algae. While studies show this to be true, determining the optimal level of nutrient criteria has proved to be contentious.
A recent study by the University of Floridas College of Agriculture and Life Sciences maintains that nitrates and phosphates occur naturally in many of Floridas lakes, springs, and rivers. But EPA administrator Lisa Jackson claims water pollution in Florida has increased 90 percent since she assumed control of the 18,000 person bureaucracy just three years ago.
The EPA also asserts that the highest allowable standard for nitrates will be 1.9 parts per million (ppm), yet the safe drinking water standard for nitrates is 10 ppm. Such disparities have caused alarm among many Florida businesses and communities which see the federal regulations as arbitrary, expensive, and intentionally difficult to meet.
At a time when the federal government is expanding its influence over the states as never before, critics and concerned residents are fretting about whether these regulations are really about safe water or de facto control over Floridas most precious resource.
No one knows Floridas water better than Floridians, and these rules will allow us to effectively protect water quality in our state, said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr.
DEPs press secretary also stated that the agency is committed to moving forward with its own water quality standards by submitting them to the EPA this week, despite a recent federal judges ruling in favor of the EPA.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have expressed concerns, through bipartisan letters commenting on proposed regulations and through introduced legislation that would delay, limit, or prevent certain EPA actions.
What has been true for the Congress has proven true for the state of Florida. All eyes are now on the EPA as it decides how to proceed during the 90 day implementation extension.