Article courtesy of Ashley Lopez| April 3 2014 | WGCU NPR News| Shared as educational material
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new rule Thursday that withdraws federal water quality standards for Florida. This means polluters will now only have to follow Florida’s rules.
Environmental advocates have been fighting the state’s limits for nutrient pollution in court for years.
Groups like Earthjustice have argued the state’s criteria favors polluters over stricter water regulations. A spokesperson for the EPA said in a statement, however, that “there is no need for overlapping federal criteria.”
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection said in a statement the decision “paves the way for more protection of Florida’s waters.” The state agency also said Florida’s criteria are more comprehensive than the federal government’s.
However, David Guest, an attorney for Earthjustice who has been fighting Florida’ nutrient criteria, said the state’s rules are not good because industries were too involved when the state wrote the standards.
“This is not a good day for us and our hope is that we can get the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to re-instate federal rules and get this back on track,” he said.
Guest said Florida’s water quality needs stricter rules. He said increasing fish kills, toxic algae blooms, manatee and dolphin deaths, are all signs the state’s water is in trouble.
“In the face of that, the decision of the government is to abandon standard setting to try to stop it,” he said. “This is the worst face of bad government.”
Florida’s Agriculture Chief Adam Putnam said the decision will enable state officials to manage the state’s “unique and diverse waterways.”