The announcement of a lawsuit against the EPA is eliciting cries of outrage from environmentalists across the state.
Attorney General Bill McCollum, his successor Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and Commissioner-elect Bill Putnam announced their decision to file suit against the EPA for enforcing a set of water quality standards they say “are not not based on scientifically sound methodology, and were adopted in an arbitrary and capricious manner just to settle a lawsuit.”
The nutrient criteria were the result of a lawsuit against the EPA filed by the environmental law firm Earthjustice, alleging that the lack of nutrient standards governing Florida waterways was in violation of the Clean Water Act. Earthjustice represented several state environmental agencies in the case, including the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.
David Guest, attorney for Earthjustice, released a statement following yesterday’s announcement of the suit against the EPA. Calling the lawsuit a “waste of taxpayer dollars,” Guest said that the state was using tax dollars to side with polluters rather than the environment:
We are talking about protecting our drinking water from toxic algae. It’s a public health threat. Finally, after years [of] delay, the Environmental Protection Agency is setting modern standards to keep poorly treated sewage, fertilizer, and animal waste out of public waters. The state should not be fighting against clean water.
Floridians know that keeping our waters clean is essential for public health and for our tourism-based economy. The public clearly supports modernizing our pollution limits to keep our waters clean. EPA received 22,000 public comments on the new limits, and 20,000 of those comments were in support of the standards.
Guest said that claims of the criteria’s high costs were mere scare tactics meant to mask the true logic behind the lawsuit: “Polluters have resorted to scaring people with bogus sky-high cost predictions. In fact, using data from the state and other sources, the EPA pegs the annual cost to comply with the standards at between $135 million and $206 million, or about $3 to $6 per household per month. That’s a reasonable price for clean water.”