President Barack Obama (Pic by The White House, via Flickr)

A petition protesting the EPA’s “numeric nutrient criteria,” a set of stringent water pollution standards specific to the state of Florida, has been sent to President Barack Obama, in an attempt to urge him to “reign in the EPA’s power grab and return water quality regulation to state government.” The petition was backed largely by the Florida Farm Bureau, a group whose members could be hit with costly upgrades or fines because of the new rules.

The Farm Bureau worked with “a coalition of municipalities, regulated industries and other agricultural associations” to gather at least 5,000 signatures for the petition, which reads:

I am a registered voter in Florida and concerned about the higher costs associated with the EPA’s numeric nutrient criteria rule. Several studies put the cost of this rule in the billions. If implemented, it will have grave consequences on job creation and economic growth in Florida. I am signing this petition to urge President Obama to protect Florida’s economy and spur job growth in the state by intervening in the EPA’s actions and allowing the State of Florida to manage its water quality regulations.

In a statement released today, a representative for Associated Industries of Florida, a lobbying group that represents many of Florida’s biggest industries, said his organization stands behind the petition.

“These excessive requirements will cost billions of dollars to city and county governments, as well as the business community,” said Associated Industries Vice President of Governmental Affairs Jose Gonzalez. “Florida’s families will face an average increase of $700 in their annual water costs as a result. We cannot afford to tack on these additional costs at any point, much less during the country’s current economic turmoil. Any costs added to Florida’s businesses will certainly mean fewer available jobs in a time when Florida’s unemployment figures are still in the double digits.”

Exactly how much the criteria could cost Floridians remains unknown; cost estimates vary widely. The $700 “annual water cost” number cited by Gonzalez has been used before — mostly by utilities that are staunchly opposed to the implementation of harsher water rules.

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