To read about our year-end Best of The Florida Independent series, click here. For complete coverage, click here.

The story:

In November 2010, The Florida Independent’s Virginia Chamlee reported on internal emails she obtained that revealed that officials in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection knew that the cost estimates it was using to argue against new EPA water quality rules were artificially inflated and, in some instances, mathematically incorrect.

The emails showed officials questioning the validity of the high cost estimates, which were drafted by utilities and other polluters, but were nonetheless being promulgated by the state department. Some officials noted that the estimates factored in a number of industrial facilities that would not actually be affected by the EPA regulations, and one simply observed: “Some of their math is wrong.”

The impact:

After Chamlee’s story posted, the St. Johns Riverkeeper — one of the key environmental groups engaged in the water quality fight — filed a scathing letter with the Jacksonville Waterways Commission, the agency that coordinates and advises governments on policies affecting the St. Johns River and all tidal waters in Duval County. In its complaint, the Riverkeeper cited Chamlee’s reporting as proof of what it had long suspected: That the state “significantly overestimates” the cost of regulation and that the estimates were not to be trusted.

The Riverkeeper’s president added: “What I also find troubling is the fact that even after DEP staff determined the analysis of the costs was full of inaccuracies, including incorrect math, some DEP staff members continued to spread falsehoods about the potential costs.” He went on to press the Commission to support the EPA regulations, adding, “I urge you to read the [Florida Independent] article in its entirety through the enclosed link.”

In additional emails, Chamlee has found messages from EPA opponents fretting about the “significant use of this article by proponents of EPA’s rule proposal” as well as attempts by the Department of Environmental Protection to pacify the industry sources whose work it had now publicly questioned.

To read about our year-end Best of The Florida Independent series, click here. For complete coverage, click here.

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
Oil spill compensation
Read More

Q&A with Feinberg: Oil spill compensation chief admits mistakes and confronts new hurdles: News. Politics. Media

Kenneth Feinberg knew what he was in for. The independent administrator of BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund has put himself in charge of seemingly impossible situations before — as special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and as “pay czar” overseeing executive compensation at companies that got bailouts from the U.S. government. But, in an interview with The Washington Independent this week, Feinberg says there were some surprises this time around.