In a Monday court filing, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and a slew of industry representatives filed their opposition to EPA-mandated water pollution standards for the state. Arguing that “federal intervention was and remains unnecessary,” they ask the court to invalidate the January 2009 determination that required that the standards be implemented.
That determination followed litigation brought on by Florida environmental groups that alleged the state wasn’t meeting the requirements of the Clean Water Act. Pollution brought on by failing septic tanks, home fertilizers, utility companies and agricultural interests often leads to large-scale algal blooms and fish kills — occurrences that wouldn’t be so frequent, say some, if Florida had stricter water pollution rules.
The EPA’s 2009 decision to force Florida to implement the so-called “numeric nutrient criteria” was not without controversy. Both Putnam and Bondi have argued, much like affected industries do, that the standards would be nearly impossible to meet and extremely costly. Environmentalists have argued that the new rules might not be strict enough.
In Monday’s filing, Putnam and Bondi argue that the EPA “failed to provide a record to support” its 2009 decision, “manufactured the basis for federal intervention” and “made the determination to settle a lawsuit.”
“EPA manufactured a basis for the significant shift in its policy toward Florida in order to justify making the … determination,” reads the filing. “The agency exaggerated the impact and threat of nutrients generally, and the situation in Florida specifically.”
The filing is signed by attorneys for the State of Florida, White Springs Agricultural Chemicals, the Florida Pulp and Paper Association and other industry agencies.
The EPA has committed to propose water quality standards for Florida’s estuarine coastal, and southern inland flowing waters by Nov. 14, and to establish final standards by Aug. 15, 2012, unless the state Department of Environmental Protection comes up with its own set of rules (which must then be approved by the EPA).