A federal appeals court yesterday struck down an attempt by state utility interests to do away with the EPA’s proposed “numeric nutrient criteria,” which will set limits on pollution in Florida waterways.
The decision to implement the nutrient criteria came about as a result of litigation brought on by environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the St. Johns Riverkeeper, who alleged that Florida was in violation of the Clean Water Act since it did not have appropriate water pollution limits. (Florida currently relies on a narrative standard, which critics argue are too vague to be effective.)
The groups, represented by environmental law firm Earthjustice, won the case — but the industries that have long allowed their effluent to flow directly into rivers and lakes have since stood strong in their opposition to the criteria.
A challenge filed on behalf of the Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council (a group whose board is comprised of utility executives) and the South Florida Water Management District sought to appeal the consent decree mandating water pollution limits. The groups argued that the decree was “substantively and procedurally unreasonable and that the district court abused its discretion by approving the decree.”
A three-judge panel dismissed the appeal in a 3-1 ruling, with one judge writing that the appellants failed to demonstrate “a live case or controversy that would give [the] court jurisdiction over their case.”
“This pollution is preventable. Several courts have now ruled that Florida needs limits on this pollution to keep our water clean,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest in a press release.“The polluters have been using scare tactics, bogus science, underhanded political bullying, and campaign cash to try to get their way. Fortunately, the Clean Water Act is still a good law that protects ordinary citizens, and it prevailed today.”
Read the full ruling for yourself: