Don Quincey, president-elect of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, told the Florida House Select Committee on Water Policy on March 17 that the EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria are based on “bogus science” and “pie in the sky.”

Though the committee, which is chaired by state Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers, would seemingly be interested in cleaning up state waterways, it has been vocal about its opposition of the EPA’s criteria. Williams has been quoted as saying that Florida was “singled out” by the EPA, and that the criteria are unnecessary: “If any state should be hit with intrusive, invasive and indefensible water regulations, it shouldn’t be Florida.”

Environmentalists, and the EPA, disagree with Williams.

The state’s current nutrient standard is “narrative,” and only requires that “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna.” In addition to being extremely broad, the criteria is difficult to enforce and makes no mention of the Clean Water Act. The new standards would be stricter but would ensure that widespread algal blooms and fish kills that affect Florida businesses be kept to a minimum.

The Cattlemen’s Association, like the majority of agricultural organizations in the state, have come out swinging against the EPA and its criteria, touting overblown cost estimates and “bad science” as reasons to abandon them entirely. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association was one of a coalition of industries to pen a letter to Congress in February, requesting a halt to the implementation of the standards.

According to the Gulf Coast Business Review, Quincey recently told the committee that he believes the EPA’s criteria to be “bogus” and that his group wants more scientific evidence: “We want real scientific evidence where it needs to be. Where they have it today is pie in the sky.”

The criteria are currently caught up in lawsuits — dozens have sued to disallow the EPA from implementing the criteria — and pending legislation: Williams is seeking to block them in the legislature.

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