A slew of newly elected and current Florida government officials came out against the EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria, alleging that they would be both costly and ineffective. Now that the standards are finalized, many are now coming forward with statements touting the 15-month interim period before they go into effect.
Current Gov. Charlie Crist said he was “grateful” for the additional time, as would it allow the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to evaluate the “cost, effectiveness and best method for implementing” the criteria.
Gov.-elect Rick Scott, meanwhile, who recently signed a letter seeking further delays in implementing the standards, praised the EPA for its decision to allow for more time in assessing the now-finalized criteria: “I am pleased the EPA decided not to mandate new water quality restrictions on the state before we could fully assess the economic impact. As Governor, I will make it a priority to ensure that science, not politics, drives the protection of our state’s most precious natural resources.”
Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos took it a step further, saying that he was pleased that the standards wouldn’t take effect for 15 months, but that he would also continue to work toward getting rid of them entirely: “While we appreciate the delay, Florida will continue to fight these heavy-handed Washington, D.C. measures. Clearly, the Florida-only water standards will cost Floridians jobs and I will do everything I can to not just delay this unneeded federal intervention but permanently stop them from taking effect.”
In a press release yesterday, the EPA described the need for the additional 15 months: “These new standards will become effective 15 months from now, allowing cities, towns, businesses, other stakeholders and the state of Florida a full opportunity to review the standards and develop strategies for implementation while Florida continues to recover from the current economic crisis.”
The next 15 months are crucial for those who find that the standards are inappropriate for particular waterbodies that might benefit more from site-specific alternative rules. According to the EPA press release, “Governments or other stakeholders can seek special consideration in cases where the state and local communities have extensively assessed water bodies and effective measures are in place to reduce nutrient pollution.”