After coming under fire for lobbying to block EPA water quality standards and fueling a war of words with the St. Johns Riverkeeper in The Florida Times-Union, Clay County Councilman Mike Kelter is again blasting a set of water pollution standards he says are the result of “capricious and arbitrary lawsuits filed by environmental lobbyists.”
In a Dec. 22 letter to the editor in Clay Today, Kelter again had harsh words for the Riverkeeper’s Jimmy Orth, writing that he and Orth differ in their approaches to advocating clean water:
I don’t spend my days cruising the river in a boat. My days are spent with pipefitters, welders, masons, electricians. … Most of the men and women I work with would rather be on a boat enjoying the river, but the work they are doing is creating real reductions in nutrient pollution while putting groceries on their family dinner tables and helping them pay their taxes.
I don’t do lunch with attorneys between motions in lawsuits. I go to the Mom and Pop restaurants where Pop is flipping burgers and fretting about increasing food costs to his business, and where Mom is serving coffee to small family farmers who lament the increasing costs of maintaining crop yields and delivering Florida-grown food products to the restaurant for Pop to cook.
In his letter, Kelter touted the use of Florida’s Total Maximum Daily Load program, the system currently in place for measuring water pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus. The state’s leading environmentalists have long said that the Daily Load program is inefficient, arguing that it has failed to prevent widespread algal blooms and fish kills.
According to Kelter, these problems are a result of legal hang-ups. Kelter again mentioned the cost associated with implementing a stricter set of standards, citing extravagant estimates that have been disputed within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection:
When all of these improvements are completed, cities, businesses, and taxpayers will be up to their ears in hock for water quality improvements that meet the current TMDL. None of these improvements will meet the unrealistic, scientifically-unsound standards being proposed in EPA’s numeric nutrient rules which Mr. Orth supports. If Mr. Orth and Riverkeeper have their way, the cost of the Numeric Nutrient rules will become even more expensive.
Kelter ended his letter by writing that, although he normally doesn’t support lawsuits “as an effective way to clean up the government,” he does support a suit recently filed by Attorney General Bill McCollum, Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Bronson and Agriculture Commissioner-elect Putnam that seeks to do away with the EPA’s nutrient criteria.