In a piece of legislation filed Tuesday, U. S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, aims to severely limit funding to the EPA to enforce the water-quality criteria it has set for Florida. The amendment, which will be tacked onto the end of a must-pass appropriations bill, reads:

Amendment No. 13—Rep. Rooney (R-FL): The amendment would prohibit funds made available by this Act from being used to implement, administer, or enforce the rule entitled “Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters” published in the Federal Register by the Environmental Protection Agency (75 Fed. Reg. 75762 et seq.)

If passed, the Amendment would prohibit the EPA from implementing its water quality standards in the state of Florida. The standards were put into place as the result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of several leading environmental organizations, including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, The St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club, who argued that current standards in the state weren’t enough, as waterways are continually inundated with toxic algal blooms and fish kills.

The Conservancy recently released a study on Florida waterways, which found that at least 97 percent of Florida’s bays and estuaries were “impaired.”

The Conservancy’s president, Andrew McElwaine, expressed concern with the amendment in a press release earlier today: “We are stunned that he would file legislation to prevent clean up of his own District’s rivers and streams.  Fundamentally, his message to the waterways is ‘Drop Dead.’”

The EPA has been on the defensive since it began drafting the standards, which are currently the basis for several lawsuits, including one filed by Adam Putnam, Pam Bondi, Charles Bronson and Bill McCollum. Rooney announced his endorsement of that lawsuit in early December.

The environmental groups involved continue to defend Florida waterways and say they will not go down without a fight.

“Congressman Rooney is running the football into his own team’s end zone,” said McElwaine.  “We need to tackle his amendment and soon.”

Rooney received at least $37,050 in individual and PAC group campaign donations from Florida Power & Light and $15,600 in individual contributions from those associated with Florida Crystals, both of which are industries likely to be negatively affected by the EPA’s criteria.

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