Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Stuart, today commended the EPA for agreeing to an independent analysis of the cost of implementing a new set of water pollution standards.

The EPA’s cost estimates, between $135 and $206 million, are drastically lower than projections touted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which often claims that costs could reach into the tens of billions.

Rooney is one of a large group of politicians and industry representatives staunchly opposed to the EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria, a set of water pollution rules that would stave off toxic slime and fish kills in Florida waterways.

In February, Rooney introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the EPA from enforcing the criteria entirely. (A companion amendment was introduced in the Senate by Marco Rubio.) And in late March, Rooney and Rubio teamed up in an op-ed published on TCPalm.com, defending their stance that the numeric nutrient standards will result in high costs and job losses. The two also falsely asserted that the nutrient criteria were the result of regulatory efforts by the Obama Administration, when they were in fact one of the EPA’s last acts under George W. Bush.

In a Monday press release, Rooney said that the agency’s announcement that its cost analysis would undergo an independent review is “a good first step,” but he still hopes for more.

“While we still await an answer to our request of the EPA to conduct an independent review of the science behind the rule, we are grateful to Administrator Lisa Jackson for her agreement to review the overall cost to the state of Florida,” said Rooney. “In these difficult economic times, when unemployment is still above 10 percent in our state, we have to weigh the costs of any new mandate very carefully. The decision by the EPA to review the costs with an independent audit is a good first step.”

The EPA has long maintained that the criteria are founded on the “best available science,” and are the result of months of independent, peer reviews and public comments.

In his press release, Rooney said he felt that an independent review of the EPA’s cost analysis would lead to a better end product, not only because of the amendments offered by he and Rubio, “but also because of Senator Nelson’s efforts and the support of 21 of 25 members of the Florida Congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats.”

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