A hearing sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, on a set of federally mandated water pollution rules is taking place in Orlando today. But a look at the list of witnesses invited to speak at the hearing reveals a host of industry leaders, and only one environmental representative, from the EPA. In a new statement, Stearns says that’s because environmental groups didn’t ask to participate.
In a press release, environmental law firm Earthjustice had said Stearns was “shutting out the public” and “refusing to invite” environmental groups, making the hearing one-sided.
In a response to those allegations, Stearns has come forward with a statement that environmental groups weren’t included on the panel because they didn’t ask to be.
From Stearns’ office:
Although neither Earthjustice nor any other environmental group asked to testify at the field hearing in Orlando, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, asked the panel to invite David Guest, an attorney for Earthjustice, to testify. The Subcommittee is holding a hearing on the impact of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) numeric nutrient water standards on the Florida economy, job creation, and communities. Said Stearns, “While we were putting together this hearing, no environmental groups asked the majority or minority staffs if they could participate. In contrast to recent false statements, this hearing is open and upon learning after all the witnesses were invited that these groups wanted to offer testimony, I asked for the addition of a group from Florida.”