In December 2009, several high-profile Florida representatives (including Senate candidate Kendrick Meek) wrote (.pdf) to the EPA to urge the agency to consider the economic impacts of implementing a set of numeric nutrient criteria that would strictly govern the levels of waste allowed to be dumped in Florida waters. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Tallahassee, currently locked in a difficult reelection campaign against Republican Steve Southerland, was one of the heavy-hitters to sign the letter and has since fought hard for deregulation.
Boyd has since come under scrutiny for his attempts to introduce a rider that would eliminate funding for the EPA, essentially killing the nutrient criteria before they could be implemented.
More than $10,000 of Boyd’s campaign contributions have come from Florida Citrus Mutual, a group that has come out strongly against the criteria. In fact, the industry cooperative’s website contains a section devoted entirely to the issue, with PDFs laying out what it deems to be the “economic impacts” associated with the criteria.
Two other large donors to Boyd’s campaign were the American Cattleman Beef Association and Florida Crystal Sugar, both notorious foes of Florida’s ecology and wetlands.
Boyd also has a seemingly close relationship with former Florida Department of Environmental Protection head Mike Sole, whom he met with in October 2008 to discuss (.pdf) a water issue and again in May to discuss the impacts associated with the gulf oil spill. Sole led the department, tasked with drafting a stricter set of nutrient criteria for several years, but left just months ago to take up a lobbying gig with utilities giant Florida Power & Light.
We called Rep. Boyd’s office for further information on his relationship with the groups mentioned above but received no response.
With part of the nutrient criteria slated to take effect next month, industry execs and politicians alike have been fighting tooth and nail for further delays. Recent polling numbers have shown the race between Boyd and his opponent Steve Southerland to be a runaway; with Boyd trailing by large numbers.