The St. Petersburg Times ran a strongly worded editorial on Sunday on nutrient pollution and new standards to protect Florida waters. Only three days before they were finalized, several Florida officials expressed their distaste with a set of numeric nutrient criteria that would limit industries’ freedom to release effluent into freshwaters in the state. Rick Scott and Pam Bondi were among those who sent a letter to the EPA seeking further delays in implementing the criteria.
From the Times:
Rick Scott, Pam Bondi and the rest of Florida’s newly elected Republican leadership teamed up the other day for a shameful cause — dirtier streams, lakes and drinking water. The pair joined a host of incoming Republican officeholders to blast the new clean water rules announced this month by the Environmental Protection Agency. These leaders need to get their facts — and their priorities — straight. Polluted water endangers public health, threatens the golden geese of property values and tourism and destroys the very environment that attracts residents here. The state should welcome the new standards and work with polluters to clean up the public’s waterways.
The piece acknowledges that many industry groups have made outlandish claims regarding the costs associated with the standards, and makes a resounding point that nutrient criteria are essential for the health of the state’s ecology:
The public’s waterways should no longer be a cheap dumping ground for fertilizer, chemicals, livestock manure, stormwater runoff and septic tanks. Nutrient pollution causes harmful algae blooms, which can kill fish, cause infections, rashes and respiratory problems among swimmers and beach goers and cause huge financial losses in tourism and property values. The state acknowledged in 2008 that nutrient pollution tainted 1,000 miles of rivers, 350,000 acres of lakes and 900 square miles of estuaries in Florida. [Emphasis added.]