New Florida Officials Seek Delay on Nutrient Criteria Rule

Newly elected officials representing Florida sent a letter on Friday to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing their concerns about the federal agency's nutrient criteria rulemaking, which will impose substantial regulatory and economic consequences on state residents.

The letter is signed by Governor-elect Rick Scott; Attorney General-Elect Pam Bondi; Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services- Elect Adam Putnam; Congressmen-elect Richard B. Nugent (District 5),  David Rivera (District 25), Dennis A. Ross (District 12), Steve Southerland (District 2), and Daniel Webster (District 8).

The letter states:

The rule for rivers, streams and lakes is scheduled to be finalized on November 14, 2010, and we request a delay so that we have time to fully analyze the rule and its affect on Florida.

We are very concerned about the cost of this onerous regulation to Floridians. Businesses across Florida are struggling and our unemployment rate is nearly 12 percent. We each ran on the platform of fiscal responsibility and heard from numerous constituents about concerns of an overbearing federal government that’s placing burdensome regulations on Florida’s families and employers. According to a study done by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the EPA mandates set to be finalized this November 14th will impose capital costs of over $4 billion on municipal wastewater treatment utilities and over $17 billion on municipal stormwater utilities. The cost of these new mandates could impede our state’s economic recovery and increase the price of utilities, food and other necessities for Floridians.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has expressed significant concerns regarding the scientific validity of the numeric nutrient criteria the EPA is set to impose on Florida, even questioning whether the standards are attainable or will achieve environmental benefits. In April 2010, the EPA’s own Science Advisory Board joined the chorus of FDEP, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Florida Legislature and others in expressing serious concerns that the EPA’s methods for developing nutrient standards are scientifically flawed.

Therefore, we strongly urge you to delay implementation of the final rule for lakes and flowing waters. Florida is the first state to be subjected to such federal rules, and we must ensure that the science is sound and the benefits are worthy of the costs.