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EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’

In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. #

Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work. Jackson’s comments came during a March 11 committee hearing on a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Though Jackson didn’t address the permitting issue, she specifically addressed other problems plaguing the agency, one of which is specific to Florida. #

The implementation of numeric nutrient criteria have been steeped in controversy for months. #

Those who support the criteria argue that Florida needs stricter standards to rid waterways of algal blooms brought on by excessive nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. Others says the nutrient criteria would be too costly. #

The opposition has not been contained to Florida. #

In February, a coalition of agriculture and industry associations sent a letter to members of the Senate and House, urging them to stop the EPA from implementing the criteria altogether. The letter was signed by 68 companies from across the U.S., including Koch Fertilizer and the American Farm Bureau Federation, who voiced concerns with the cost estimates (which have frequently been overblown): “The size of these costs for Florida alone is reason enough to justify this action, but when you consider the fact that 49 other states could be subjected to similar scientifically unsound criteria, it is all the more pressing that the EPA revisits these standards.” #

Jackson shot down those claims during Friday’s hearing: #

Again, let me be clear: EPA is not working on any federal numeric nutrient limits. We will soon be releasing a framework memo to our regional offices that makes it clear that addressing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution – which is a major problem – is best addressed by the states, through numerous tools, including proven conservation practices. #

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