The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard.
A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act. In 2009, following what many have deemed years of stalling on the part of the state department, the EPA agreed to implement its criteria.
Industry leaders and lawmakers have blasted the EPA’s mandate, arguing that the state of Florida should implement its own standards, without federal intervention. The state did have its chance, however: As early as 1998, the EPA told the state to develop its own standards.
Fast-forward to 2011, and the state is finally developing its own criteria — with the approval of the EPA.
A recent St. Petersburg Times editorial accused the EPA of rewarding Florida “for dragging its feet on cleaning up dirty waters,” a sentiment shared by environmentalists who have championed tougher water standards in the state. Not so, says the EPA’s Keyes Fleming, in a response to the editorial published today.
“The Clean Water Act envisions — and the EPA agrees — that states should have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters, allowing them to innovate and respond to local water quality needs,” she writes. “These standards must meet the requirements of the act, but they need not be identical to standards the EPA would adopt on its own. The FDEP’s proposed standards, in our judgment, meet this test.”
According to Keyes Fleming, the Florida standards don’t mirror every aspect of the federal standards, but they come awfully close.
“The FDEP’s proposed criteria for estuaries are based on methodologies similar to what the EPA has been using in developing its own criteria,” she writes. “The FDEP’s numeric criteria for streams are very close to the EPA’s criteria but will be applied in combination with biological information. Although the EPA did not adopt this approach, we believe it is reasonable to factor in site-specific information.”
Florida currently relies on a narrative water quality standard, the wording of which (.pdf) has been criticized as too vague to be effective. The rule reads: ”In no case shall nutrient concentrations of a body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna.”
Stricter criteria would specifically govern the amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen present in state waterways, and should lessen the amount of fish kills and large-scale algal blooms across Florida.
Giffords shooting leads nation to introspection and political finger wagging
In the wake of the shooting in Arizona this weekend that critically injured Rep.
EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management
At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from
E-Verify Mandate Begins Today
The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm
EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.
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
EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria
The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards
EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’
All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of
EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some
EPA Chief Overruled Calif. Waiver, Too
The Washington Post reported in March that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was overruled by the White House in setting an ozone standard. Now, documents