This week AAI joined a consortium of over forty associations and businesses by signing a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson in support of Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC) rule for Florida and withdraw the rule entitled “Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters.”
On February 16, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation, passed unanimously by the Legislature and approved by the Florida Environmental Regulations Commission (ERC), that would ensure the EPA does not overstep its authority and implement federal numeric nutrient criteria in the state. The legislation directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to submit their own Numeric Nutrient Criteria rules to EPA for approval.
“Our rules provide a clear process for identifying waters impaired by nutrients, preventing harmful discharges and establishing necessary reductions. They provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy, and avoid unnecessary costs for Florida’s households and businesses,” said FDEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard in response to Gov. Scott signing the legislation. “We are pleased that we will now be able to submit our widely supported rules for final EPA approval. It’s important to start addressing our nutrient challenges, and we look forward to getting these rules on the books and implemented as soon as possible,” added Vinyard.
In addition to the state legislation, on February 15, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter to Administrator Jackson in support of the FDEP rule and urged the Administrator “to promptly review and approve” the Florida rule. On February 16, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a companion bill to the “State Waters Partnership Act of 2012” (H.R. 3856) filed by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) that “would force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt Florida’s science-based numeric nutrient criteria on water quality regulation.”
As stated in the letter, EPA has acknowledged that states must take the lead in addressing nutrients. AAI and the other signees agree with this and believe that states are best suited to deal with issues related to their unique landscapes and climates.