Here is even more information on the status of the Earth Justice lawsuits. There is no end to their demands. They will not be satisfied with anything less than total federal control of our state, even though the EPA has already reviewed the state plan to address nutrients and found it satisfactory. It’s difficult to understand what the real intent is of these environmental groups. This editor reviewed much of the research, pages of reviews of the research, and quite frankly, I am confounded as to the nature of their continuing challenge. At this point, Earth Justice sincerely resembles the Shakespearian definition of a tempest in a teapot.
From “The Florida Current” published on: 9/23/13
Federal court hearing on water rules set for Tuesday as Putnam calls for ‘victory lap’
By Bruce Ritchie, 09/23/2013 – 04:04 PM
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says Floridians should enjoy a “victory lap” on the issue of federal water quality, but an attorney representing environmental groups suggests the state has nothing to celebrate.
U.S. District Judge Robert H. Hinkle on Tuesday is scheduled to consider a request by environmental groups asking him to enforce a 2009 court agreement requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set phosphorus and nitrogen limits in Florida waterways.
Environmentalists have been battling industry groups and state officials since the court agreement with federal officials was signed four years ago. However, federal officials earlier this year reached an agreement with the state that calls for Florida officials to set those pollution limits under a plan favored by industry groups.
“Before we get into the challenges we face moving forward I want to start with a victory lap that everybody in this room deserves to participate in,” Putnam told the Florida Water Forum on Friday in Orlando before receiving applause. “And that’s the win on numeric nutrient criteria.”
On June 27, the EPA filed a motion in federal court asking Hinkle to modify the 2009 agreement requiring the federal agency to set nitrogen and phosphorus limits for Florida waterways. The EPA said it is now backing Florida’s plan to establish limits called numeric nutrient criteria and that federal limits are not necessary or warranted under federal law.
In a response Monday to Putnam’s comments, Earthjustice attorney David Guest said EPA is not complying with the 2009 consent decree, which his firm will be asking the court to enforce on Tuesday.
“EPA simply caved to the polluting industries in the state in proposing to get out of complying with large fractions of their obligations under it,” Guest said. “A substantial part of the state rule that EPA approved does not comport with the consent decree at all.”
An EPA spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. A DEP spokesman said EPA conducted a detailed review of the state’s rules and found them to be consistent with the federal Clean Water Act.
Putnam said the issue shows how federal agencies “are looking for creative ways to impose their view on the world without going through the process that all of us learned about in the eighth grade about how a bill is supposed to become law.”
But Guest said the EPA must set pollution limits because states have shown they are unable to do so because of the influence of polluting industries.
He said the ecological collapse at Indian River Lagoon and manatee and dolphin deaths point out the problems with state regulations.
“That is the fruit of the state regulatory system,” Guest said. “That is what happens when you let the state regulate. This argument is a continuation of that. It comes at a good time the real effects of state regulation are clear in those places.”
Drew Bartlett, deputy secretary at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, told the water forum on Friday that if all goes well in court this week that may be the last presentation on water quality participants will have to endure.
He said the federal rules were more costly than the state rules and failed to recognize restoration efforts already underway. The department has developed limits for estuaries across the state in advance of a Sept. 30 deadline as provided in a plan with EPA approved in SB 1808 in 2013.
“In the department’s opinion, they (EPA officials) can act on that package and exit the state,” Bartlett said.
A Note From The Sludge Report
Not satisfied with the EPA apparent approval of the FDEP’s Wekiva Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), environmental groups have filed yet another lawsuit to overturn the state plan, and are gathering signatures to force the state to set aside $500 million every year for conservation land purchases. Read our letter to the editor of the Apopka Chief, published August 23rd. Maybe, just maybe we have uncovered the real reason for all the lawsuits!