Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Webster’s definition of harassment includes words like torment, pester, persecute, and “to trouble by repeated attacks.” This latest Earth Justice lawsuit filed on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John’s Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club is simply a exercise in harassment that diverts taxpayer money and FDEP’s human resources from accomplishing the very things these groups are suing about. Seriously folks, this perpetual lawsuit mentality is getting very tedious, and is an insult to all those state, county and municipal representatives and homeowners with septic systems who have been earnestly participating in the nutrient reduction efforts of FDEP’s TMDL/BMAP process.

News from The Florida Current:

Environmental groups to challenge federal judge’s ruling allowing state water quality rules

Bruce Ritchie, 03/06/2014 – 05:22 PM

Environmental groups on Thursday filed a notice in federal court that they are appealing a federal judge’s order in January siding with Florida and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on their agreement in 2013 allowing the state to set pollution standards in waterways.

The appeal may prevent the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from moving forward with state rules approved by the federal court and the federal EPA, DEP spokesman Patrick Gillespie said.

The Legislature in 2013 passed SB 1808 ratifying an agreement between DEP and the federal EPA calling for the state to move forward in implementing rules once federal water quality standards were withdrawn.

The appeal on Thursday was filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John’s Riverkeeper and the Sierra Club.

Earthjustice attorney David Guest said the groups are challenging Florida’s “polluter-friendly” rules.

“The (federal) Clean Water Act is supposed to mean clean water,” Guest said. “That’s not happening here in Florida, and that’s why we’re going to court.”

“The evidence is all around us – dead manatees, dead dolphins, polluted drinking water and green slime breaking out on our springs, rivers, lakes and bays,” he said.

DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. said Thursday that he was “deeply disappointed” by the appeal, which he said likely will prevent the department from implementing the most comprehensive water quality standards in the nation.

“The department, along with Floridians, are very concerned about excess nutrients that are causing algal blooms found in many of our springs, lakes and estuaries,” he said. “I am confident that the appeals court will side with previous federal and state court recommendations and the state, federal and local scientists who have made it their life’s work to improve Florida’s water quality and quantity.”

On Thursday Guest told The Florida Current that the appeal does not prevent the state or federal EPA from taking action.

On Jan. 7, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said setting pollution limits for streams in Florida “had proven elusive” but DEP and the federal EPA now agree that a new approach meets the requirement of the federal Clean Water Act.

He said a 2009 consent decree requiring EPA to set those numeric nutrient criteria did not affect the rights of industry groups to challenge the outcome. And he said the requested change does not affect the same rights of environmental groups.

“Now, as then, the Clean Water Act depends in part on honest administrative enforcement of duly adopted standards,” Hinkle wrote. “At least as shown by this record, FDEP‘s new standards have been duly adopted.”