UPDATE: DEP wins, judge throws water poisons lawsuit out of court

Editor’s Note:  Florida’s Environmental Regulation Commission, July 26, lowered pollution criteria for 23 toxins allowed to be dumped in Florida waters, 18 of which are known carcinogens.  The new standards were developed by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.  Under the same new rule, DEP also set criteria for 39 new chemicals that previously had no limits. 

The new rules are in response to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, issued last year, based on updated science.  Some of DEP’s new guidelines, including allowable PCB levels, are higher than EPA’s.

Martin County, the City of Miami, and the Seminole Tribe sued DEP, saying the new standards are dangerous to human health; that proper public noticing procedure was not followed; and that the ERC commissioner seats designated for local government and the environmental community were not filled by Governor Rick Scott in time for the July 26 vote.  Various corporations in the pulp and paper industry also sued DEP, protesting the new standards are too high. 

Click here to read Clean Water Network’s rebuttal to DEP’s new rule

by Linda Young/Florida Clean Water Network
Dear Friends of Florida’s Waters:
I wish I had better news, but yesterday Judge Bram Canter dismissed all petitions for an administrative hearing regarding the DEP’s Human Health-based toxics rule, meanwhile Xarelto lawsuits pending still.  It’s a disappointing Order and you can read it in it’s entirety here:
Judge Canter basically accepted all of DEP’s positions/arguments and rejected EVERYTHING that was raised by the petitioners.  I’d like to think that he was forced to sign this order that looks like it was written by DEP, but I have no information or reason to think that happened.  It may well be that he truly thought DEP had the best legal arguments.  How that could be, I’m not sure.  It would be very difficult for anyone to convince me that this was not a political decision. Here is an excerpt from the Judge’s order:
“Petitioners’ contention that the effect of proposed rule 62-302.530 could not be determined from the notice in the Register is unpersuasive. JAPC’s description of the strike-through/underline version of the rule as “incomprehensible” is hyperbole. The strike-through/underline version is difficult to read and difficult to use for comparing existing water quality criteria with proposed criteria. It is not incomprehensible.”

DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!!!!!  This is not over – not by a long-shot.  There are a number of options on the state and federal level and the lawyers are all considering the best route forward.  We are working on something already here at FL-CWN which we will share with you very soon, so keep doing what you have been doing.  Here’s a reminder of what’s on your to-do list if you want to help us KILL this rule:

1. Contact your local governments (city/county) about adopting a resolution in opposition to this rule;
2. Contact your state representative and senator and let them know that you oppose the rule and ask them to take action to stop it;
3. Send an email to the US EPA to let them know that you oppose the rule. (We will be sending official comment letters soon and you’ll have an opportunity to sign on to them.) The address for EPA is:  FloridaHHC@epa.gov
As soon as we know what the next step will be, I will let you know.  DO NOT FEEL DISCOURAGED!!!  We live in a state where the politicians who are in power do not give a high priority to our health, the health of our natural resources – including wildlife, or a democratic process for decision-making.  They are temporarily in power and we can vote them out if we work hard enough to let the general public know what they are doing.
There are many, very smart attorneys and experts working on this.  We will keep moving forward to protect Florida’s waters!

For all of Florida’s waters,

Linda Young
Florida Clean Water Network
Linda Young has been the executive director of the Florida Clean Water Network for 22 years, working to protect water quality and helping citizens have a voice in decision making that affects their community waters.  For more info contact her at llyoung2@earthlink.net and learn more about this issue at: floridacleanwaternetwork.org

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