The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) applauded U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s Jan. 7 ruling that puts the management of Florida’s water quality back into the hands of the state and ensures that science takes precedent when establishing water quality standards.
The issue of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) involvement in establishing numeric nutrient criteria for Florida formally began on Jan. 26, 2010. As a result of a “sue and settle” lawsuit, EPA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to establish water quality standards for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters. The NPRM represented the first time EPA has attempted to displace a state’s efforts to manage nutrient impacts by establishing federal NNC.
The Jan. 7 ruling strongly rebuts environmental litigant’s arguments - which stated that it is primarily the job of the federal government to set water quality criteria - and instead shows support for Florida’s ability to manage its own water resources. Hinkle, in support of the cooperative federalism approach taken in the Clean Water Act, takes great strides in the ruling to explain that the EPA takes over only if the state fails to adopt appropriate standards. This is an important distinction to recognize as other states work to develop their own nutrient standards.
“TFI strongly supports the protection of our waterways with effective water resource protection programs,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “We also believe that water quality criteria, especially for nutrients, needs to use the best available science and be workable and achievable for industry and agriculture while also protecting the environment.”
“We would like to thank the Florida Congressional delegation and the state legislature for their role in supporting the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and ensuring realistic and achievable science based standards are realized,” continued Jahn.
“Finally, we extend our thanks to the FDEP for its tireless work to craft strong, realistic and achievable nutrient criteria using a science-based approach that will have a positive impact on Florida’s waters,” concluded Jahn.