Source: Agricultural Retailers Association

Last week, members of the agriculture industry met with The White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to point out deficiencies and potential solutions to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) draft Florida numeric nutrient criteria, set to be finalized by Nov. 14, according to the Agricultural Retailers Association.

The final rule will set numeric nutrient water quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorus that would be allowed in Florida's lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals. The proposed rule is a result of a January 2009 EPA determination under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that numeric nutrient standards are needed in Florida and an August 2009 consent decree between EPA and the Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF). In the consent decree, EPA committed to propose numeric nutrient standards for lakes and flowing waters in Florida by January 2010, and for Florida's estuarine and coastal waters by January 2011.

The agriculture industry representatives asked OMB for a Scientific Advisory Board review of the entire rule, requested EPA to ask the court for more time, requested adding a biological review component for Florida waters to meet biological uses, and requested a more thorough examination of the costs and benefits that would result from this rule.

EPA has pending lawsuits with environmental groups in many other states for not establishing CWA numeric nutrient requirements, so it is important that EPA's actions in Florida do not set a bad precedent for the rest of the nation.