|March 15, 2013
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi issued the following statement in response to the agreement between the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Florida’s waterways from excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.
"I have always maintained that Florida—not the federal government—should enact the rules and laws to protect our unique waterways. After years of litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency has done the right thing by reaching an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection that allows Florida's leaders, who know our waterways best, to implement sound criteria that will safeguard our water from excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution."
In December 2010, the State of Florida filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s intrusion into Florida’s previously approved clean water program. In February 2012, Attorney General Bondi announced that she prevailed on a key issue in her challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s numeric nutrient criteria rules for the State of Florida. Judge Robert Hinkle of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued an order invalidating the EPA’s stream criteria.
At that time, the Court upheld the site specific alternative criteria, or variance, process. Under this provision, if an applicant for a permit can show that the particular water body at issue should be governed by different numeric criteria, then a variance can be issued. The Court held that the criteria for lakes and springs, the downstream protective values for lakes that do not meet criteria, and the variance procedure were valid.