Monday, August 18, 2014

Clean Water Act rules under attack by Farm Bureau and Fla. Cong. Steve Southerland

In a media release this morning, the Florida Conservation Coalition declared certain factions in Washington are trying to weaken federal clean water rules in a way that will have a negative impact on Florida’s waters.

It hasn’t been enough that our inept governor has already castrated the water management districts by firing their scientists, slashing their budgets, and reversing their regulatory mission from protection to serving special interests.  Now, one of those special interests, the Farm Bureau, an insurance company turned Big Ag advocate, and other industry groups, are trying to do the same thing to the regulatory authority of EPA at the federal level with the help of Florida Panhandle Republican Congressman Steve Southerland.

The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 50 conservation organizations and thousands of individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources. The first priority of the Coalition is to protect and preserve Florida’s waters.”

The Coalition is encouraging Floridians who value healthy wetlands and a strong economy to express their opinion of H.R. 5078 to their congressman.

Here’s the Coalition’s media release in full:

Florida Conservation Coalition Calls on Public
 to Support Clean Water Act Rules

Congressman Southerland’s Bill, H.R. 5078, Muddies the Water
In the face of attacks by the Florida Farm Bureau and a narrow group of elected officials, the Florida Conservation Coalition calls on the citizens of Florida to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to protect Florida’s water resources.
The Clean Water Act prevents activities that would harm the nation’s rivers,
streams, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters. As required by the Act, EPA regulations protect water quality, help to prevent flooding and limit the impact of droughts. However, federal court decisions have made it essential that the EPA clarify which waters must be protected. 
Legislation proposed by Congressman Steve Southerland and supported today by the Florida Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau and other industry groups would prohibit adoption of an important new rule being proposed by EPA in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide this clarity. The legislation would also shut down the public comment process, denying the public the opportunity to voice its position on the proposed rule.
This effort by Representative Southerland and others to keep the Clean Water Act rules muddy is not in Florida’s best interest. Clarifying that streams and their wetlands are protected but uplands are not regulated brings certainty to landowners and assures protection of Florida’s most important natural resources.

The proposed rule actually excludes regulation of most dry ditches, the subject of the Farm Bureau’s objections. All historical exclusions and exemptions for agriculture are preserved, and the proposed rule provides exemptions for many farming, timber and other land-use activities. 

“Southerland’s legislation is a misguided reaction to the proposed rule.  This legislation intervenes in the middle of the public commenting process and raises suspicion that the industry groups demonstrating today do not want to allow citizens to voice their support of our natural resources. Clean water depends on clear standards,” said Vicki Tschinkel of the Florida Conservation Coalition and former Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  
It is especially important that Floridians support EPA’s efforts to protect wetlands which are an integral part of many Florida waterbodies. They are essential to human life in Florida, providing safe drinking water, flood protection for our homes and roads, and our food supply.  In addition, wetlands are vital to the health of Florida’s waters; to wildlife which depend on them for food and habitat; and to our fisherman, tourists and all citizens who depend on the productivity of our estuaries, Atlantic and Gulf.  There is nothing more central to Florida’s economy than the health of our water resources.
Despite the political fracas created by the Farm Bureau, EPA’s proposed rule does not increase or decrease regulation of farming or other activities. The rule simply makes clear the boundaries between flowing waters, wetlands and uplands.
“We are puzzled by the fierce reaction against something that only seeks to provide needed clarity to the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule does not regulate any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Act.  Clarity of these regulations is desperately needed to protect our precious, yet deteriorating waters and to stop endless litigation,” said Tschinkel.



  1. This is all part of the Plan. Weaken the State and WMD's regulatory capabilities by slashing budgets, removing experienced staff and placing controlled figureheads at the leadership positions and then have the federal government turn over the review of environmental impacts to the state. This is the same thing that jackass Carlos Beruff tried to promote several months back at SWFWMD when he sought to have the USACE turn over the review of wetland impacts to WMD's, stating the WMD's were a service industry and best positioned to provide service to the development community. This is a common themes among the hard right and they just keep looking for a crack to move their agenda forward. Unfortunately moderates are no longer electable as it seems you can only be elected if you are extreme left or right.

  2. It's odd how our rules can get twisted
    When parts of our schooling we've missed-ed
    So we make up some chit, force it to fit
    And convince ourselves we have fixed it