Local governments fighting for clean waterways

Posted on September 30, 2016 by Linda Young

The last couple of columns I’ve written for you have been about the state’s push to allow more toxic chemicals, some carcinogens, to be dumped in our waters. This is obviously a bad idea and I’ve yet to hear someone say they like the idea of chemicals such as benzene, toluene, carbon tetrachloride and dozens of others, showing up in our drinking water supplies, fishing waters or oyster bars in higher concentrations. However, that is still the direction that state policy is headed at this moment.
WAIT! Don’t hit the panic button yet; there are still a few hurdles for Rick Scott’s “Cancer Lottery” to navigate before big polluters across the state can take their new pollution limits to the bank.  In addition to an appeal that was filed with the 3rd District Court of Appeals, there is a widespread grassroots and local government effort underway to stop these toxics from claiming more lives.
County and City Commissions across Florida (Republican and Democrat) are signing resolutions in opposition to this toxics rule which increases allowable levels of toxic chemicals to be dumped by big industrial polluters such as paper mills, coal-fired and nuclear power plants, phosphate mines, etc.  The Florida Pulp and Paper Association is fighting the rule because they want an even larger increase in allowable chemical levels.  These companies have more money, lawyers, lobbyists and politicians in their pockets, but we have more people — more voting people.
If you would like to help stop this not so subtle form of corporate welfare, contact your County Commissioner and ask him to initiate a vote on a resolution to oppose Florida’s proposed Human Health Toxics Criteria.  These resolutions which are growing in number by the day are being sent to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  EPA will have to approve or disapprove Florida’s rule.  In addition to the technical arguments that we are sending to EPA, the local government resolutions will help EPA have the political will to do the right thing.  You can get a template for a resolution by emailing me at llyoung2@earthlink.net
Remember, when the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) voted 3-2 to allow this enormous increase in toxics in our waters, the seven-member commission was two members short. For over a year, Gov. Rick Scott has left the local government representative and the environmental representative seats unfilled.  So local governments across the state had no voice in this decision.  Additionally, the state hearing officer dismissed the petitions that were filed by Martin County, City of Miami, Seminole Tribe and the Florida Pulp and Paper Assoc.
This makes our messages to the US EPA even more important.  The sample resolution outlines many of the reasons that EPA can rely on to disapprove Florida’s proposed changes to its water quality standards. For instance, the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection ignored both state and federal requirements for public notices.  Also, for several chemicals, the risk of death by cancer is greater than the bare minimum protection levels that the US EPA has set.
Please contact the Santa Rosa County Commissioners today and ask them to take a stand against more toxics in our waters.