Dear Friends of Florida’s Waters –

This afternoon we received great news from the Seminole Nation in South Florida. They have petitioned for an administrative hearing at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to challenge DEP’s Human Health Toxics Criteria Rule. Hurray for the Seminole Tribe!!!!

This is critically important for two reasons:

  1. The Tribes may be the only group in the state that could have standing to challenge;
  2. The petition correctly points out that the public notice for the hearing was inadequate and therefore the rule is invalid;

This likely means that DEP has to do the hearing all over again. Yes!!! You read that correctly. All over again. If I had to guess, I will guess that the DEP will voluntarily pull the rule from DOAH and schedule a new hearing. We have to wait and see about that.

In the meantime, we will NOT let any grass grow under our feet. Right? I am writing a petition to Rick Scott that will get widely circulated by all of us, on social media and through the network of organizations that are working on this. Here’s what we will demand from Rick Scott:

  1. That he fill three seats on the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) before any more ERC meetings/hearings are held. These seats include the two empty ones for an environmental representative and a local government representative. He also needs to excuse Craig Varn, who was appointed to fill the “Lay Person” seat, one month after he resigned from DEP as general counsel. He is not a “Lay Person”, he is a plant, a ringer. Here is the dictionary definition of Craig Varn on the ERC: “an impostor, especially one whose pretense is intended to gain an advantage in a competition”. He must be replaced by a true “Lay Person”.
  2. That he instructs DEP to hold public workshops around the state so that everyone can know and understand what this major change in public policy toward human health protection is all about. There should be at least two in SE Florida (Broward and Dade), at least one in SW Florida, one in the Tampa Bay area, one in NE Florida and one in NW Florida. The workshops and final hearing should be held in facilities that are large enough for everyone to be in the same room so everyone can hear the proceedings.
  3. That he instruct DEP to properly advertise the workshops and the hearing and not rely exclusively on a notice in the Florida Administrative Weekly, which no one except attorneys read. The workshops and hearing/s should be advertised in every major newspaper in the state and sent out to television stations as well.

In my next newsletter, which will arrive quickly, I will provide the link to a petition that you can sign and share with everyone. Our previous suggestion to contact EPA is still okay but this rule will not reach EPA for many months now. So our focus will be on getting the public educated on what’s happening and getting people to speak out against increasing toxic chemicals in our waters and the fish we eat; against putting public health at greater risk of cancer and other serious diseases and against DEP and Rick Scott trying to ride roughshod over us with their Florida Cancer Lottery, as if we don’t matter when there is an opportunity for corporations to make more money.

Finally, thank you to everyone for your great work on this issue. There have been countless organizations, individuals, local governments, media outlets, schools, businesses and more – working to educate the public about how our state government is trying to increase our risk of getting cancer and other diseases through greater exposure to toxic and/or carcinogenic chemicals that are discharged into our drinking water supplies and waters where we fish, swim and harvest shellfish.

Together we can defeat Rick Scott’s Cancer Lottery!!!

For all of Florida’s Waters,

Linda Young

About the Author

Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.

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