For Immediate Release Contact: Linda Young 850/322-7978
April 3, 2012
COURT DECISION COULD MEAN CLEANER WATER FOR FLORIDA
Pensacola – Florida’s polluted springs, lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters received another glimmer of hope for Clean Water Act (CWA) protection on March 30th when federal judge Casey Rodgers ruled in favor of three environmental groups and Linda Young who brought the suit against the US EPA in 2009. The suit was the fourth one against Florida’s “Impaired Waters Rule” (IWR) in the past 11 years, all of which have been won by environmental groups that filed the suits.
“These four cases resulted from an anti-Clean Water Act, Bush-era EPA that was in lock-step with politically powerful polluters,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Florida and a plaintiff in the case. “When Florida began its battle against the CWA during the Jeb Bush years, the Clinton EPA took a firm stand for the federal protections. When George Bush took over, EPA immediately reversed it’s position and started helping Florida and its polluters carve a route around the nation’s premier environmental law. We are hoping that this decision will be the point at which the Obama EPA makes a U-turn back in the right direction,” Young said.
The Northern District Federal Court ordered EPA to further develop “the administrative record with regard to the effect of the provisions of the amended IWR at issue in Counts I through V of the plaintiffs’ complaint on the state’s listing decisions according to the test prescribed by the Eleventh Circuit . . .”. EPA also has the option to appeal the judge’s ruling.
“I sincerely hope that the EPA will not continue down the path that was created under the Bush administration which has not led to positive results for Florida’s waters,” said Young. “The Obama EPA has an opportunity now to return to a proactive, pro-clean water policy that adheres to Clean Water Act goals.”
Florida DEP recently released a new list of impaired waters that further demonstrates the states’ determination to take as many polluted waters off the list as possible. With this new court order, many of Florida’s delistings should be rejected by the EPA.
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