Dear Friends of Florida’s Waters:

I find myself looking forward to checking the docket for the DOAH (Division of Administrative Hearings) case over the proposed Human Health Toxics Criteria. The Seminole Tribe and the City of Miami have petitioned for an administrative hearing and the Florida DEP is flailing like a drowning rat.

For the past couple of weeks I have enjoyed the motions filed, responses, and even the notices of appearance from a whole stable of attorneys. I have to say that the Seminole attorneys and the City of Miami attorney are quite impressive. The DEP filings are snarky, almost hateful at times and come across as petty as they make their lame arguments about why the petitions should be denied.

I can ‘t wait to read Judge Bram Canter’s order when it comes out. I’m probably being a little too optimistic here, but I honestly can’t imagine how he would rule in favor of DEP’s motion to dismiss. Their track record on this one is pathetic. Here is a quick synopsis:

  1. June 30 – Published a Notice of the Rule changes in the FL Administrative Register. Also gave notice of the ERC meeting to be held on July 26;
  2. July 20 – JAPC (state agency) sent DEP a letter telling the agency that their public notice was confusing, unclear, misleading and generally did not meet the requirements of a statutorily required notice. JAPC went so far as to say that the notice language was incomprehensible to the general public. And it was. It took me about 2 hours to figure out what the hell was going on. I had people calling me and asking me what it meant and all I could say was that I was trying to figure it out – for hours. It was one of the most screwed up notices I have ever seen.;
  3. July 26 – DEP holds the ERC hearing anyway, inspite of the botched notice and the fact that two of the ERC seats were empty and a third one was hastily filled with a “ringer” (Craig Varn) who had just days before the meeting resigned as General Counsel (chief attorney) for the DEP.

I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!!! YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS KIND OF STUFF UP!!!

  1. August 4 – DEP publishes a “Correction/Notice of Change/Withdrawal” of the previous notice that JAPC said was basically worthless or worse. That was essentially admitting that the first notice was invalid, right?
  2. August 5 – Seminoles file a petition for administrative hearing.
  3. August 15 – DEP files a motion to dismiss the petition, claiming that it was filed two minutes late. Seriously!
  4. August 19 – City of Miami files a motion to intervene in the Seminoles Case (and filed its own petition as a precaution).

And so this is how the state of Florida operates today under Rick Scott. His environmental agency pushes for new water quality criteria that allows higher amounts of toxic chemicals in our waters. They hold three workshops in a state with 20 million people; They publish a seriously flawed, confusing public notice in a paper that no one reads except lawyers; the state tells the agency that the notice doesn’t cut it and they need to start over but DEP holds the hearing anyway and then when the Seminole Tribe and the largest city in the state ask for an administrative hearing – DEP fights them tooth and nail to deprive them of their day in court.

I have admitted that I am incredibly amused and entertained by all this. I hope I am not alone and that a few of you are willing to follow along with me. I’ll keep you posted whenever something new happens and if there is ANY justice in this state, we will have an administrative hearing, and the Seminoles and the City of Miami will win. The process will begin a new. We will have multiple workshops around the country where throngs of citizens will show up in protest.

This whole charade will turn into the pile of ashes that it deserves to be and Rick Scott and his debilitated DEP will be shamed.


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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