Environmentalists win victory on fertilizer bans
Environmentalists won a key -- if potentially fleeting -- victory today as a provision pre-empting most local fertilizer restrictions was stripped from the Senate agriculture bill in a committee.
More than 40 communities have passed restrictions on using fertilizer during the rainy summer months, in hopes of restricting runoff that pollutes waterways. Pinellas County has the toughest ordinance, banning both the use and sale of fertilizer during the summer. It takes effect in June.
The proposal would require cities or counties to adopt a model ordinance crafted by the state Department of Environmental Protection. If they wanted to pass a stricter law, they would have to jump through several hoops and prove their water has already been polluted by fertilizer. The measure was stripped 4-3, with GOP Sens. Dennis Jones and Thad Altman joining Democrats Al Lawson and Eleanor Sobel to take it out. Republicans Don Gaetz, Andy Gardiner and Mike Bennett voted to keep the provision in.
But the environmentalists' win could be only temporary: The Senate could still add the provision back in on the Senate floor or accept the House version of the bill, which also pre-empts local ordinances.