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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Politics waters down new EPA pollution rules



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, facing heated criticism and pressure from the Florida Congressional delegation, is delaying a key component of its plan to clean up Florida's waterways.

U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam announced the decision Thursday that the EPA is withdrawing the downstream values protection -- the most debated and most stringent part of the new nutrient pollution rules announced in January -- and seeking a third-party scientific review. The state Department of Environmental Protection, backed by a coalition of Big Business groups, disputed the methodology used to make these standards, even though the EPA had its figures independently reviewed before the announcement.

It's a major reversal for the EPA, who earlier this month defended the science and methodology in a conference call.

UPDATED 3/19/2010: EPA spokeswoman Andy Adora (finally) responded with the statement below, which notes that these downstream values set early, ahead of the 2011 deadline.

"This has nothing to do with politics, this has to do with EPA’s commitment to science and transparency. After considering all the input we received and reviewing the record, , we’ve decided to publicly reaffirm our original plan, outlined in the January proposal, which is to set the downstream standards in 2011. We recognize that the issues raised by the downstream standards are complex and believe the 2011 time frame for finalizing the standards will allow more time to get public input, review the best available science and engage in scientific peer-review to develop appropriate and protective numeric nutrient standards for Floridians."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:30pm]


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