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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Toxin rule becomes a election tinder in Miami Senate race

28

July

Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said late Wednesday he will ask Gov. Rick Scott to fill the two vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission and ask the board to reevaluate its decision, made Tuesday, to increase the limits on cancer causing substances in Florida's drinking water sources.

"I stand in opposition to the Environmental Regulation Commission's vote to approve new water standards that permit increases in the levels of several known carcinogens in Florida’s waterways,'' the senator said in the statement. "While some aspects of the proposal are positive, including the regulation of 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, other aspects of the proposal are simply unacceptable."

Diaz de la Portilla, a Republican from Miami, took the unusual break from the Republican governor on an issue that has caused enormous concern among environmentalists. He is in a competitive re-election race in a newly-drawn Senate District 37. He faces state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez who was among several Miami-Dade officials who spoke in opposition to the rule and last week sent a letter to Scott urging him to postpone the vote until he filled the vacancies. The governor did not respond to the letter.  Download Dade Elected Official Letter to DEP on Toxic Levels_72116 (1)

Diaz de la Portilla noted that had the governor filled the two vacancies -- one for a person representing environmentalists and another representing local government -- the measure may not have passed 3-2.

"I cannot help but think that the vote would have not been 3-2 in favor, but 4-3 against, had a full commission been given the chance to vote on this proposal,'' Diaz de la Portilla said.

Here's Diaz de la Portilla's statement:  I stand in opposition to the Environmental Regulation Commission's vote to approve new water standards that permit increases in the levels of several known carcinogens in Florida’s waterways. While some aspects of the proposal are positive, including the regulation of 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, other aspects of the proposal are simply unacceptable.

For example, the proposal permits levels of the known carcinogen benzene at a level almost twice as high as the federal standard; and the level of arsenic, a deadly substance at almost any level, at levels which are higher than the federal recommendation. Overall, the proposal allows for a 20 percent to a 1,100 percent increase in levels of currently regulated known carcinogens.

I am a Florida native. My family, loved ones, friends and colleagues live in this wonderful state, swim in its waters, and drink plentiful amounts of its water. I cannot understand how allowing for the increase of not one, but multiple known cancer causing agents in our waterways throughout the state makes any logical sense. As a Florida state senator and more importantly, as a father, I simply cannot stand by and do nothing as this indefensible proposal moves forward.

The ERC moved this vote from its scheduled September date to July, effectively eliminating the possibility of much of the state to comment on and consider the risks and impacts of the proposal. Additionally, two seats on the seven-member panel are still vacant – seats that are to be filled by a representative of the environmental community and a representative of local governments. I cannot help but think that the vote would have not been 3-2 in favor, but 4-3 against, had a full commission been given the chance to vote on this proposal. I am at this time writing to Governor Scott to ask him to fill the two crucial vacancies on the ERC as soon as possible. I am also requesting that the ERC reconsider its decision and hold a new vote in September as originally planned. The extra time will enable us to hold public hearings on the matter, and allow for further investigation into the true impact of this proposal.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 28, 2016 9:36am]

    

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