TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Citing new science, the state is proposing changing the standards for chemicals that can be released into surface waters, but environmental groups are crying foul.
The state is proposing changing the criteria for releasing 43 regulated chemicals into surface waters. It would also allow higher limits for about half of them, while regulating 39 new compounds. Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett says the changes are safe and based on new science.
Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett says the changes are safe and based on new science.
“A lot of them are getting more stringent. Some of them are getting less stringent. It’s just what the science tells us. So when you look at a number in a table and see a difference, people are going to react,” says Bartlett.
But the changes have environmentalists are up in arms. The Florida Clean Water Network says most of the changes raise limits above those recommended by the EPA. They call it a cancer lottery.
Linda Young of the Clean Water Action Network said, “There’s a number of major industrial processes and companies that would benefit greatly from these relaxed, and I would call it the unproductive criteria.”
In the end, many environmentalists say they just can’t trust an agency that reportedly won’t let its employees say the words “climate change.”
“This is a bad critter,” says Dr. ray Bellamy, who testified against the new standards at a public hearing.
Bellamy is not a toxicologist, but he was appointed by both Democratic and Republican governors and served 6 years on the commission that will make the ultimate decision.
“We consider almost everything they do to reflect industry pressure and interests,” says the former regulator.
The DEP says it has not yet decided when it will take its proposal to the Environmental Regulation Commission for final approval.
The agency says the changes were reviewed by a panel of scientists. Our call to one of the participants, a Florida State University Toxicologist, was not returned.