Bill to Remove Federal Oversight Over Florida Waters Passes House

Algae
Algae provides good cover for gators
TAMPA (2011-7-14) -

The state of Florida has been resisting calls by the federal government to clean up its lakes and rivers for several years. A bill passed yesterday in Congress would remove federal oversight from the Clean Water Act. This could have implications on clean water policies in the state.

The bill would bar the federal EPA from overruling state decisions on water quality - and effectively end a back-and-forth tussle between the state and the Feds. Earlier this year, the EPA said it would put on hold its efforts to regulate nutrients in runoff, which has been blamed for tainting rivers and springs.

Some business interests say the restrictions would impose costs that could harm the state's economy. But Audubon of Florida director Eric Draper says it could end up pitting states against each other.

"What we need to do is level the playing field with job creation and environmental protection," says Draper, "so that states don't compete by saying 'come here, because we've got dirtier water'."

Draper doubts the bill will pass in the Senate. The House bill passed on a mostly partisan vote, with Pinellas Congressman Bill Young the only local Republican voting no.

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