EPA Out of Control: Flashpoint Florida

on . Posted in Free Market Flashpoints


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is out of control. Whether it's sending millions of taxpayer dollars overseas to export its climate change agenda or prosecuting a war on prosperity here at home, the EPA juggernaut is now driven more by ideological extremism than by sound science.

Examples are easy to find. Look no farther than Florida, a pivotal battleground in the race for the White House, to find one of EPA's latest billion-dollar-boondoggles. Thanks to a particularly poisonous special interest lawsuit, the EPA is on the brink of forcing draconian new water regulations on the Sunshine State. These regulations are not being imposed by our elected officials or even by sound scientific consensus. Instead, they are the result of litigation, filed by a special interest group called EarthJustice. If put into effect, economists estimate that the cost of complying with this regulation could soar into the billions.

It's not based on science–it's based on politics. Unfortunately, if they get their way, EPA regulators will apply the same "nutrient" standards to drainage canals that would be applied to Florida's most pristine bodies of water, casting aside years of scientific research.

Florida is the guinea pig. Although Florida has long been a leader in improving water quality, this seemingly arbitrary regulation affects only Florida — for now. Florida is being treated as a guinea pig for this nonsensical regulation, and could even become financially responsible for the nutrient content of rivers that flow into Florida from neighboring states that do not have to meet the same standards. But if EPA isn't stopped in the Sunshine State, its baseless "Water Tax" model could quickly move to other parts of the country.

It's not about the water. In fact, for years, Florida has been a national leader in improving water quality. Local taxpayers have spent tens of millions of dollars on the scientific research and improvement of water. Ironically — and unfortunately — it has been Florida's research which seems to have made it the target of this aggressive new regulation.

Follow the money. Groups like EarthJustice thrive on litigation — it's the centerpiece of their "business model." Typically, the bigger the lawsuits and the greater the regulation, the quicker they can generate new funding for their next anti-free market project. Florida has been singled out for this litigation because efforts to improve its water quality have produced an extensive scientific database. Tragically, the fact that Florida has been targeted for litigation may discourage other states from undertaking extensive scientific research of their own for fear of being targeted themselves.

It's a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approach. Like many states, Florida is home to a variety of diverse ecosystems that require a carefully-constructed, thoughtful and scientifically-sound approach to water quality. Unfortunately, the EPA's "Water Tax" approach is unrealistic, unscientific and unimaginably costly for Florida taxpayers, farmers and business, who will bear the enormous expense.

A study by the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concludes that these regulations would directly cost Florida's agricultural community roughly $1 billion each year, with additional indirect costs also exceeding $1 billion. The study goes on to indicate that implementation of these special interest-driven regulations could put more than 14,000 agricultural workers out of a job. You can read the complete study by clicking here. You can also read the the report by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, which puts the cost between $6 and $12 billion, by clicking here.

The bottom line is that these regulations were not drafted by scientists; they were concocted by special interest lawyers who stand to benefit from the implementation of this unworkable, expensive and ridiculous new form of regulation.

Independent studies reveal soaring costs. Depending on how strictly EPA decides to enforce these standards, the costs to Florida's farmers, businesses and consumers would range between $1 billion and $8 billion annually, says an independent economic study. In some cases, compliance with these scientifically questionable regulations is not only absurdly expensive, it's impossible.

Still need more information about this issue? Click here to read Congressman Tom Rooney's guest column in the TC Palm or take a moment to check out Senator Bill Nelson's letter to the EPA by clicking here.

Is heavy-handed environmentalism hurting the economy in your state? Let us know by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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