Posted by: reefrescue | April 15, 2010

U.S. judge says EPA fails to protect Everglades from pollution

FDEP stripped of its power to issue new or amend Clean Water Act permits to discharge water into the Everglades.

Palm Beach Post

In a scathing 48-page ruling released on Wednesday, Federal District Judge Alan S. Gold accused the EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District of deliberately ignoring and refusing to enforce the laws limiting the amount of phosphorus discharged into the Everglades.

The judge stopped short of finding the EPA and Florida’s environmental agency in contempt. But he found that the agencies were not in compliance with an ordered he issued in July 2008. The judge also criticized the water district, though it’s not a defendant in the suit, for “not taking any action to meet Clean Water Act requirement.”

The ruling gives the EPA until Sept. 3 to devise a plan to force DEP to enforce lower phosphorus limits. The order also strips the DEP of its power to issue new or amend permits to discharge water into the Everglades.

Most phosphorous pollution comes from fertilizer runoff from farms and from development. In 1994 lawmakers set a deadline of 2006 to reduce phosphorus levels to 10 parts per billion. The deadline was extended to 2016 by “legislation and rule-making that was so complex as to be incomprehensible to lay persons,” Gold wrote.

Read entire Palm Beach Post article

U.S. JUDGE THREATENS EPA WITH CONTEMPT ON EVERGLADES — EPA Administrator Jackson Personally Summoned to Detail Pollution Compliance

The April 14, 2010 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold followed a contempt hearing into repeated violations by EPA and Florida’s DEP of a 2008 ruling by Judge Gold directing the agencies to comply with phosphorous limits for sensitive Everglades waters.  In withering language, Judge Gold found EPA guilty of “dereliction of duty…contrary to the Clean Water Act”.

The frustrated federal judge stopped just short of a formal contempt of court finding against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to stem mounting pollution in the Florida Everglades.  However, the court did –

  • Suspend the State of Florida’s authority to issue water pollution permits;
  • Order EPA to immediately undertake dramatic remedial action to reduce Everglades pollution levels; and
  • Personally summon EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to appear in court and explain why her agency has repeatedly violated the 2008 court order to begin an Everglades cleanup.

The judge is holding in reserve whether to make a formal contempt finding, carrying civil or criminal penalties, against EPA and Florida.

Read PEER press release

Read Judge Gold’s decision


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