This week, the Florida First District Court of Appeal (1st DCA) affirmed the Division of Administrative Hearings order upholding the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s nutrient criteria rule. The 1st DCA affirmed Administrative Law Judge Judge Bram Canter’s order per curium (i.e. without an opinion). The challenge to the DEP rule was initially filed in 2011 by a group led by the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club. This affirmation should remove any doubt as to the validity and effectiveness of Florida’s nutrient criteria rule.
In response to the DCA ruling, the DEP issued the following statement:
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is pleased with today’s decision by the First District Court of Appeal, which affirms Administrative Law Judge Bram D. E. Canter's Final Order upholding DEP’s numeric nutrient criteria rules.
Today’s ruling was in response to an appeal of the June 2012 order by Judge Canter which upheld DEP’s rules in their entirety. The petitioners had challenged whether DEP’s existing and proposed nutrient rules were scientifically supported. The District Court of Appeal per curiam affirmed Judge Canter’s order. The appellate court’s affirmation follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision in November to approve Florida’s numeric nutrient criteria.
These peer-reviewed rules have received the full support of the Florida Legislature, members of the Cabinet, and the EPA, and now have withstood two rounds of judicial scrutiny. Due to the efforts of staff at the Department, and the support of Florida residents, the State of Florida has more numeric nutrient criteria set for our waterways than any other State in the nation.
These rules set limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as nutrients, allowed in Florida’s waters. DEP based these rules on more than a decade of research and data collection, and designed them to improve water quality, protect public health and preserve aquatic life in Florida’s waters.
No other state in the nation has even come close to adopting complete nutrient standards that cover 100 percent of lakes, rivers, streams, springs, and now 72 percent of its estuaries, as Florida has.