Legislation: This session, the legislature passed a bill authorizing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for those water bodies not covered under the first phase of the rule including coastal waters, canals and ditches. The bill also exempts the new rules from the requirement of legislative ratification. The "poison pill" provision in state rule which restricts DEP from implementing the rules unless the EPA approves them in their entirety has been repealed.
NNC Implementation Manual: The Environmental Regulation Commission has adopted as a rule the DEP’s manual addressing the implementation of the state’s numeric nutrient criteria. The manual had previously been submitted to the EPA to address a number of the agency’s questions about the implementation of Florida's rule. This resolves the challenge raised by a number of environmental groups that the manual was an unadopted rule. The manual will now be considered as part of the state's NNC rule package.
Litigation: The U.S. District Court invalidated the EPA stream criteria and downstream protection values for streams flowing into lakes. That decision has been appealed by environmental groups to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Briefs have been filed although a date for oral argument has yet to be set.
Next Steps: EPA is expected request modification of the Court's Order approving the Consent Decree, allowing full delegation to the state and thus satisfaction of the Court's order. We would expect environmental groups to challenge some of the above-referenced actions to prevent the state rules from going into effect and to leave the more stringent EPA rules in place.