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article imageOp-Ed: 'This is crazy' — Fla. regulators to vote on weaker water regs

By Karen Graham     Jul 26, 2016 in Environment
Miami - It's a dumb question, some people might say, but is it OK that Florida state regulators want to increase the amount of toxic chemicals allowed to be dumped in the rivers and lakes?
But if you are a member of the Governor Rick Scott-appointed board in Tallahassee, of course, you will be expected to vote on increasing the amount of toxic chemicals allowed in Florida's state waters. After all, what Scott wants, he gets because it is his state, and to hell with public health.
The governor-appointed Environmental Regulatory Commission is voting today on a proposed rule that would increase the number of regulated chemicals allowed in drinking water from 54 to 92 chemicals and raise the state-allowed limits on over two dozen known carcinogens.
These carcinogens are currently regulated at levels that are from 20 percent to 1,100 percent higher than current standards, reports the Miami Herald. At the same time, the commission wants to reduce the allowable limits on 13 other chemicals, two of them considered carcinogens.
Speaking with the Miami News Times, Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean Water Network, said, "What we have is a governor who has his agency playing God with our lives."
"I don't think there's anyone out there other than the polluters and the politicians who benefit financially from them who think we need to dump more toxic chemicals in our water supply." I have to agree with Young on this issue.
As everyone knows, "big sugar" obviously has the state government in their pocket and Lake Okeechobee has already become an environmental disaster. And just to remind folks in the Sunshine State - How is your algae problem doing? Wouldn't it be just ducky if even more pollutants were added to your rivers and lakes?
Benzene, a carcinogen and a byproduct of oil and gas drilling operations like fracking would have its levels increased to almost double the federal level, at 2 parts per billion from the current 1.18 ppb; the federal standard for benzene is 1.14 ppb.
Algae infestation in Florida in 2016.
Algae infestation in Florida in 2016.
Young, as well as many others, are really up in arms over the commission. The five slots appointed by the governor are all businessmen with vested interests in the state. Two other slots, an environmental representative and a local community representative, are not filled. Strange? Well, you decide. The seven seats are in accordance to state requirements, but appeals to Scott asking him to fill the vacant seats were unsuccessful, the Herald reported.
According to, DEP’s proposed criteria will lower standards for 89 known carcinogens and/or human health-based toxic chemicals," Randall Denker, a former attorney for the department, wrote in a letter to ERC commissioners. "Floridians will get weaker protection from almost two dozen carcinogens if the ERC approves DEP’s proposal. Essentially all of the chemicals would be allowed in our drinking water supplies, shellfishing areas, swimming and fishing waters at significantly higher amounts."
We have a governor who hates regulation, and we have his agency that is doing his bidding," Young says. "This is wrong, and it's bad public policy. Scott is saying, 'I don't care if there are millions of people at much greater risk of cancer.'"
Yes, it is bad policy, but more importantly, it's bad for the public's health and for the economy. Don't forget the tourists that keep much of the economy of the state in the black. But the bottom line is this - If the people of Florida allow this asinine change in water quality regulations to go through, then you are saying "I don't give a darned what they do in Tallahassee."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about water quality standards, florida regulators, Clean water act, Governor Scott, Toxic chemicals
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