The twisted rationale expressed to justify the dumping of more cancer-causing toxins into Florida’s waterways is well beyond the pale. State regulators advanced the farfetched idea that additional harmful chemicals will increase protections for Floridians than current standards.
That is the mind-boggling defense from the Environmental Regulation Commission, which proposed to increase the allowable benzene amount from 1.18 parts per billion to 3 under the new rules. The federal standard for this known carcinogen is 1.14 parts per billion.
The practical effect is, it is not going to increase the amount of toxins going into our waters.
Tallahassee lawyer Cari Roth
The 3-2 vote by the Environmental Regulation Commission shows a sharp division in that preposterous position, which increases the acceptable levels of more than two dozen carcinogens — all allowed in rivers, streams and other sources of valuable drinking water, fishing grounds and water sports. One commission member, a lawyer who represents developers on the board and sits as the chair, flatly stated, “It is more good than harm.”
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That commissioner, Tallahassee lawyer Cari Roth, also said, “The practical effect is, it is not going to increase the amount of toxins going into our waters.”
How could that possibly be? More than 24 cancer agents in higher concentrations allowed in our drinking water? How exactly is that “more good than harm”?
Polluters can now jettison dangerous amounts of chemicals — in strong concentrations — into Florida waterways before breaching the legal limits. Federal guidelines don’t surrender to polluters like Florida’s proposed new standards. Fortunately, the federal Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on these new rules as required under the Clean Water Act. Parts of the commission’s proposal should be dead in the water, so to speak.
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration couldn’t be any friendlier to business interests aiming to cut costs and maximize profits at the expense — and health — of the average Floridian. Taxpayer dollars are spent trying to remove these toxins from our drinking water. Dumping additional dangerous carcinogens into that water makes no sense. But the commission majority determined the new standards would protect more Floridians, bureaucratic hogwash at its worst.
There’s more proof of that government slight of the people. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection dubbed this rather dubious proposal “Monte Carlo,” famous as a casino in the gambling mecca of Monaco. The nickname appears to be a mockery of the gambling with the personal health of Floridians and visitors that diminished rules over dangerous carcinogens will produce.
Floridians should look south for proof that the state’s environmental protection programs are all too weak and worthless.
To be fair, the commission decreased the allowable levels of 13 currently regulated chemicals and added new rules on an additional 39. But that does not negate the troubling fact that some of these toxic chemicals, which can cause liver and kidney disease, birth defects and more beyond cancer, could be in higher concentrations in our waterways. Aldrin, an insecticide, could be dumped in amounts almost 500 percent higher than currently allowable. A carcinogen named bis(2 ethylhexyl) phthalate, a plasticizer for the manufacture of intravenous and transfusion tubing and blood bags proven to reduce sperm counts, could be increased by 600 percent over EPA recommendations.
Floridians should look south for proof that the state’s environmental protection programs are all too weak and worthless. The massive toxic algae blooms choking the rivers, beaches, marinas and communities across a wide swath of the state once again shows the destructive power of pollution, this from the nitrogen and phosphorus dumped and leaked into Lake Okeecohbee and then released downstream.
This is not over. First, Florida must submit the regulations to the EPA, then that federal agency must rule on it and then possibly agree to stage public hearings, and a court challenge could follow.
Florida can and should do better on environmental protection. These carcinogen-friendly rules should be rejected.