Federal Court Rules Against EPA's NNC

US - A federal court has validated cattlemen's concerns on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams and springs.
calendar icon 24 February 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

The Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) on April 28, 2011, challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination letter and final rule establishing numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams and springs.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee, resulted in a mixed ruling on February 18, 2012. Judge Robert L. Hinkle invalidated the criteria for streams as well as certain aspects of the downstream protection values for lakes ruling them “arbitrary and capricious.”

This action ultimately prevents EPA from implementing its proposed criteria for these water bodies in the state of Florida. While the Court upheld several of EPA’s arguments, FCA and NCBA are encouraged by the outcome.

“We hope the recent ruling prompts EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to pullback from implementing federal nutrient criteria in Florida and properly return the authority back to the state where it belongs. It is clear that EPA’s heavy hand will have irreparable harm on Florida agricultural producers if the agency’s actions are not stopped. Just as importantly, EPA must be stopped from applying this flawed model to other watersheds across the country,” said NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon.

“EPA’s science be damned approach should be stopped. Criteria must be based on science. EPA’s approach is not based on science and was rightly invalidated.”

According to Jim Handley, FCA executive vice president, the court’s ruling stating that EPA’s reference method used to derive the NNC is arbitrary and capricious should force EPA to rightfully return the issue to Florida.

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