Environmentalists protest outside Florida Rep. John Mica's local office to protest his "dirty water" bill

In a press release, the Sierra Club's Frank Jackalone said,

“Congressman Mica’s Dirty Water bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking action to clean up Florida’s contaminated waters when our State Government refuses to protect the public’s right to clean air and water. Let’s face it — Polluters rule our State Government in Tallahassee. Without EPA watching over our Governor and Legislature, those polluters will have a free pass to dump their waste and garbage into our lakes and rivers.”

Other environmentalists are blasting the legislation as well:

“The Mica attack on the Clean Water Act represents the worse assault on protection of America’s waters in the act’s history,” said Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley K. Fuller, III. “The Clean Water Act, which was the product of a bipartisan effort under Republican President Nixon, is now targeted for destruction by the US House of Representatives. The Mica bill is a travesty and must be defeated,”

Melissa Meehan Baldwin, Florida Organizer of the Florida Conservation Alliance, added, “Pollution is not confined by state boundaries. The Dirty Water Act would allow pollution from other states like Georgia and Alabama to contaminate Florida waters. Our beautiful rivers are a major attraction for Florida’s tourism industry and deserve our protection.”

The website maplight.org shows that those in support of Mica's bill - business and agriculture type groups - spent $$28,911,935 in campaign contributions to members of Congress. A measly $1,252,429 was spent by groups opposing the legislation.

And the EPA itself? They think Mica's bill is an example of a terrible piece of legislation that would thwart progress made in making our water cleaner over the past 40 years, as they stated last week in issuing this press release:

H.R. 2018 would roll back the key provisions of the Act that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the nation’s waters fishable and drinkable.

H.R. 2018 could limit efforts to safeguard communities by removing the federal government’s authority to take action when state water quality standards are not protective of public health. In addition, it would restrict EPA’s authority to take action when it finds that a state’s Act permit or permit program is inadequate and would shorten EPA’s review and collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers on permits for dredged or fill material.

All of these changes could result in adverse impacts to human health, the economy and the environment through increased pollution and degradation of water bodies that serve as venues for recreation and tourism, and that provide drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife.

H.R. 2018 would disrupt the carefully constructed complementary Act roles for EPA, the Army Corps and states in protecting water quality. It also could eliminate EPA’s ability to protect water quality and public health in downstream states and could increase the number of lawsuits challenging state permits.

Last week the GOP-led House of Representatives passed the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act on a near party line vote, a vote that opponents say they were outspent 23 to 1 in contesting.

The bill would amend the Clean Water Act by restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to issue a revised or new water quality standard for a pollutant whenever a state has adopted and EPA already has approved a water quality standard for that pollutant. It would also "prevent unilateral actions by the EPA that second-guess the decisions of the state regulatory agency."

Thursday morning in Maitland, Florida, a host of environmental activists protested outside Republican Congressman John Mica's local congressional office. The Florida Republican Representative sponsored the bill, which opponents are referring to as Mica's "Dirty Water" bill, claiming it would leave Florida without strong legal protections against pollution discharged in places like Lake Apopka, the St. John’s River, the Indian River Lagoon, the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee, the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.