December 10, 2011
Untrue, Twisted, & Misleading
In arguing to the ERC against a Clean Water Network amendment to surface water quality rules, DEP used ďuntrue, twisted & misleadingĒ statements, says Linda Young. The amendment failed by unanimous vote of committee members, all aligning themselves with corporate interests.
Dear Friends of Floridaís waters:
I apologize for not getting this out on Friday. I intended to do that, but I was behind on many office duties that have been neglected for the past month and important deadlines consumed my day. I know that you wanted to hear about the ERC hearing on Thursday. Many of you may have read the media coverage which was appreciated, but scant on important (to me) details. So here are some of my impressions.
First of all, for anyone who didnít see a newspaper article, our amendment did not pass. This was not a huge surprise. As I told you in previous emails, of the six commissioners there were only four that we even had a slight chance of convincing. As it turned out, only three were truly receptive. We were given plenty of time to present our amendment and explain its merits. I appreciated that. In addition to myself, two local Tallahassee medical doctors also presented testimony. Dr. Ron Saff, who is an allergy and asthma specialist, spoke to the health effects on sensitive populations to breathing airborne toxins from toxic algal blooms as well as the health care cost associated with recent red tides in Florida. Dr. Raymond Bellamy, a surgeon in Tallahassee and a former two-term ERC commissioner himself also spoke on behalf of our amendment and addressed health concerns that could result from the industry slanted rule. They were both very impressive and greatly appreciated. 
Three of the commissioners were very interested in the details about the implementation of the rule. I had provided them with information about our concerns and documentation prior to the meeting. I also had phone and in-person meetings with four of the commissioners. So, those four were well informed on why our amendment was important. They asked quite a few good questions of DEP even before I gave my presentation. Their questions were in regards to allegations that I had made about the inadequacies of the nutrient rule. 
Unfortunately, DEP gave answers that were: untrue, twisted, misleading, completely theoretical and/or confusing. It is always so frustrating to listen to DEP staff discuss their water program policies. They put a very convincing and effective spin on their malfeasance, so that someone who isnít constantly following DEPís work would never be able to perceive the duplicity and deceitfulness that is skillfully woven through their rhetoric. I tried to tactfully point this out to the commissioners with two examples and I think they were smart enough to know that they were getting a slick, industry-driven spin job from the agency. They asked some pointed questions of DEP, which the staff could not deny as they knew that the commissioners had my documentation right in front of them.
Ultimately, there were three potential votes for us Ė at best. I think they would have voted for us, but that was not enough to win and the other three made it clear they were in industryís camp. I would like to think that our three commissioners did the math and decided to not go out on a limb that would clearly not support them. I understand their reluctance to draw fire for a cause that was not going to succeed on Thursday. They also knew that we can take this issue to federal court, which we absolutely will as soon as EPA approves Floridaís rule. So, we have not reached the end of this journey yet. It would be great to have leadership in our state government that is not completely sold out to the polluters, but we wonít have that until Florida voters quit electing them. I hope that day arrives soon!!!
If you sent emails or comments to DEP or the ERC members or your state representatives and did not copy me on these letters yet, please forward me a copy. I am printing out all of the ones that you sent me and they will go in a packet to EPA. That packet will become part of the record that will then be submitted to the court when we ultimately sue over this issue. Thank you so much for everyoneís help. I received many of your comments that you sent to DEP and the ERC members and they were excellent. Several of the ERC members told me they were getting deluged with comments. So, they know you care and they know that they adopted a rule that will allow Floridaís waters to get even more polluted. Iím so glad that I donít have to get up every morning and know that I voted for the further destruction of Floridaís waters. 
The next step is for the Florida legislature to vote on the rule. 
Iím going to look into the timing for that and potentially ask you to help me alert them to our opposition to this rule. I wonít ask you to do anything more on this until after the holidays, so everyone enjoy the season. As you reflect on 2011, and look toward the new year ahead, think of the efforts that you made to help protect Floridaís waters for their value to this amazing planet upon which we live. 
Every effort you made is joined by that of thousands of other people. We may not win every step of the way, but we will ultimately succeed. As I said in my last email to you, just the fact that there are so many people in Florida working on this TOGETHER, makes us successful. We are scattered from the Keys to Pensacola, but we are focused and working TOGETHER on one of the most important issues in this state. I wish I could bring us all together in one place so that all of you could know each other. It is such a gift and a blessing to me to have the opportunity to work on protecting Floridaís waters with you. 
Finally, I send my sincere appreciation to all of you who have sent your financial support for our work this year. Your contributions make a significant difference in how much we can do. Thank you so much for your generosity and for sharing your hard-earned money with CWN-FL. 
If some of you would still like to send a tax-deductible contribution to CWN-FL it will go to the continuation of this effort and our commitment to protecting Floridaís waters. You can send your donations to: PO Box 5124, Navarre, FL 32566. 
For all of Floridaís waters,
PS Ė A red tide report from SW Florida a few days ago:
Red tide has been very high in and around Sanibel with over 30 million cells/L at the Sanibel Boat ramp, 70 million cells/L at the Tarpon Bay boat ramp. Six Federally endangered and state listed juvenile Kemp's Ridley's were found dead on the eastern end beaches of Sanibel. Necropsies are pending but the deaths are believed to be related to red tide. 
The Lee County Health Department has issued an advisory against harvesting and eating shellfish from local waters due to poisoning from red tide toxins.
Past reports and background information on Caloosahatchee conditions are available online at: