The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, part of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, met June 24 to discuss the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) numeric nutrient criteria. The panel consisted of state environmental authorities and others. According to the T&I Committee, most states currently use narrative standards, which the committee says give permittees more flexibility to achieve meaningful nutrient reductions than one-size-fits-all numeric standards. Read more.

In May, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the T&I Committee, introduced The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (H.R. 2018). This legislation would amend the Clean Water Act to preserve the authority of each state to make determinations relating to the state’s water quality standards. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would have implications on issues such as Florida’s nutrient criteria and mountaintop mining. However, according to EPA this bill could limit the agency’s role in the permitting process, causing costly delays or increased disapprovals of state water quality standards as well as an increase in litigation by environmental groups. Check here to see EPA’s response to this bill.

Florida — required by the EPA to adopt numeric standards after litigation in early 2009 — is one of the few states currently using numeric standards. However, due to pushback from the Florida state government, the wastewater industry, and others, EPA said it would repeal Florida numeric nutrient limits if the state develops agency-approved standards. The decision is in response to Florida’s April petition, and was expressed in a letter from EPA to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.