My name is Barney Bishop and I’m the CEO of Associated Industries of Florida and I’m here today on behalf of our 10,000 member companies across the state. We have grave and deep concerns about the standards that EPA is getting ready to mandate upon Florida through numeric nutrient criteria standards.
As we all acknowledge Florida is facing a water crisis. Without water there is no further development, no growth which of course means no jobs, no environmental protection and thus no economic rebound for the Sunshine State. For several years now, AIF has been working closely with Doug Mann and the Florida Water Alliance, a broad-based group consisting of businesses, water management districts, local governments and some environmental organizations on funding alternative water supply programs. But now on top of the water funding issues we have a new crisis – a manufactured one by environmental groups such as Earth Justice and others and their goal of numeric nutrient criteria is one that is unachievable and it will be extraordinarily expensive.
If the numeric nutrient criteria is enforced by the federal government, many manufacturers and companies may not be able to stay in Florida nor will any new companies be inclined to come here because it will be too expensive to operate here – and we will be the only state in the union that is having these criteria mandated upon them. This will absolutely put Florida at an economic disadvantage. Why would any manufacturer or company stay here or move here when just across the state line in Alabama, Georgia or any other state they can operate without expensive and unfunded mandates that will not impact their bottom line.
We all know the difficulties that all businesses are facing in this severe economic downturn. Unemployment is at a record 11% in Florida, which we haven’t seen in many, many decades. We are being told by local government and by the water management districts that these new potential EPA standards will significantly raise the price of water both to consumers and to businesses – the price tag for government alone has been estimated to be in the billions of dollars – and this is from the people who already want to insure that we have clean water in Florida.
Mr. Chairman, I am told by water experts that there is not a single body of water – not the best bass fishing lakes in the state, not in any river, stream or bay that currently meets this new mandated standard. In light of our robust recreational fishing industry which ranks number one in the country, why would we allow the federal government to unilaterally impose these abusive standards without a fight? I have read that some say that we will be able to contest these standards in Court, at the right time of course, but we shouldn’t wait to send a loud signal to the feds that we don’t need them telling us what our water standards are unless they are going to implement it nationwide. To do otherwise is to punish Florida for our excellent behavior. In fact, the only reason why we are facing this mandate is because Florida is the country’s leader in measuring nutrients in our water. And so for our good behavior, we are going to be punished by the environmentalists and the feds! To add insult to injury, the enviro’s and the fed’s can’t even justify their action based on any readily acceptable and peer-reviewed scientific standards – it’s just that they would like us to have even cleaner water than what we do now. I don’t suppose I have to remind you that right now, a continent away, there is a Climate Change conference that is embarrassed by the fact that supposedly reputable scientists have done their very best to manipulate their data to hide incongruencies, to keep other scientists who don’t happen to agree with their suppositions from peer-reviewed research periodicals, and to perpetuate their own hoax that the planet’s climate is changing not for planetary historical reasons but for alleged man-made reasons. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have been warned about climate change, we were told that we would be in a forthcoming ice age by scientists of the same ilk back in the ‘80’s. I’m not here to tell you that climate change is not occurring; I’m just here to tell you that the supposed “One World Order” view of it is now being second-guessed and downgraded by Americans in several polls that have recently been released.
In addition I would add, that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that Florida would be required to clean up the Apalachicola River and the Suwannee River from any pollutants that Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee might put into the water simply to insure that the last miles of these rivers in Florida meet these unscientific standards. It would make much more sense to require these nutrient standards on all states – but of course that would run counter to federal government thinking – Big Brother always knows best!
I believe that Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said it best yesterday at the Cabinet meeting when he heard similar testimony from Earth Justice about algae blooms and the like, and his appropriate comment is that this has been happening for millions of years – it is a natural occurrence that does not justify these onerous, expensive, unachievable and unilateral mandates.
In closing, the state of Florida should be allowed to continue to set our own water quality standards using existing scientific procedures that our own state experts can justify. I’ve rarely believed that just because the federal government says it is so, that they know more than we do here in our own state. And, while AIF sometimes agrees with Secretary Michael Sole and the Department of Environmental Protection, this is one instance whereby we believe that he and the department has the state’s very best interest at heart, and that he and the water management districts will continue to deliver clean water for Floridians to drink and recreate in that we can afford and deserve. This isn’t the first time, and I’m confident it won’t be the last, that environmentalist organizations will demand that we have a perfect, pristine environment – and of course they don’t care what the costs are, or the hurdles are. In their single-focus minds this is attainable. But to the average Floridian, we just want to try and do our best at an affordable price to live our lives with the least amount of governmental intervention. With respect, I would suggest that for the small percentage of citizens that agree with Earth Justice, that they can always move to California where the environment is perfect and their budgets are balanced.