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Commissioner Fried Writes EPA Administrator-designate Regan to Reconsider Recent EPA Decisions

Michael Regan

Nikki Fried

The following press release is a request by Nikki Fried to our new EPA head to reverse two of  his predecessor’s most egregious, stupid and harmful actions.

We applaud this action and hopefully Secretary Regan will see the wisdom of this request and act accordingly.  Our new administration in Washington has a huge amount of work to do to undo the horrendous, unwarranted damage done to the environment by the departing administration.

Read the original press release at this link to Commissioner Fried’s website.

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Commissioner Fried Writes EPA Administrator-designate Regan to Reconsider Recent EPA Decisions

Dec 30, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, an independently-elected member of the Florida Cabinet, wrote to incoming EPA Administrator Michael Regan asking him to reconsider two recent EPA decisions that threaten Florida’s environment.

In October, the EPA reversed long-standing limits on the use of phosphogypsum, a radioactive byproduct of phosphate mining. The EPA was recently sued for the decision, which now allows the hazardous waste to be used in Florida roadbuilding, despite the EPA’s own concerns about potential long-term harm. This month, the EPA ceded its authority for wetlands permitting to the State of Florida, a decision that will weaken protections for sensitive wetlands and has been widely criticized by environmental groups and opposed in thousands of public comments.

The letter may be viewed here on Twitter or downloaded here, and reads as follows:

EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan
Biden-Harris Transition
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

December 30, 2020

Dear Administrator-designate Regan,

I write today to congratulate you on your designation as the next Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a role in which I look forward to working with you closely on behalf of Florida’s environmental resources.

I also write to urge your reconsideration upon taking office of two recent decisions by Administrator Wheeler and the current EPA that pose serious risks to Florida’s unique ecology and environment.

In October, the EPA discarded decades of long-standing policy by reversing a prohibition on the use of phosphogypsum, a radioactive byproduct of phosphate mining. The limits in place since 1989 require this hazardous waste, which contains more concentrated radioactivity, to be stored in closely-monitored stacks. Under the new EPA ruling, roadbuilders will be able to use phosphogypsum in roadbed construction, despite Administrator Wheeler’s “concerns about the potential long-term harm of phosphogypsum in roadways.”

This decision has also exposed the EPA to litigation filed in December by the Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups. I ask you to consider restoring the previous limits on the use of this byproduct.

This month, the EPA shifted authority under the Clean Water Act’s Section 404 program for permitting in protected wetlands to the State of Florida. Only two other states have received this authority in 43 years of wetland permitting authority; both states have faced significant difficulties in meeting federal law’s natural resources protection requirements, and have faced their authority returning to federal jurisdiction. According to Audubon Florida, the state agency now responsible for this critical process lacks the staff, resources, track record, budget, and personnel to successfully manage this permitting. I previously submitted testimony attesting the same during the EPA’s virtual public hearings ahead of this decision.

With the vast majority of public comments opposed, as well as numerous environmental conservation groups, I ask you to reconsider the EPA’s decision to cede their authority to an unprepared state agency.

You will no doubt be presented with numerous urgent environmental matters to address as the Biden-Harris Administration looks to remedy the deregulation spree of the past four years that has weakened protections for our environment, public safety, and vital natural resources. On behalf of the State of Florida, our 21 million residents, and our treasured water and land, I ask you to consider these among your many priorities.

Thank you and best wishes for a successful tenure at the EPA.

Sincerely,

Nicole Fried
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

cc:  Patrice Simms, EPA Agency Review Team Lead, Biden-Harris Transition

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