State leaders fighting EPA's expanded water regulations


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's Agricultural Commissioner wants the Environmental Protection Agency to back off Florida's bodies of water.

The state said a new rule from the EPA could wind up costing Florida millions of dollars.

A regulation from the EPA would expand federal government authority on Florida's water.

"(This is) an outrageous new rule that would expand its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act to almost any body of water," said Adam Putnam, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., said he will introduce a bill blocking the EPA's water authority expansion when Congress comes back from break.

Putnam joined Southerland Monday to stand with other policy groups and try to send a message to the EPA: nobody knows Florida's water better than Florida.

The group said that the EPA's proposal would extend the agency's reach from traditional rivers to even ponds and puddles.

Putnam scoffed at the new definitions of what the feds would have control of.

"Land that is seasonably or occasionally wet," Putnam said. "Folks, your front yard in North Florida is mushy right now. Should that be subject to Army Corps regulation?"

He said the rule will put a burden on multiple industries in the state. Jim Handley of the Florida Cattleman's Association said cattle farming are one of those industries.

"We're worried about more government intrusion in how we do business," Handley said. "We think we do a tremendous job taking care of the environment."

Ultimately, water projects like ditches and culverts would feel the biggest squeeze. A survey of eight county water projects in the state showed it would cost taxpayers more than $180 million to implement the regulation.