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U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns Shuts Public Out of Florida Water Pollution Hearing

Only representatives from sewage, agriculture and fertilizer industries can testify
August 5, 2011
Orlando, FL —

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Ocala) has sided with polluters and is refusing to invite any clean-water advocates or members of the public to testify at an Orlando Congressional hearing he is holding next week to discuss EPA’s proposed limits for sewage, fertilizer and manure in Florida waters.

“We are not sure why Rep. Stearns is stacking this hearing with representatives from polluting industries and shutting out clean-water advocates, but it doesn’t bode well for the public,” said Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller. “Stearns isn’t allowing any public testimony at the hearing, and instead has assembled a panel of people from the sewage, agricultural and fertilizer industries—the very parties who are polluting the public’s waters and causing nauseating toxic algae outbreaks.”

“If Stearns wants to hear from his constituents, he should make room to hear from business owners and residents who have endured the public health threat posed by toxic algae outbreaks and fish kills at dozens of cold-water springs, at Sanibel Island, Naples, Daytona, and other tourist beaches, and along the St. Lucie, Indian St. Johns and Caloosahatchee Rivers,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest.

Stearns’ one-side hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called “EPA’s Takeover of Florida’s Nutrient Water Quality Standard Setting: Impact on Communities and Job Creation,” will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 at the University of Central Florida Alumni Center in Orlando, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Building 126.

“This is a surprising and disappointing about-face for Rep. Stearns,” said Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone. “He was the only Republican in the Florida congressional delegation who voted in February against a damaging amendment by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta. That amendment, to the House Continuing Budget Resolution, would have stopped EPA from enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida. Fortunately, the Senate rejected it.”

Contacts

David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031

Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club, (727) 824-8813, ext. 302

Manley Fuller, Florida Wildlife Federation, (850) 567-7129

Andrew McElwaine, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, (239) 438-5472

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.