Earthjustice Sues U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Over Inadequate Pollution Limits For Lake Okeechobee and Tributaries

Seeking more protective pollution limits


David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031, ext. 103

Earthjustice filed suit today in U.S. District Court to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set more protective pollution limits for Lake Okeechobee and its tributaries.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and Save Our Creeks, Inc., points out that nutrient pollution in the lake has caused toxic algae blooms which can contaminate drinking water supplies and sicken people and animals.

The EPA’s technical name for pollution standards is TMDLs, which stands for “Total Maximum Daily Load.”  It boils down to figuring out how much more pollution a particular waterway can stand before it collapses.

In 2006, EPA set a numeric limit (77 parts per billion) for phosphorous pollution that protected the lake. But after agriculture corporations mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign, the EPA in 2008 upped the limit to 113 parts per billion, which won’t adequately protect the lake or its tributaries.

“The EPA caved to the big polluters who are destroying the lake. It’s shameful,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest.

The suit asks the court to invalidate EPA’s 113 ppb limit for the lake and its tributaries on the grounds that, among other things, it is arbitrary and capricious. The suit also seeks to compel EPA to go back and set more protective pollution limits.

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