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.”