ARA Applauds Judge’s Decision On Water Quality

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) applauds the U.S. District Court decision, issued Friday, February 18, that restricts the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to impose numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) in the state of Florida.

The decision was handed down by Judge Robert L. Hinkle and found that biological harm, not just an increase of nutrients above background concentrations, must be the basis for EPA’s numeric nutrient standards.

The court determined that the EPA’s final stream criteria for the state of Florida, as well as certain aspects of the downstream protection values (DPV) for Florida lakes, are both arbitrary and capricious, and therefore invalid. The judgment was in response to litigation challenging EPA’s efforts in Florida filed by The Fertilizer Institute, ARA, and other stakeholders in the agriculture community.

An important part of the Court’s ruling that may set a precedent for similar cases in the future found that the agency did not demonstrate that nutrient increases result in a harmful increase in flora and fauna in streams. A significant and potentially precedent setting part of the ruling found that the agency did not demonstrate that increases in nutrients result in a harmful increase in flora or fauna in streams. This decision carried great significance because it potentially sets a precedent for Federal water quality regulations in other parts of the country.

“ARA is pleased with the Court’s decision because it’s important for the EPA to use sound science in their regulation of water quality nationally,” said Daren Coppock, ARA president and CEO. “This case is a big win for ARA members and represents a perfect example of what the agriculture industry can accomplish through a coordinated effort.”

It is rare for so many agriculture groups to file a case of this nature.  However, the EPA rule posed significant potential harm to Florida’s phosphate industry and agriculture in that state. It also set a potentially dangerous precedent for the industry.  Now, the authority to protect Florida’s water resources has been returned to the state.

Crowell & Moring provided legal representation in the court challenge to EPA’s NNC rule. The fertilizer and agricultural retail and distribution industries support sustainable nutrient use based on 4R stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time and in the right place). Through 4R nutrient stewardship, farmers are implementing best management practices (BMPs) that optimize the efficiency of fertilizer use by matching nutrient supply with crop requirements and to minimize nutrient losses.

For more information on the results of this case contact the ARA office at 202-457-0825 or visit www.aradc.org.

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