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Gainesville Sun: Rubio Moves to Block EPA Limits for Florida Waters

The freshman senator says the cost to implement the rules would be high.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's plan to set nutrient pollutant standards for Florida's waters suffered a political setback Tuesday when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio asked the Senate's Appropriations Committee to defund the federal agency's water criteria for the state.

Rubio sent a letter to committee Chairman U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and ranking Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi asking them to pull the funding. It would have set numeric limits on Florida's waters, about 60 percent of which EPA says are impaired.

Rubio, a Republican freshman senator from Miami, is calling for the addition of his rider and a full Senate vote on the issue. He said the cost of the standards isn't known, but could cost more than $1 billion annually to enforce the new rules, something Florida can't afford now.

Currently, Florida doesn't have numeric standards for nutrient pollutants nitrogen and phosphorus — two nutrients that cause dangerous algae blooms and change water chemistry when their concentrations are too high. The unwanted nutrients come from excess fertilizer, wastewater and stormwater. Businesses worry the new standards would choke economic growth.

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