FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 28, 2012
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT -- ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
the Record Straight on the Gainesville Sun Editorial: Purge at DEP
editorial omits critical factors:
- The Department
has directed $11.5 million to springs protection alone.
numeric nutrient criteria – designed to clean Florida’s waters – has been
approved by the U.S. EPA and an Administrative Law Judge.
- Statewide to date, the Department has adopted
13 waterbody restoration roadmaps to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus, about half of which
were adopted in the past 24 months.
characterizes recent staffing reduction as a “purge.”
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has 3,024 full-time
employees, plus another 830 part-time employees, statewide who are dedicated to
enforcing federal and state rules, studying the environment and seeking to
leave Florida better tomorrow than it is today. Recent reductions amount to 1.5
percent of the workforce. To characterize this percentage of employees as a
purge is factually inaccurate and omits significant improvements made by the
CLAIM: “And in a master stroke, the department has laid off 58
veteran employees who were apparently too serious about doing their jobs.” . . .
and “purged the DEP of its most senior and experienced regulators.”
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: The Department’s
recent reorganizations were conducted after months-long assessments of
procedures and processes as well as staffing and workload levels. The process
has included thoughtful assessments to implement measures that increase the
effectiveness of reaching the Department’s core mission of protecting
environmental and human health. No programs or core functions have been
eliminated and the Department’s level of service will not be compromised.
reorganizing districts and divisions, leadership eliminated levels of
bureaucracy that improve communication, created a stronger employee to
supervisor ratio and combined or elevated similar functions to become more
efficient and consistent.
The Department has directed $11.5
million to restoration, outreach, monitoring and research of springs – doubling the amount of money spent from the
three previous fiscal years and identifying projects to take action.
CLAIM: “…protection of Florida’s
much abused water resources has become a joke. Scott has… fought off federal
water quality regulations…”
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: Florida
submitted its rules directly to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which
reviewed and ultimately approved the entirety of the state’s numeric nutrient
criteria prepared by Department scientists. These rules provide a reasonable
and predictable implementation strategy and for the first time provide numeric criteria to cover all lakes, rivers, streams,
and now 72 percent of our estuaries. Over the last three years, the Department has developed a better understanding of nutrient impacts to our waterbodies, leading to the establishment of numeric nutrient criteria that will increase protection of Florida's waters.
notion that Florida is acting in defiance of federal agencies is a direct
contradiction of the fact that proposed rules were upheld by both a state
Administrative Law Judge and the EPA. This endorsement by the EPA proves
that Florida is capable of implementing statewide rules that equal or exceed
the protection afforded by current federal rules.