Federal lawmakers from Florida are criticizing the state’s recent decision to allow for higher levels of toxins in its waterways. They’re worried about public health because some of the toxins cause cancer.
The Florida Environmental Regulation Commission approved increased levels for about 20 different toxins in Florida surface waters, like rivers and estuaries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would still have to approve the move.
Nine members of Congress recently sent the EPA a letter voicing their concern.
Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Panama City) signed the letter. She said as toxic algae blooms continue to plague Florida’s east coast, now is especially not the time for Florida to lower its water quality standards.
"We should be increasing our standards," said Graham. "It makes no sense to me at all. As a matter of fact, it's just appalling that those that would be in charge of protecting our environment and protecting what's most precious in Florida and protecting our citizens are taking actions that put all of those at greater harm."
Graham said she and other lawmakers will continue expressing their worries to federal environmental regulators.
But, Dee Ann Miller of the DEP said in an email that by making these changes it is strengthening Florida’s water-quality standards.
"Both the new and updated criteria have been calculated using the most advanced science, including recently issued guidance from the EPA," wrote Miller. "Each and every criterion protects Floridians, according to both the EPA and the World Health Organization."