Senator Bill Nelson and Representative Ted Deutch hosted a meeting with several experts in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday to discuss ways to derail a new policy that will allow more toxic chemicals in Florida’s waters.
Senator Bill Nelson says he has sent a letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency about the issue. He listed some of the effects of the new regulations.
“We’re talking about a 1300% [increase] of several different chemicals. So, we’re talking about some serious increases here,” he said.
Several experts said they were concerned that allowing an increase in benzene levels would open the door for fracking in South Florida.
Matthew Schwartz is the Executive Director of the South Florida Wildlands Association. He says the new plan poses a unique threat to wildlife.
“We can always filter our water," he says. "Our fish, our sea turtles, our manatees, don’t get treated water.”
Jennifer Hecker is the Director of Natural Resource Policy at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. She says the process in which the regulations were made by the Environmental Regulation Commission was flawed.
“Two of the seats were vacant, the environmental and the local government seats," she says. "Unfortunately they proceeded to move forward and even expedited when this would be heard.”
Hecker says this happened despite outside efforts to make room for more public comment. She says interventions by the EPA in state matters are rare, but says she hopes they agree to step in.