Bill Aimed At Limiting Water Rules Passes First Hurdle

Mar 4, 2014

Florida Wetlands
Credit Kim Seng

Representative Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City) says his bill will cut red tape for Florida’s farmers by removing excess regulations.  Currently, county governments in Florida can set standards for wetlands and springs protection and drilling wells. Patronis’s bill would take some of that ability away from local governments and leave it to the state. But Lee County lobbyist Sarah Bleakly says her county’s diverse environment requires local regulation.

“It has at least four separate districts so that the water resource is protected. And that the construction standards that are more strict in one area and therefore more expensive in one area don’t apply throughout the county,” Bleakly said.

Representatives from Audubon Florida and the Sierra Club also expressed concerns about the bill.  A controversial section allowing greenhouse gas polluters some protection from future federal regulation was removed prior to the committee meeting.