by Max Brantley
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today announced that he'd joined other states in a fight against environmental groups seeking stronger anti-pollution standards on nutrients discharged into the Mississippi River.
McDaniel said in a news release (on jump) that the environmental groups want "unnecessary and unreasonable" regulation.
Tell that to those who are familiar with the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. The larger ramifications, including flood control along the river, extend to loss of coastal marshlands that, in addition to nurturing aquatic life, serve as a damper on hurricane damage. But that's Louisiana. In Arkansas, McDaniel's concern for 2014 is keeping farmers happy.
Here's the other side of this battle in a public radio report, which included the illustration above. Red and orange indicated high concentration of algae and river sediment, contributors to dead zones were low oxygen snuffs out sea life.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit in which several environmental advocacy groups seek unnecessary and unreasonable federal regulation of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Arkansas should be allowed to intervene in the suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of the significant and costly implications an EPA loss or settlement would have on the State and its agricultural industry, McDaniel said. He joined attorneys general from nine other states in a court filing Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
“Arkansas is abiding by federal clean-water regulations already in its management of pollution within the Mississippi River watershed,” McDaniel. “We are protecting our waters. We do not need more burdensome and costly federal regulation that will threaten important agricultural jobs in the Delta, result in higher sewer bills and negatively impact our overall economy.”
The environmental advocacy groups have asked the Court to force the EPA to institute specific, numeric criteria for total nitrogen and total phosphorus discharges in Arkansas and the entire Mississippi River watershed. The groups also want the EPA to impose total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements for nitrogen and phosphorus within the watershed.
The EPA maintains that it has worked with states to address nutrient pollution issues, and that states should develop and adopt their own standards for nutrient runoff, consistent with the Clean Water Act.
The case mirrors a recent lawsuit filed in Florida in which the EPA agreed to settle with environmental groups and establish numeric criteria for that state’s waters. Those criteria have been estimated to have a price tag of between $298 million and $4.7 billion to implement.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has estimated that EPA’s new regulations in that state will result in a loss of over 14,500 Florida agricultural sector jobs. Another study has calculated that Florida sewer bills would increase $570 to $990 per year to fund the capital projects required to achieve the new standard.