After a two -week hearing earlier this year, the ALJ compared the scientific testimony proffered by Florida and the Petitioners, noting that the nutrient rules "were supported by expert testimony, reports, graphs and data summaries generated by investigations that involved many scientists focused on the specific objective of developing nutrient criteria. .. In contrast, petitioners’ position was usually supported only by expert opinions that were based on data collected for different purposes and not presented or made a part of the record."
What’s next ? Florida has expressed its intention to notify U.S. EPA of the ALJ’s ruling this week. EPA will reportedly have 60 days to approve the state rules and then withdraw the federal rule for the Florida’s rules to take effect. In a written statement issued last Thursday, FDEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr., noted that FDEP looks forward to getting the rules on the books as soon as possible. However, David Guest, an attorney for the petitioning environmental groups, is reported to have stated that his clients have the option of challenging the federal approval of the state‘s rules. Guest also suggested that federal approval by EPA may not occur due to "public health" considerations.