The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the administrative rule challenge case (DOAH Case Nos. 11-6137RP and 12-0157RP) concerning the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Numeric Nutrient Criteria sided with the DEP and against the Petitioner environmental groups. These groups had challenged both the existing nutrient rules and the proposed rules.
In the Final Order, ALJ Bram Canter found that the DEP “proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed nutrient criteria for lakes, springs and streams are reasonably designed to prevent pollution and protect their designated uses.” The ALJ made similar conclusions regarding the DEP’s nutrient criteria for four estuaries – Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, the Caloosahatchee River/Ten Thousand Islands, and the Florida Keys.
The ALJ’s Order determined that:
- Petitioners failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the narrative nutrient criterion is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.
- The DEP proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed rules are not invalid exercises of delegated legislative authority.
Pending an appeal, this allows the state rules to go before the U.S. EPA for approval.
In case you are interested, a copy of the Final Order is attached here - DOAH Final Order – Numeric Nutrient Criteria Rule Challenge