Florida Association of Counties visits DC

Press Release: Last week Florida Association of Counties President-Elect Doug Smith (Martin County) and Executive Director Chris Holley met with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to discuss concerns over oil spill claims.

While in Washington, FAC also met with Representative Steve Southerland and Senator Bill Nelson’s office and appreciate their commitment to helping counties better partner with the federal government in oil spill recovery.

“Local governments invested tax dollars to protect and clean up our beaches during the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill,” said FAC Executive Director Chris Holley, “Yet counties continue to be left out of the important conversations and decisions on the recovery of our community’s environment and economy.”

At EPA, Administrator Jackson committed to forming a Gulf Coast Restoration Workgroup of local officials. The workgroup will interface with the federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force that she chairs and also with the EPA Local Government Advisory Committee. The National Association of Counties selected the following individuals to serve on the workgroup: Charlotte Randolph (LA), John Young (LA), Connie Rockco (MS), Mike Mangum (MS), Charles Gruber (AL), Merceria Ludgood (AL), Grover Robinson (FL) and Bill Williams (FL).

Administrator Jackson also committed to assisting Florida communities in finding a federal advocate for local government claims.

Earlier this month, FAC along with the Florida League of Cities and Florida School Boards Association Joint Oil Spill Task Force forwarded a completed list of recommendations regarding the oil spill response and recovery.

The recommendations were:
1. Establishing federal oversight in the government claims process
2. Establishing a Gulf Coast Recovery Fund for recovery projects
3. Amending federal law and regulations to provide more local control in the response process
4. Appointing federal government representatives to the Gulf Coast Restoration Task Force
5. Developing a regional recovery plan for the seven coastal counties impacted by the spill.

FAC will continue its dialogue next week in Atlanta with the EPA Regional IV Director Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming.

FAC leadership also addressed their concerns over the rules related to water numeric nutrient criteria. The rules recently imposed by the EPA are not based in sound science and will cost Florida’s taxpayers billions of dollars impacting economic recovery.

“Florida has led the way in restoring our waterways and in their commitment to water quality.” said President Elect and Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith, “Yet EPA has overreached in their authority and created rules that are not based in sound science, but on unrealistic demands.”