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McCollum sues the feds over new water rules

Flanked by the incoming attorney general and incoming agriculture commission, Attorney General Bill McCollum announced Tuesday that the state is suing the federal government for imposing an "unfair" and "capricious" water quality rule.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Pensacola, alleges that the rule by the federal Environmental Protection Agency is "not based on scientifically sound methodology" and were adopted "just to settle a lawsuit" by environmental groups and citizens.

Attorney General-elect Pam Bondi and the newly-elected Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said they will continue to lawsuit because they view the newly announced rules a violation of Florida's rights.

The federal government announced in November new water pollution standards that set specific numeric caps on pollutant levels for Florida lakes and rivers. Earthjustice attorney David Guest, who filed the original lawsuit against the federal government for failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act, said the challenged by the Republican attorney general on behalf of landowners and agricultural interests was expected.

"The lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer dollars,'' Guest said in a statement. "Instead of protecting public health, the state is usuing our tax dollars to side with polluters."

He said that the standards are designed to keep "poorly treated sewage, fertilizer and animal waste out of public waters."

But Putnam, and current Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, said that the new rules will be too expensive.

"It's going to cost the taxpayerse of this state billions and billions,'' Bronson said. He said the rules appeared to single out Florida for toughter water quality standards than other state and were based on inaccurate science.

The suit was filed in the same court that McCollum hand selected for another lawsuit against the federal government, the state's challenge to the federal health care reform plan.