The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association (FCA) have filed a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination letter and final rule establishing numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams and springs.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee. According to NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies, the groups are asking the court to do two things.

“First, we ask the court to set aside and hold unlawful the letter and rule because they are arbitrary, capricious, go beyond EPA’s statutory authority and are in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” said Thies. “Secondly, we ask the court to set aside the letter and rule and stop EPA from further action on both due to the irreparable harm Florida agricultural producers will suffer if the agency’s actions are not stopped.”

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), each state must develop water quality standards that relate to the designated uses the state chooses for its waters.

In a review of its water quality standards, Florida determined on its own that numeric criteria would be appropriate.

On Sept. 28, 2007, EPA approved Florida’s revised Numeric Nutrient Criteria Development Plan. Environmentalists then sued EPA for failure to develop new water quality standards for Florida. EPA initially contested the argument. However, in a December 2008 memo, EPA staff caved to the environmentalists, laying the foundation for EPA to establish numeric nutrient criteria in Florida.