EPA regional chief, responding to critics, says pollution prevention is good investment

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U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming said Friday that investing in clean water is better than paying more to clean up dirty water and fight harmful algal blooms.

She held introductory meetings with state and local officials in Tallahassee amid concerns about new federal water quality standards. Those proposed federal limits on nitrogen and phosphorus face objections from agriculture and industry groups and wastewater and storm water utilities.

Opposition groups say the standards will cost the state billions of dollars when implementation begins in 2012. Asked by a reporter to respond to the critics, Fleming said the standards are needed to address decreasing property values from harmful algal blooms.

“What we proposed was a predictable way to set a minimum standard to address that problem — do it in a way that is cost effective,” Fleming said. “We think that certainly being able to make some investments on the front end as opposed to paying costly cleanup costs on the back end is certainly something we want (to do).”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.