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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014
Editorials

Dump fertilizer scheme

Published:

It didn’t take long for Hillsborough Rep. Jake Raburn to take to Tallahassee’s know-it-all ways.

The 28-year-old rookie lawmaker is behind a scheme that would handcuff local governments’ ability to prevent water pollution.

It is a typical ploy of the Legislature, where lobbyists frequently seek to bypass local regulations they don’t like.

In this case, Raburn is backing an amendment that would prevent local governments from adopting rainy-season fertilizer bans for three years while a task force studies fertilizer rules and proposes a state standard.

Raburn would stack the deck for opponents of fertilizer controls, requiring the task force to include representatives of the fertilizer, pest control, golf course and landscape industries.

The intent clearly is to ensure the state adopts flimsy standards.

Many coastal communities, including Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg, already have adopted meaningful fertilizer ordinances as an economical way to cut nitrogen pollution, the major source of water pollution in Florida.

Much of the nitrogen pollution comes from rainwater washing fertilizers off lawns into waterways, where it can result in cloudy water, dying sea grasses, algae blooms and fish kills.

Such pollution can result in costly environmental fines and cleanup bills that run in the millions, so fertilizer ordinances that limit or ban fertilizing residential lawns during rainy months make economic sense — at least for some communities.

The ordinances exempt golf courses, theme parks, agricultural operations and community gardens. The cities that have adopted them have had no problems.

Yet Raburn and busybody lawmakers, for the sake of special interests, would put an end to a cheap, effective local solution. Raburn’s fertilizer maneuver should be jettisoned.

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