Petition Closed

For the past year EPA has continuously ignored a serious violation of the Clean Water Act and its implementation in Florida. Specifically, EPA has been asked by way of a previous petition filed on February 23, 2011, by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Florida Clean Water Network (FCWN) to investigate allegations that Herschel T. Vinyard, Secretary of the Florida, Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has a conflict of interest in matters concerning the administration of the Clean Water Act in Florida. This conflict of interest arises because of Secretary Vinyard’s prior employment at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, a regulated entity under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. The Clean Water Act (and internal legal opinions of EPA’s lawyers agree) is clear that conflicts of interest such as this are not allowed. Yet, Secretary Vinyard continues to serve as the head of the FDEP all the while being involved with (1) the development of a narrative nutrient criteria rule (2) the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads throughout Florida and (3) permitting and enforcement decisions pertaining to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Secretary Vinyard’s continued involvement in Clean Water Act issues compromises the integrity of the program in Florida, yet EPA continues to look the other way.

 

 

Letter to
Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles
Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes-Fleming
Administrator, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Administrator Lisa Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Remove Florida DEP Secretary Vinyard

Dear Administrator Jackson:

For the past year your agency has continuously ignored a serious violation of the Clean Water Act and it’s implementation in Florida. Specifically, EPA has been asked by way of a petition filed on February 23, 2011, by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Florida Clean Water Network (FCWN) to investigate allegations that Herschel T. Vinyard, Secretary of the Florida, Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has a conflict of interest in matters concerning the administration of the Clean Water Act in Florida. This conflict of interest arises because of Secretary Vinyard’s prior employment at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, a regulated entity under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

As grounds for the petition, PEER and the FCWN alleged that the appointment of Herschel T. Vinyard as Secretary of FDEP violates § 304(i) of the Clean Water Act, which expressly prohibits persons employed by regulated dischargers from overseeing state agencies that administer NPDES permitting for a two year period after leaving their regulated employer.

Incredibly, upon learning of the petition filed with EPA, Secretary Vinyard attempted to deny association with his prior employer, despite his prior assertions to the contrary, under oath, to the Florida Legislature at a time that he was applying to become the DEP Secretary.

EPA Region 4 has known the facts necessary to render a decision in this matter since at least June 3, 2011. Yet, for reasons as yet unknown, the Region refuses to act. Meanwhile, Secretary Vinyard remains in office and continues to administer the Clean Water Act. For example, he is involved in (1) the development of a narrative nutrient criteria rule (2) the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads throughout Florida and (3) permitting and enforcement decisions pertaining to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Because of EPA Region 4’s delays in the decision-making process Secretary Vinyard has already served one year in office in violation of the Clean Water Act. By this letter I am asking Administrator Jackson to immediately order Secretary Vinyard to recuse himself from direct and indirect involvement in all matters associated with Florida’s administration of the Clean Water Act.

Sincerely,


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Sincerely,