Some Worried about Aftermath of Pollution Law

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Some lawyers say a bill that Gov. Lawton Chiles

allowed to become law yesterday could poke a big hole in

Jacksonville's air-quality regulations.

Other lawyers say not to worry.

At worst, city officials said, all businesses north of the St.

Johns River will be exempted from future changes in pollution

regulations.

At best, they said, existing businesses will not be affected

but those under construction north of the river will be exempt

from any changes while they are being built.

It may be up to the courts to decide the correct interpretation

of the new law.

"We're going to proceed the way we always have unless we are

challenged," said Ginny Myrick, the city's director of

legislative affairs.

Rep. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, said the confusion was an

example of what happens when a one-page bill designed to apply

to one Clay County mine is enlarged to 22 pages through a series

of unrelated amendments.

"I have no clue what it does," Wise said. "It was originally

designed as a real short little bill and became a monster."

The threat to pollution control rules came in an amendment that

was attached to a bill originally designed to exempt RGC Mineral

Mines in southern Clay and northern Putnam counties from the

necessity of having an expensive development of regional impact

study done.

Sen. George Kirkpatrick, D-Gainesville, sponsored an amendment

that would protect a Florida Rock Industries cement plant in

Alachua County from the changes in local pollution rules while

it was under construction.

The $100 million plant has been politically controversial, and

county officials have considered creating new air pollution laws

that would affect the plant's operation.

RULE SNARES DUVAL

Duval and other North Florida counties were caught up in the

legislation when Kirkpatrick made the exemption apply to

businesses north of the Cross-Florida Greenway, which follows

the route of the defunct Cross-Florida Barge Canal.

Businesses north of the Greenway that were permitted and under

construction on May 1 are exempted from changes in the local

pollution regulations under the new law.

In Jacksonville, the Greenway route follows the St. Johns

River, so businesses north of the river would be exempt while

those south of it would not.

The Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board wrote Chiles

urging a veto.

"We find that HB 1073 will seriously abridge our ability to

address local problems locally," board Chairman M. …