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
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
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
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. …