Florida is home to some of the most sensitive waterways and habitats in the world. Our public health, economy, and environment depend on the protection of Florida’s wetlands. For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has regulated waters and wetlands in Florida under the federal “404 Program”, in reference to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The CWA is fundamental to our health and well-being as a nation. It provides the policy vision to help us improve and maintain the physical, chemical, and biological properties of our most important life-sustaining resource: water.
The 404 Permit Program, as administered by the Corps, requires developers to go through substantial permitting procedures that require public input too. In order for a state to take over a federal program some crucial hurdles must be overcome. States must set environmental standards that meet or exceed federal standards, but they may not set lower standards. Moreover the state must prove it is fully staffed and ready to take over a federal program.
In early January 2021, the EPA unlawfully approved the State of Florida’s assumption of the 404 Program, removing direct oversight of the Corps. Calamity ensued. Protections for endangered and threatened species and public comment embedded within the 404 permitting review have been weakened. There remains confusion amongst the agencies and the public.
Miami Waterkeeper – along with our coalition of environmental groups – are fighting to restore these protections. Read our coalition’s full comment letter (Nov. 2020) for an in-depth timeline of Florida’s attempts to take over enforcement of Section 404(a) and our efforts to stop them.
To read more about this decision by the EPA and reasons we consider it unlawful, read the latest letter HERE. (Jan. 2021)
TAKE ACTION: Click here to urge your U.S. House Representatives to tell the federal government to take back protections of our wetlands.