Recently, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) announced its intent to assume the federal authority of Clean Water Act permits related to dredging and filling (Section 404). This means that our wetland and marine ecosystems could be at risk.
(Virginia Key Wetlands that could be impacted by this change in Clean Water Act authority. Photo credit: Greg Clark)
Florida's coastal wetlands and waterways produce direct, multi-bottom line benefits for our economy and environment. Section 404 authority under the Clean Water Act has traditionally been left to the federal government to ensure strict scrutiny of attempts to dredge and fill Waters of the United States. FDEP now wants to take that authority -- something only two other states in the union have done. FDEP's rationale? Federal oversight slows down projects, is duplicative, and creates red tape. Our position? Federal oversight is absolutely necessary for critical ecosystems like wetlands. Federal expertise is essential for this level of review and should not be given to the state which is already behind in their existing duties. We believe FDEP's attempt to assume authority is improper and does not adequately protect our wetlands and waterways.
Action Alert! We need your voice!
We need you to let FDEP know that you oppose their attempt to assume Clean Water Act Dredge & Fill (Section 404) authority.
Copy and paste the letter below and email it to [email protected] by midnight on April 30th, 2020.
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to oppose FDEP's rulemaking to assume Section 404 Clean Water Act authority from the federal government. Florida's waterways are uniquely connected to our public health, our economy, and our way of life.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires permits for the discharge of dredge and fill material into Waters of the United States, including wetlands. Florida's waterways and wetland areas are fragile and require the highest level of scrutiny before permitting.
I believe that the federal government, not FDEP, has the necessary expertise and resources to continue to oversee this permitting program - a reason why 48 states have left this authority to the federal government.
FDEP's attempts to assume this authority would add additional regulatory burden to the agency, which is already under-resourced for its current responsibilities. FDEP provides no explanation as to how they would fund this expansive undertaking. Furthermore, I feel this change does not adequately protect historic or culturally important places - including those of tribal significance.
Additionally, I do not think this rulemaking has been inclusive for public participation. Webinars and phone conferences are inadequate and do not replace true in-person public hearings. Moreover, FDEP moving forward with this rulemaking at a time of international crisis due to COVID-19 is deeply inappropriate. At a minimum, FDEP should suspend the rulemaking process until stay at home orders are lifted.
I do not support FDEP's attempts to assume Section 404 authority. I feel this will be a costly move for our state government, it would not adequately protect water resources, and it does not consider increased liability associated with shifts in this authority.
Ready to get more involved?
Due to requests from the public, FDEP has agreed to hold two additional public hearings by telephone. Attend one of the telephone conferences below and give a verbal public comment expressing your opposition to this rulemaking!
Friday, April 24th at 9 AM EST
Monday, April 27th, at 9 AM EST
Parties may attend the hearings by telephone by calling: 1-888-585-9008, and entering conference room number 427-093-427.
Want to learn more?
Click HERE to read the full Waterkeepers Florida comment letter or read about our previous work on Section 404 of the Clean Water Act HERE.
Click HERE to view our recent request for a suspension of rulemaking.