Speak up for Florida’s wetlands

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Speak up for Florida’s wetlands

From small ponds and marshes to the expansive Florida Everglades, wetlands are vital to Florida’s environment and our economy. They store and clean freshwater, replenish our drinking water supply, and help make us more resilient to flooding and storms. Development and urban sprawl have destroyed more than half of Florida’s wetlands, which is more by acre than any other state. As Florida’s population continues to grow, our existing wetlands are under attack. Your help is needed now. 

As a result of legislation passed in 2018 by state lawmakers, the DeSantis administration is moving forward with efforts to take over federal wetland permitting authority. If this move is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it will reduce our existing environmental safeguards, making it easier for developers, road builders, and special interests to fill and destroy our wetlands. Federal review ensures protection for critically important wetlands and endangered wildlife.

Both state and federal wetlands protections are necessary to protect our natural resources from local political pressure and special interests. 

Florida’s waters and wetlands are already suffering. The Department is already failing to fully protect our waters, having experienced staffing and budget cuts over the last decade and with no plan in sight to remedy that problem. Therefore, now is not the time to give the Department this additional critical oversight responsibility for our wetlands. 

You can help by standing up for our wetlands. Submit a public comment to EPA and tell them that they should deny the request and give our wetlands the protections they deserve! 

We encourage you to add your own message to the below public comment email:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to request that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deny the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (Department) request to take over wetlands permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I am concerned that delegating authority under section 404 of the Clean Water Act to the State of Florida will result in fast-tracking permits for developers and powerful special interests. 

Florida’s wetlands are vital to our environment and economy. They store and clean freshwater, replenish our drinking water supply, and bolster our resilience against climate change, flooding, and storms. The Department’s request to assume 404 permitting authority would add additional regulatory burden to an agency that is already under-resourced and failing to meet its current responsibilities. For example, the Department is sorely behind on the development of protections for impaired waterbodies across the state. Research has also shown that the Department’s current strategies for addressing stormwater and agriculture runoff are not meeting their intended pollution reduction goals. 

The Department’s request for assumption of Section 404 authority should be denied. Undertaking this expansive responsibility is not feasible for the State of Florida at this time. I urge you to deny the Department’s request and maintain the federal protections and resources that Florida’s wetlands and wildlife depend on. Thank you for your consideration.

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