ICYMI: Government Officials and Environmental Stakeholders Applaud DEP for Reaching Major Milestone in Wetland Protection

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@FloridaDEP.gov


Government Officials and Environmental Stakeholders Applaud DEP for Major Milestone in Wetland Protection  


WASHINGTON, D.C.  Following the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) announcement that the state has assumed the 404 program, government leaders and environmental stakeholders took to social media to express their support.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein tweeted, “A monumental win for Florida’s environment – today, @EPA approved the transfer of section 404 permitting to Florida, marking a historic moment for the state & for @FLDEPNews @EPASoutheast. Florida’s waters & wetlands are critical to our way of life. The state’s experts will lead the way to ensure the protection of our precious natural resources. Thank you @EPA for your diligent review & approval for this assumption. Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for your support & dedication throughout this process & your commitment to Florida’s environment.”

Secretary Valenstein’s full address from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency news conference is available. 

Eric Eikenberg, chief executive officer of The Everglades Foundation, said, “The state of Florida’s assumption of Section 404 permitting should enable Everglades restoration to proceed with the sense of urgency it deserves while maintaining the high level of review and protection required by the Clean Water Act. We expect the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to exercise its new authority in a manner that protects Florida’s precious and diminishing wetland resources. Wetlands safeguard Florida communities from the effects of climate change, provide tremendous water quality benefits, support fish and wildlife habitat, and mitigate against flooding.” 

Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy, said, “The expeditious restoration of our natural systems is a top priority for the state and The Nature Conservancy. The state’s assumption of the federal dredge and fill permitting program under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act is a positive development that we hope will result in more timely decisions by staff with specific expertise in evaluating Florida’s unique wetland systems. Considering most environmental restoration projects require a 404 permit, adoption of the permitting program should provide much needed benefits to Florida’s natural systems and its residents.” 

Steven Folsom, PE, chair of the Conservation and Environmental Quality Committee, Florida Engineering Society, said, This is great news for our state. Florida engineers work closely with the scientists at DEP, and we believe they possess the technical expertise and local knowledge of Florida's water resources and needs. In addition to the benefits of this expertise, a comprehensive state-run program will provide regulatory efficiencies and reduce delays for critical restoration and infrastructure projects while providing stringent protection of Florida’s natural resources.”

Christopher Emmanuel, director of Infrastructure and Governance Policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, tweeted, “This is a big win for Florida. Thank you Secretary Valenstein and the whole team at @FLDEPNews for your tireless efforts to make this happen.”

Jeff Beal, regional biologist with Ducks Unlimited in Florida, said, “The restoration of our freshwater and brackish wetlands and associated habitats is paramount to continuing Florida’s legacy of promoting good stewardship of these key habitats for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people. Ducks Unlimited works across the nation with state and federal partners to conserve and restore wetlands and is supportive of this effort in Florida because it could help expedite restoration projects by allowing us to work more closely with state agencies such as DEP that have demonstrated the ability to handle streamlined administration for specific purposes.” 

David Saul Acosta, writer at the American Conservation Commission and Student Sustainability Leader at Harvard University, tweeted, “A win for Florida’s environment. As a state, we must have the power and rights to protect our environment and do so in a manner that honors the demands and needs of Florida’s critical stakeholders.”  

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune tweeted, “Congratulations to Florida on a very wise move. @EPAAWheeler says it best that this rightly gives the state control over its wetlands 'rather than regulators in Washington.' Definitely plan to learn from Florida's actions that's for sure #TGDL.” 

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Mary Neumayr said, “Today’s historic announcement is a testament to what can be accomplished through efficient coordination across all levels of government, and I applaud @EPA, the State of Florida, @Interior and @USACEHQ on this achievement.”

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tweeted, Today’s action is a great milestone for cooperative federalism. I commend @EPAAWheeler who led this effort and all who worked so hard to get to this point.”  

Ryan Fisher, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), said, The Army is pleased to support the State of Florida in its effort to balance environmental protection with economic development.”   

U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tweeted“Florida has, beyond question, one of the greatest environmental records of any state, and I couldn’t be happier that Florida has shown it can meet the strict national standards EPA sets to protect human health and the environment.”  

U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida tweeted, “This designation by the @EPA is great news for Florida, giving us the ability to make the best decisions for our environment, with input from the public and environmental stakeholders. I will always work to make sure our environment is protected for generations to come.”  

U.S. Representative Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida's 25th District tweeted, Allowing #FL to take over the 404 permitting process will significantly streamline restoration projects, while protecting the greater environment. I thank @EPAAWheeler  & Regional Administrator Walker, as well as all the other key players who worked diligently to make this happen. 

U.S. Representative Greg Steube of Florida’s 17th District tweeted,Honored to join my colleagues and @EPAAWheeler to celebrate a historic win for Florida today! With our approval for the CWA Section 404 program, we will now be able to streamline permitting processes and make decisions best suited for our economic and environmental interests.” 

Florida Representative Toby Overdorf of the 83rd District said, “Absolutely thrilled at this news. From the beginning with @HollyRaschein to the signing by @EPA  this is a great day for the future of restoration projects in the state of Florida.”