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Florida's coastal wetlands and waterways produce direct, multi-bottom line benefits for our economy and environment. Nearly half of Florida's wetlands have already been destroyed due to development and sprawl — and the State of Florida now wants to make that destruction even easier. This summer, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for permission to take control over wetland permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. If approved, many of our wetlands and waterways would lose an additional layer of oversight and protection. Florida's waters are already suffering, due, in part, to the failure of FDEP to enforce existing regulations and hold polluters accountable. With FDEP already failing to protect our waters, we cannot now give them this additional critical oversight responsibility for our wetlands. The EPA should reject FDEP's request to assume wetland permitting authority to protect our most vulnerable waterways and wildlife.

Action Alert! We need your voice!

We need you to let EPA know that you oppose FDEP's attempt to assume Clean Water Act Section 404 authority.

Send an email to Kelly Laycock at 404Assumption-FL@epa.gov by November 2, 2020. Copy and paste the sample email below or wite your own!

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to oppose FDEP's request 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 an additional regulatory burden to the agency, which is already under-resourced for its current responsibilities. For example, FDEP is sorely behind on the development of TMDLs and BMAPs for impaired waterbodies across the state, research has proven that BMPs for stormwater and agriculture are not meeting their intended pollution reduction goals, and there are sites across the state that have not had consistent water quality testing in years. 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.

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. I urge you to reject FDEP's assumption application package to protect our wetlands and wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]