Florida DEP challenges federal court over environmental permitting rights

by | Apr 26, 2024

Florida is appealing a federal court ruling that revoked its authority to manage environmental permitting for dredging and filling activities under the State 404 Program, seeking to correct alleged legal errors and continue processing over 1,000 pending applications during the appeals process.

Florida is appealing a federal court decision that stripped it of the authority to manage environmental permitting for waterways and wetlands. The action follows a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling that invalidated the state’s control over the State 404 Program, which regulates dredging and filling activities.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) communicated in an agency memorandum that it is seeking to overturn this decision at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit under the argument that the ruling contains legal errors and has also requested a stay that would allow it to continue processing over 1,000 pending permit applications while the appeal is considered.

“The Florida Department Environmental Protection looks forward to making its case on appeal to defend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Florida’s 404 Permitting Program and overturn the lower court’s legal errors,” the agency stated. “DEP is also seeking a stay pending the appeal process to limit the disruption to the more than 1,000 State 404 permit applications that were pending. Beyond just large-scale development projects, the court’s decision directly impedes efforts to review and authorize a wide range of 404 permit applications that benefit the environment, the economy and the public.”

The State 404 Program in Florida, established under the Clean Water Act, enables the state to oversee dredge and fill permitting in its waters, a role traditionally held by the federal government. The program integrates with the state’s existing Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) system to speed up approvals for various development and environmental projects.

Recently, the program faced a legal hurdle in February when a federal court temporarily revoked the DEP’s authority to issue permits, effectively pausing the program.


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