Restore federal protections for Florida’s wetlands


Supporters spoke up in this action

Delivery to the Environmental Protection Agency

Action ended on February 16, 2024

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We’re grateful for your support. In February 2024, a federal court ruled in favor of environmental groups, determining that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) violated federal law when they greenlit Florida’s takeover of the Clean Water Act wetlands permitting program.

What Was At Stake

We need your help to protect some of the most important wetlands in America. Florida wetlands are vitally important: They store excess water after heavy rains. They serve as protective buffers against intense storms. They naturally restore water quality and filter the agricultural and stormwater runoff which fuels toxic algae outbreaks. They support Florida tribes’ cultures and customs. Countless Florida species, many of them endangered, rely on wetlands to support the web of life. And wetlands support the state’s tourism and fishing industries.

But in December 2020, the Trump Administration gave away the store by giving Florida authority over the federal wetland permitting program, even though Florida only asked for it at developers’ request and even though Florida’s program doesn’t meet federal standards. At the same time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made it easier for developers to harm endangered and threatened species in Florida without repercussions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave away its ability to protect some important federal waters and wetlands in Florida by turning those over to the state, too.

We can’t let Florida’s precious wetlands — protected under the Clean Water Act — be in the hands of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection — an agency that hasn’t adequately enforced the environmental protection laws it is currently responsible for, and definitely can’t be counted on running a federal program that’s critical for ensuring the health of our wetlands and the health of the state of Florida.

Tell EPA to rescind its approval of Florida’s wetland permitting program.

Aerial view of the Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida on October 13, 2021.
Aerial view of the Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida on October 13, 2021. (Saul Martinez for Earthjustice)

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention. Read more.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue.

Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court. Read more.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment. Read more.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.