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Protect Florida’s wetlands

962
Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to the Environmental Protection Agency

Action Ended On

November 2, 2020

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action. The Environmental Protection Agency will now review your comments before proceeding. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

What was at Stake

We raised the alarm in April about the DeSantis administration’s effort to appease developers by taking over wetland permitting from the federal government. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering the proposal — and we have until November 2nd to tell them this plan does not serve the public interest.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) plan to fast-track wetlands permitting for construction projects that will degrade and ruin Florida’s natural landscape.

Florida is home to the largest wetland ecosystem in the lower 48. Wetlands store excess water after heavy rainfall and serve as protective buffers against intense storms. Wetlands naturally restore water quality and treat the agricultural and stormwater runoff which fuels toxic algae blooms.

This proposed plan allows the state to formally take over the longstanding federal program that protects marshes, cypress forests, ponds, and other wetlands under the Clean Water Act. This would make it much harder to protect our precious water resources.

The DEP doesn’t have the proper capacity to take over the wetlands permitting that has been run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for decades. It can’t even manage to enforce the environmental laws already under its purview.

Florida’s record of wetlands protection is already abysmal — now is not the time for the state to take on even more responsibility.

Our wetlands are critically important to our quality of life and to the state’s economic well-being: The tourism and fishing industries contribute tens of billions of dollars to Florida’s economy and depend on healthy wetlands. And countless species in Florida, many of them endangered, rely on wetland ecosystems to support the web of life. It is deeply troubling for the state to proceed with this public comment deadline in the midst of a pandemic, when families are focused on their health, communities, and jobs. 

Tell the EPA to block the DeSantis’ administration takeover of the federal wetlands permitting program. The vitality of the largest wetland ecosystem in the lower 48 is at stake, and the communities that rely on its natural resources are not for sale.

Kayaking through the Everglades.
Blend Images / PBNJ Productions

Kayaking through the Everglades. Florida’s tourism and fishing industries — which contribute tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy — would be at risk, because they depend on healthy wetland ecosystems.

Your Actions Matter

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

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You level the playing field.

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

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. 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.

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.

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 more 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.