Don’t by-pass the Army Corps

ERC tally bldg
Department of Environmental Protection building, Tallahassee. Photo by Jim Tatum.

 

This is a plan by developers to fast track their projects because it would remove the Army Corps from any oversight and let the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) run wild and fill wetlands at their whim and to pay off political cronies.

We have seen the true colors of the DEP when it comes down to environment or corporations and there is no contest.

Thanks to Cris Costello of Sierra Club who is circulating the following email.  Please follow the link to send an email to Secretary Noah Valenstein and ask him to delay this action so that the public may have the un-hurried opportunity to prevent this.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


open In: Don't by-pass the Army Corps | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Sierra Club Florida Chapter Banner with Bird on Fence
Send your message straight to FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein:
Stop the rush!
Take action now!
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) wants to assume control over the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland permitting program. That would remove the Army Corps of Engineers from reviewing the indeterminable number of projects that could dredge or fill in tens of thousands of acres of wetlands throughout Florida. Sierra Club has opposed this change from the beginning – see here.

Wetlands are critical to cleansing water, helping to recharge groundwater supplies, providing fish and wildlife habitat, and maintaining a natural infrastructure that helps store flood waters and provide resiliency in storm events. In the face of increased growth statewide, the protection of Florida’s wetlands and water resources needs the greatest possible attention; the state cannot be trusted to do it alone without federal involvement. Take action now!

But it gets worse. While so many people are fighting for their lives or worried about protecting their lives from COVID-19, it is callous and absurd to expect a normal public response to any agency action. And yet, FDEP is rushing forward replacing public hearings with webinars and proceeding with public comment periods when the assumption of 404 permitting is as far from urgent or essential as you can get.

Webinars may be helpful when paired with public hearings, providing access for those unable to travel who have the capability and access to use the technology, but they are not equivalent or interchangeable. To expect the public to submit timely public comments during the time of the COVID-19 threat is madness – send your message now!

The obviously unnecessary “rush” on the assumption of 404 permitting by FDEP is madness with a very certain method.  What do permit applicants (developers/miners/drillers) want more than anything? They want a faster, less thorough vetting process and less, not more, public comment. Continuing to process the assumption change of 404 permitting during this time will get the applicants exactly what they wish.  

A diminished stakeholder/public hearing process is contrary to our interests in protecting the environment.  Don’t stand for it!

Thank you for everything you do for the environment,
Cris Costello
Senior Organizing Manager
Sierra Club Florida Chapter
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Crowd at public hearing with "Buy the Land" signs
An actual public hearing — this is what democracy looks like
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