Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (25th District of FLORIDA)
Dec 17, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Today, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, and members of the Florida delegation as they announced that Florida is the first state in more than 25 years to apply for and receive approval to implement a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 program—formally transferring permitting authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to the State of Florida for a broad range of water resources within the State.
“Today’s announcement is a tremendous accomplishment for Florida, especially as we continue our Everglades restoration efforts,” said U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). “Allowing the state to take over the 404 permitting process will significantly streamline restoration projects, while still protecting the greater environment. I thank Administrator Wheeler and Regional Administrator Walker, as well as all the other key players who worked diligently to make this happen. I have no doubt that we will see the benefits of this decision for years to come.”
“A considerable amount of effort has gone into Florida’s assumption of the Clean Water Act 404 program,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Federal authorities don’t delegate this type of permit often, but Florida has, beyond question one of the greatest environmental records of any state, and I couldn’t be happier that Florida has shown it can meet the strict national standards EPA sets to protect human health and the environment.”
“After a rigorous review, analysis and coordination process, EPA is pleased that the state of Florida will assume responsibility of its Clean Water Act Section 404 program,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “This approval is truly a reflection of the high-level scientific and regulatory expertise of the environmental professionals at the state, federal and tribal levels who ensured a legally and technically sound program. This monumental milestone will allow Florida to administer this program to best fit enhanced protection of its natural resources.”
“Florida continues to be a pioneer of environmental protection. This is a historic moment for our agency and our state,” said FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We appreciate EPA’s stringent, public review and approval of DEP’s assumption of this program. Our waters and wetlands are critical to our economy and way of life in Florida. As such, it is important for the state to be in charge and take the lead in their protection. We are pleased that with the assumption, Florida scientists and permitters will now be accountable for state and federal wetlands permits. DEP staff know the state’s resources best and have the expertise to ensure their protection.”