Debate Over Faster Environmental-Permitting

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By Mike Vasilinda
June 28th, 2013

Employees who speed up environmental permitting could be eligible for bonuses. The plan was approved by a legislative commission today, environmentalists are crying foul.

Building a dock, a whole marina, or filling in wet lands all require permits from the State Department of Environmental Protection. Now the agency wants to give bonuses to one of every eight regulatory employees. The bonuses would be based on feedback from applicants and how fast permits are issued. Environmentalists are crying foul. “I mean really we would like to see performance evaluated based on success and protecting our resources not just in speed,” says Julie Waithmell FL. Audubon Society

Those who do business with the agency say its focus has shifted to creating jobs at the expense of protecting the environment. The worry is the bonuses will result in projects not getting the proper scrutiny and that those employees who are doing a good job will be seen as uncooperative.

Rep. Mark Pafford argues that speeding up permits won’t be good for the state in the long run. ”And then when you basically change the DNA of a agency that’s set up to protect the environment you’d have serious problems,” says Rep. Mark Pafford D-Palm Beach. A legislative panel signed off on the half million dollar bonus plan Friday.

Deputy Secretary Jeff LIttlejohn says the agency can still do its job without being an adversary. “We haven’t lowered any expectations at all, this is a difference in our approach. We’re working with Florida citizens and business and not trying to take an adversarial approach to either permitting or compliance,” says Deputy Secretary Littlejohn. The bonuses will be distributed in August.

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