Tallahassee, Florida- August 7, 2012
As part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency in rulemaking, the state is hosting webinars and an online discussion forum where citizens can engage directly with staff on the development of a statewide Environmental Resource Permit (ERP). The final workshop will take place on Thursday, Aug. 16.
For the first time, stakeholders can communicate, discuss, comment and make suggestions in an online open discussion forum and participate in workshops via webinar. By utilizing “today’s technology” the department hopes to provide a higher level of service, expand access and engage more stakeholders to develop a better quality rule.
“This allows us to reach a larger more diverse audience at one time,” said Tim Rach, Chief of the Bureau of Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources. “The goal is to expedite the (rule making) process and answer questions from across the state.”
More than 400 participants engaged in the first two webinar workshops, broadcasted on July 26 and Aug. 7. “It is a daunting task and this is a good way to bring everything together,” said participant, Mr. Thomas Herbert, Ph.D.,P.G.
An ERP is required before beginning any construction activity or operation that would affect wetlands and other surface waters or contribute to water pollution. The permit process exists to protect Florida’s lakes and streams, wetlands and other surface waters from stormwater pollution, flooding and any other environmental risk factors.
On April 14, 2012, Governor Rick Scott signed legislation granting the Department the authority to create one statewide rule for the ERP program after a unanimous vote by the legislature. Making the program easier for everyone to understand and apply what is expected during the ERP regulatory process will improve the consistency in permitting decisions.
The workshops can be viewed via webinar at select Department locations and water management district offices. Recorded presentations can be viewed at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/swerp/index.htm.