Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

DEP survey on permitting costs concerns environmentalists

For four months, Florida's environmental regulators have been asking businesses and local governments how much their rules are costing.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has been sending out surveys asking questions like, "What kinds of costs did you incur applying for your industrial wastewater permit?" and, "Would you be required to incur the costs … if not for the permit application and compliance requirements?"

"I've never seen a survey like this before," said Vicki Tschinkel, who ran the DEP's predecessor, the Department of Environmental Regulation, from 1981 to 1987 and now is on the board of 1,000 Friends of Florida.

Florida environmentalists are alarmed by the survey's focus on tabulating the cost of 15 permits that are supposed to protect the environment.

"It looks over the top, like they're saying, 'Give us reasons to reduce regulations in Florida,' " said Charles Lee, director of advocacy for Audubon Florida.

The survey says the DEP is asking these questions because the agency "wishes to better understand the economic impacts our regulations have on permit and license holders."

Actually, the goal is aimed more toward the future, explained DEP press secretary Patrick Gillespie. Under state law, he said, "any time any agency proposes a rule change, it has to calculate whether the proposed rule would have a cost attached to it."

But it can be hard to calculate the cost without knowing the price tag of the current rules, he said.

"The department sent out the survey to regulated businesses to try to collect data for any future proposed rule changes," Gillespie said.

A Tampa Bay Times request to see the results of the survey so far did not yield the names of respondents, but the DEP spreadsheet did show the numbers in various categories.

Since the surveys began going out in August, 72 responses have come back to the DEP. Twenty-five replies came from businesses, 14 from individuals, 17 from counties, seven from cities and nine from other government agencies.

Fifty of them reported that they had obtained permits from the DEP, 43 had gotten state permits from one of the five water management districts, and 16 had gotten permits from city or county governments.

Three types of permits were the most common: Eleven said they had gotten consumptive-use permits for pumping water from the aquifer; 23 said they had received environmental resource permits, issued for filling in wetlands or building docks; and 23 got permits for dealing with stormwater runoff.

Of the 11 that got consumptive-use permits, three identified themselves as power plant owners, and eight said they had spent more than $10,000 fulfilling all the requirements for the permit.

Of the 23 that obtained an environmental resource permit, 17 said they had spent more than $10,000 and five said they had spent more than $5,000. A majority of those who responded to the survey said they wouldn't have spent that much money — on consultants, engineering, biological monitoring and other expenses — if it hadn't been for the permit.

The survey does not ask any questions about the results of those permits, prompting Lee to say, "It suggests a fixation on something that's not part of keeping Florida green."

Craig Pittman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @craigtimes.

DEP survey on permitting costs concerns environmentalists 12/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl


    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Deandre Gilmore is charged in the death of his girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]
  3. Editorial: Trump uses Americans' health care as bargaining chip


    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself. The president's unilateral actions are aimed at driving up premiums, steering healthy people away from the federal marketplace and ensuring his inaccurate description of the law as a …

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself.
  4. Port Richey fire chief charged with DUI, hitting a cop in the face


    PORT RICHEY — The Port Richey fire chief crashed a motorcycle, showed signs of impairment and hit a New Port Richey police officer in the face after being taken to the hospital Sunday night, according to a police report.

    A screenshot from the web site of Little Corona's Cigar Lounge, owned by Port Richey Fire Chief Timothy Fussell, who was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and battery on a law enforcement officer Sunday night.
  5. Trump: Cuba 'is responsible' for attacks on U.S. personnel


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he believes Cuba "is responsible" for attacks on American government personnel in Havana.

    President Donald Trump answers questions as he speaks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the rose Garden after their meeting at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. [Associated Press]