2010 Florida Statutes
Ecosystem management agreements.
Ecosystem management agreements.—
Upon the request of an applicant, the secretary of the department is authorized to enter into an ecosystem management agreement regarding any environmental impacts with regulated entities to better coordinate the legal requirements and timelines applicable to a regulated activity, which may include permit processing, project construction, operations monitoring, enforcement actions, proprietary approvals, and compliance with development orders and regional and local comprehensive plans. Entering into an ecosystem management agreement shall be voluntary for both the regulated entity and the department.
An ecosystem management agreement may be entered into by the department and regulated entities when the department determines that:
Implementation of such agreement meets all applicable standards and criteria so that there is a net ecosystem benefit to the subject ecosystem more favorable than operation under applicable rules;
Entry into such agreement will not interfere with the department’s obligations under any federally delegated or approved program;
Implementation of the agreement will result in a reduction in overall risks to human health and the environment compared to activities conducted in the absence of the agreement; and
Each regulated entity has certified to the department that it has in place internal environmental management systems or alternative internal controls sufficient to implement the agreement.
An ecosystem management agreement shall include provision for the department to terminate the agreement by written notice to all other parties to the agreement when the department demonstrates that:
There has been a material change in conditions from the original agreement such that the intended net ecosystem benefit is not being, and may not reasonably be expected to be, achieved through continuation of the agreement;
Continuation of the agreement will result in economic hardship or competitive disadvantage; or
A party has violated the terms of the agreement.
The applicant for an ecosystem management agreement may terminate such agreement at any time. Governmental parties, other than the department, may withdraw in accordance with the terms of the agreement at any time, but may not terminate the agreement.
An ecosystem management agreement may include incentives for participation and implementation by a regulated entity, including, but not limited to, any or all of the following:
Coordinated regulatory contact per facility.
Permitting process flexibility.
Expedited permit processing.
Alternative monitoring and reporting requirements.
Coordinated permitting and inspections.
Cooperative inspections that provide opportunity for informal resolution of compliance issues before enforcement action is initiated.
Alternative means of environmental protection which provide for equivalent or reduced overall risk to human health and the environment and which are available under existing law such as variances, waivers, or other relief mechanisms.
The Secretary of Community Affairs, the Secretary of Transportation, the Commissioner of Agriculture, the Executive Director of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the executive directors of the water management districts are authorized to participate in the development of ecosystem management agreements with regulated entities and other governmental agencies as necessary to effectuate the provisions of this section. Local governments are encouraged to participate in ecosystem management agreements.
The secretary of the department may form ecosystem management advisory teams for consultation and participation in the preparation of an ecosystem management agreement. The secretary shall request the participation of at least the state and regional and local government entities having regulatory authority over the activities to be subject to the ecosystem management agreement. Such teams may also include representatives of other participating or advisory government agencies, which may include regional planning councils, private landowners, public landowners and managers, public and private utilities, corporations, and environmental interests. Team members shall be selected in a manner that ensures adequate representation of the diverse interests and perspectives within the designated ecosystem. Participation by any department of state government is at the discretion of that agency.
An application for a binding ecosystem management agreement shall include:
The name and address of the applicant;
The location and a description of the project; and
All application materials required for any requested permit, license, approval, variance, or waiver under all applicable statutes and rules.
An applicant for a binding ecosystem management agreement shall, at the applicant’s own expense, publish a notice of its request to enter into the agreement in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the activity that is the subject of the agreement will be located or take place. Proof of publication shall be provided to the department by the applicant. Actual mailed notice of the application shall also be provided to owners of property adjacent to the activity that is the subject of the agreement and to any other person whose interest is known to the department or the applicant.
A binding ecosystem management agreement is subject to the following requirements:
Notice of intent to enter into the agreement shall be published by the regulated entity in a newspaper of general circulation in each county where the ecosystem management area is located. The notice shall specifically identify any standards, rules, or other legal or regulatory requirements proposed to be subject to variance or waiver under the agreement and any permit, license, or approval to be granted. The notice shall include the opportunity to request a hearing on the agreement under the provisions of ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
Substantially affected persons may challenge the terms of the agreement and the proposed issuance of any permit, license, approval, variance, or waiver contained in the agreement pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
A substantially affected person may challenge the subsequent issuance of any permit, license, approval, variance, or waiver pursuant to the agreement, but which is not contained in the agreement, pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57. In any such proceeding, any relevant and material elements of the agreement shall be admissible.
Any substantial modification or amendment to the agreement shall be subject to the same processes as the original agreement.
The parties to an ecosystem management agreement may elect to enter into a nonbinding agreement that does not constitute agency action. Such agreements shall be considered advisory in nature and are not binding on any party to the agreement. If such election is made, any permit, license, approval, waiver, or variance subsequently issued by an agency shall be subject to the provisions of chapter 120.
Waivers and variances available under applicable statutes and rules may be granted as a part of a binding ecosystem management agreement.
A person who requests a binding ecosystem management agreement and as a part of that request seeks a permit, license, approval, variance, or waiver that is subject to a statutory application review time limit waives her or his right to a default permit, license, approval, variance, or waiver.
Implementation of this section by the department must be consistent with federally delegated programs and federal law.
s. 27, ch. 97-164; s. 15, ch. 99-7; s. 203, ch. 99-245.