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FL - Florida Business Groups Wade Into Wetlands Permitting Fight

The Florida Chamber of Commerce and a major developers’ group are seeking to intervene in a high-stakes lawsuit over a move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to shift permitting authority to the state for projects that affect wetlands.

Attorneys for the Florida Chamber and the Association of Florida Community Developers filed documents Friday in federal district court in Washington, as they seek to help defend the EPA’s decision. The organizations said the motion to intervene in the case is unopposed, though the court had not signed off on their participation as of Wednesday afternoon, according to an online docket.

A coalition of environmental groups filed the lawsuit in January, contending that the EPA and other federal agencies did not comply with a series of laws in making Florida the third state to have such permitting authority.

But in the documents filed Friday, the Florida Chamber and the Association of Florida Community Developers said their members would be harmed if the permitting authority went from the state back to the federal government.

“Because of the agency action at issue, Chamber and AFCD members are currently subject to the state-administered permitting regime being challenged,” the motion to intervene said. “Success for plaintiffs in this case would result in reversion to the prior, federally-administered permitting regime, which is ... less responsive and less transparent.”

The EPA on Dec. 17 announced approval of the shift, which involves permitting for dredge and fill activities under part of the federal Clean Water Act.

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