Good News! Federal Judge Rules Against 404 Permitting Moved to Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Feb 16, 2024 | Advocacy, In the News

In 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delegated federal wetlands permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) over the objections of Audubon and most other environmental organizations. Several groups engaged EarthJustice to file a legal challenge.

On February 15, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision vacating the delegation because it violated the Endangered Species Act.

In rendering his decision, Judge Moss indicated that he would entertain a possible “stay” regarding vacating the delegation to DEP, but only for those wetland permit applications that had no impact on endangered species. Crafting a motion for a “stay” would require somehow separating those permit applications with possible Endangered Species Act impacts from those permit applications with no such impacts (a very difficult task due to the numerous endangered species in Florida).

The legal challenge against the delegation (there are many other claims as to why it was contrary to law) will continue, but at this point it appears that the controversial Section 404 permit delegation is deservedly in deep trouble.

Congratulations to the organizations who brought this legal challenge!


Magnificent Frigatebird. Photo: Ramkumar Subramanian/Audubon Photography Awards.