Florida Politics

Scott, Rubio, and Bean Introduce Bill Expanding State States' Rights Over Natural Resources

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The United States boasts varied landscapes rich in natural resources, with each state having something to offer. However, the federal government has sought to standardize management for all states. To this end, Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have introduced a bill expanding state rights over natural resource management, emphasizing the codification of Florida laws on water. Representative Aaron Bean (R-FL) has introduced the House companion bill.

For context, in 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the State of Florida to implement Section 404 of the Clean Water Act under state authority, making it the third state to do so. Section 404 permits states to manage permitting for filling and dredging of certain waters within their boundaries, a duty controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Notably, Florida is only the third state to have applied for and taken up this authority in almost thirty years, the only two other states being Michigan and New Jersey.

As a result, the bill introduced by Sen. Scott and Sen. Rubio codifies these permit authorities granted to Florida, New Jersey, and Michigan, and provides resources to allow other states to apply for the system for themselves.

In his press release, Sen. Scott said, "Florida has unique waterways and natural resources that shouldn’t be regulated by a one-size-fits-all federal structure. This bill protects Florida’s Clean Water Act permitting authorities that I fought for as Governor and secured as Senator under the prior administration, and ensures our state has the power to make the best decisions for Floridians while protecting our natural resources for future generations."

Sen. Rubio similarly cited states' rights in his statement, saying, "The federal government should seek to delegate authority to the states whenever it can, especially when the procedures are clearly provided in law. My bill would codify the State of Florida’s Clean Water Act permitting program, consistent with Congressional intent, to ensure permitting decisions affecting Florida are made by Floridians, not by one-size-fits-all Washington bureaucrats."

Rep. Bean, who introduced the House companion billadded, "The ability for states to take the lead in regulating their natural resources is vital, especially in the Sunshine State. Florida’s 404 permitting program remains essential for protecting our iconic wildlife and valued wetlands, while reducing wasteful duplication and improving responsiveness to applicants and the communities’ projects they serve."

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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