Monday, May 7, 2012

Permit Extension and Streamlining Bill Signed into Law

Landowners will be interested to hear that on May 4, Governor Scott signed HB 503. The bill extends some environmental permits and development orders and streamlines some environmental permitting procedures. The permitting extension applies to any "any building permit, and any permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or by a water management district pursuant to part IV of chapter 373, Florida Statutes, which has an expiration date from January 1, 2012, through January 1, 2014." Eligible permit holders may notify the permitting agency that they intend to take advantage of the bill's two-year extension. The extension generally operates in addition to the legislative permit extensions from recent years, such as the similar measures passed in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

HB 503 has also been a topic of discussion this session because it streamlines some environmental permits. The summary from the staff analysis of HB 503 lists the most important changes:
  • Prohibiting a local government from conditioning the approval for a development permit, after July 1, 2012, on an applicant obtaining a permit or approval from any other state or federal agency.
  • Providing conditions under which the DEP is authorized to issue permits in advance of the issuance of incidental take authorizations as provided under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Expanding the use of internet-based self-certification services for certain exemptions and general permits.
  • Exempting injection wells under the State Underground Injection Control Program from permitting under part III of chapter 373, F.S.
  • Requiring action on certain permit applications within 60 days of receipt of last timely requested material; precluding state agencies from delaying action because of pending approval from other local, state, or federal agencies. 
  • Providing for the DEP to obtain an expanded state programmatic general permit from the federal government for certain activities in waters of the U.S. governed by the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act.
  • Revising the voluntary site cleanup program by raising the priority ranking score from 10 points or less to 29 points or less, and excluding expenditures associated with program deductibles, copayments, and limited contamination assessment reports from state restoration funds available for low scored site initiatives. 
  • Providing that the transfer of title for a petroleum contaminated site to a child of the owner or a corporate entity created by the owner to hold title for the site does not disqualify the site from financial assistance.
  • Providing expedited permitting for any inland multimodal facility receiving and/or sending cargo to and/or from Florida ports.
  • Authorizing certain zones of discharges to groundwater for existing installations.
  • Providing that sludge from a waste treatment works is not a solid waste.
  • Allowing byproduct from the creation of renewable energy that is recycled to count towards the state recycling goal.
  • Exempting new solid waste disposal areas at an already permitted facility from having to be specifically authorized in a permit if monitored by an existing or modified groundwater monitoring plan; extending the duration of permits issued to solid waste management facilities that are designed with a leachate control system and those without a leachate control system if certain conditions are met.
  • Providing a general permit for a stormwater management system under 10 acres may be authorized without agency action.
  • Expanding the definition of blended gasoline, defines the term ‗alternative fuel‘, and authorizes the sale of unblended fuels for certain uses.
  • Extending certain ERP and development permits for 2 years after its previously scheduled date of expiration.
HB 503 will take effect July 1, 2012.