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Compliance & Enforcement Quick Links

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Compliance is a key to environmental and public health protection.

Florida’s environmental laws allow sites to be developed, projects to be built and facilities to be operated if there is reasonable assurance they will comply with those laws. Permits and other authorizations issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)—whether for air emissions, coastal construction, landfills, marinas, wastewater plants, or paper mills—establish detailed conditions (compliance standards) under which these activities can be conducted while preserving air and water quality. Compliance is essential to environmental and public health protection—and DEP's objective is to resolve violations of Florida's environmental requirements effectively and return violators to compliance as quickly as possible.

Being "in compliance" means obtaining the proper written authorization to conduct an activity, if specific permission is required, and adhering to the conditions of that authorization and other applicable rules and laws. If no authorization is required, being in compliance simply means abiding by the law—don’t litter, don’t dump pesticides in the pond in your backyard. DEP promotes compliance by developing sound rules with public input; writing clear and enforceable permits, providing technical assistance and public education (like this Web site); having a strong field inspection presence in our district offices and other delegated local programs, and evaluating environmental data to check the performance of regulated activities.

DEP also promotes compliance through enforcement. Enforcement is punishment for non-compliance but it also must involve deterrence—delivering a potent message to the violator, and to others, that violations are not tolerated. The message may be in the form of penalties that hit the pocketbook, compensation required for damages, or implementation of "in-kind" projects that prevent pollution or otherwise enhance the environment. In all cases, ensuring that the violator fixes the problem and comes back into compliance is the first objective.

Determining the right response to any violation requires considering many factors, including:

  • How serious was the violation?
  • Is it a first-time violator or a chronic offender?
  • Was the violation inadvertent, was it due to negligence, was it willful?
  • Can the site or facility be brought back into compliance without formal enforcement?
  • Can any damage to the environment be undone or remediated quickly?
  • Is the violator responding in good faith?

This website offers insights into DEP’s compliance and enforcement philosophy as we answer those questions, and it summarizes some of the laws and rules that apply, the types of programs and actions we make use of, and the results of what we do.


Last updated: September 22, 2016

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Environmental Education, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 30   Tallahassee, Florida 32399  
850-245-2100 (phone) / 850-245-2159 (fax)

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