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
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
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
- 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