Each year, the Florida Chamber of Commerce hosts an “Environmental Permitting School” for professionals looking to work more effectively with federal, state and local officials on environmental permitting issues. This year’s school was July 19th-22nd and Dawson & Associates was pleased to have two of our colleagues serve on the faculty.
Our colleague Brian Farrar, who has decades of experience with Florida land use issues, served as the mediator for a session on “New Developments in Federal Permitting.” Brian’s panel included Kelly Unger of the US Army Corps of Engineers and other experts in state and federal environmental policies. This was an excellent course on how to reach out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and how to work successfully with Corps officials on wetlands permitting processes, particularly Section 404 Clean Water Act.
Brian and the group also engaged the audience on common mistakes companies make when lobbying the Army Corps of Engineers and strategies for avoiding these lobbying mistakes with the Corps.
Our colleague Larry Liebesman, Esq., who joined our firm in 2015 after more than a decade as an environmental litigator with the U.S. Justice Department, was the principal panelist in a session devoted to the EPA’s efforts to define what constitutes “Waters of the U.S.” Larry provided a detailed overview on WOTUS history and evolution, including related court actions. He also discussed the EPA’s current attempt to redefine “waters of the US” and how this is running into trouble in the courts.
The panel provided keen insight into what the EPA’s new rule could mean for Florida’s regulatory process. For example, as Larry noted, according to the rule’s new wording, most if not all water conveyances that have a “bed, bank, high water mark, and a connection to waters of the US” would become regulated by the federal government.
This was the school’s 30th year and approximately 900 professionals attended, including Dawson members Dwight Beranek, P.E. CFM and our new Senior Vice President Gen. (ret) Bruce Berwick, P.E.
Col. (ret) Joe Schmitt Senior Advisor
A member of the Dawson team since 2012, Joe served as Chief of Staff and Project Manager at the Defense Department’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, which provides support services for U.S. combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dawson & Associates.