Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1091, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fine and Sen. Joe Gruters. HB 1091 passed unanimously during the 2020 Legislative Session.
HB 1091 includes a 100 percent increase in penalties for sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) and an across-the-board 50 percent increase for all other environmental fines. It also allows for a daily fine until the issue is remediated or there is a consent order in place that addresses the violation. Currently, fines may be forced to stop before any legal remedy is found.
Governor DeSantis has made enforcement of the state’s environmental laws a top priority and championed HB 1091 throughout the 2020 Legislative Session.
“Penalties for violating environmental laws should do what they’re meant to do: serve as a meaningful deterrent against bad actors,” said Governor DeSantis. “Many of the state’s existing fines and penalties had not been adjusted since 2001 and had lost their deterrent effect. This penalty increase will enhance the department’s enforcement ability, better protecting our environment and ensuring that our environmental investments are safeguarded.”
“The department is grateful for the Governor’s and legislature’s commitment to environmental enforcement,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “These penalty increases will provide an additional tool for the department to enforce Florida’s environmental laws.”
“There is no greater threat to Florida’s long-term prosperity than our water quality, and with the signing of HB 1091, we are taking steps to secure our future,” said Representative Randy Fine. “Because local politicians in Brevard County – and around the state — prioritized spending millions on astroturf and antiques for lighthouse employee museums, they failed to meet their responsibility to maintain our sewer system and protect the Indian River Lagoon. Thousands of spills and hundreds of millions of gallons illegally dumped each year. Enough. The message is clear today – if you illegally dump sewage into our waterways, you will be held accountable by the state.”
“Florida is not Florida without its abundant natural waterways. Water is at the heart of the state’s terrific quality of life, and what makes tourism the backbone of our economy. Given that, it is incumbent on us to aggressively tackle all pollution sources to clean up our environment and preserve our great state through accountability and responsibility,” said Senator Joe Gruters. “If we can live in a world with self-driving cars and rockets that can land by themselves we should be able to make sure we don’t dump raw sewage, or what my kids like to call ‘poo’ into our water. It is time to hold polluters accountable, and we are going to make them pay with their wallets.”