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The Florida Statutes

The 2001 Florida Statutes

Title XXIX
Public Health
Chapter 403
Environmental Control
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Section 403.412, Florida Statutes 2001

403.412  Environmental Protection Act.--

(1)  This section shall be known and may be cited as the "Environmental Protection Act of 1971."

(2)(a)  The Department of Legal Affairs, any political subdivision or municipality of the state, or a citizen of the state may maintain an action for injunctive relief against:

1.  Any governmental agency or authority charged by law with the duty of enforcing laws, rules, and regulations for the protection of the air, water, and other natural resources of the state to compel such governmental authority to enforce such laws, rules, and regulations;

2.  Any person, natural or corporate, or governmental agency or authority to enjoin such persons, agencies, or authorities from violating any laws, rules, or regulations for the protection of the air, water, and other natural resources of the state.

(b)  In any suit under paragraph (a), the Department of Legal Affairs may intervene to represent the interests of the state.

(c)  As a condition precedent to the institution of an action pursuant to paragraph (a), the complaining party shall first file with the governmental agencies or authorities charged by law with the duty of regulating or prohibiting the act or conduct complained of a verified complaint setting forth the facts upon which the complaint is based and the manner in which the complaining party is affected. Upon receipt of a complaint, the governmental agency or authority shall forthwith transmit, by registered or certified mail, a copy of such complaint to those parties charged with violating the laws, rules, and regulations for the protection of the air, water, and other natural resources of the state. The agency receiving such complaint shall have 30 days after the receipt thereof within which to take appropriate action. If such action is not taken within the time prescribed, the complaining party may institute the judicial proceedings authorized in paragraph (a). However, failure to comply with this subsection shall not bar an action for a temporary restraining order to prevent immediate and irreparable harm from the conduct or activity complained of.

(d)  In any action instituted pursuant to paragraph (a), the court, in the interest of justice, may add as party defendant any governmental agency or authority charged with the duty of enforcing the applicable laws, rules, and regulations for the protection of the air, water, and other natural resources of the state.

(e)  No action pursuant to this section may be maintained if the person (natural or corporate) or governmental agency or authority charged with pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, or other natural resources of the state is acting or conducting operations pursuant to currently valid permit or certificate covering such operations, issued by the appropriate governmental authorities or agencies, and is complying with the requirements of said permits or certificates.

(f)  In any action instituted pursuant to this section, other than an action involving a state NPDES permit authorized under s. 403.0885, the prevailing party or parties shall be entitled to costs and attorney's fees. Any award of attorney's fees in an action involving such a state NPDES permit shall be discretionary with the court. If the court has reasonable ground to doubt the solvency of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's ability to pay any cost or judgment which might be rendered against him or her in an action brought under this section, the court may order the plaintiff to post a good and sufficient surety bond or cash.

(3)  The court may grant injunctive relief and impose conditions on the defendant which are consistent with and in accordance with law and any rules or regulations adopted by any state or local governmental agency which is charged to protect the air, water, and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment, or destruction.

(4)  The doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel shall apply. The court shall make such orders as necessary to avoid multiplicity of actions.

(5)  In any administrative, licensing, or other proceedings authorized by law for the protection of the air, water, or other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment, or destruction, the Department of Legal Affairs, a political subdivision or municipality of the state, or a citizen of the state shall have standing to intervene as a party on the filing of a verified pleading asserting that the activity, conduct, or product to be licensed or permitted has or will have the effect of impairing, polluting, or otherwise injuring the air, water, or other natural resources of the state.

(6)  Venue of any causes brought under this law shall lie in the county or counties wherein the cause of action is alleged to have occurred.

History.--ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ch. 71-343; s. 24, ch. 88-393; s. 10, ch. 97-103.


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