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Florida Department of Environmental Protection May Have Violated State Open Government Law

Kate Stein
On the DEP's website, there was no mention of a public meeting that took place at 10 a.m. Thursday in Deerfield Beach.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials may have violated state law by failing to provide online public notice of a meeting for a draft permit.

A meeting that included a public comment period took place at 10 a.m. Thursday morning in Deerfield Beach to discuss a draft permit for a possible new injection well to store wastewater.

But no notice of the meeting appeared on the agency’s online calendar for public notices, outreach and education.  A message posted above the calendar says the law that must be followed is SB 2188. "SB 2188 requires state agencies to post all public meetings, hearings and workshops to their website, with the exception of emergency meetings," the message states.

A notice did appear in the Sun Sentinel newspaper on July 31, according to documents provided by Waste Management -- the company applying for the permit.

Officials at the West Palm Beach Department of Environmental Protection branch office declined to comment, referring WLRN to the agency’s press office in Tallahassee. That office closed early this Thursday afternoon because of Hurricane Hermine, and a call to the office was not answered.

A public comment period on the draft permit closed Thursday at midnight.