There is created a Department of Environmental Protection.
(1) The head of the Department of Environmental Protection shall be a secretary, who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the concurrence of three members of the Cabinet. The secretary shall be confirmed by the Florida Senate. The secretary shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
(2)(a) There shall be three deputy secretaries who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the secretary. The secretary may assign any deputy secretary the responsibility to supervise, coordinate, and formulate policy for any division, office, or district.
(b) The Office of the Secretary is established. The secretary may establish offices within the Office of the Secretary or within the divisions established under subsection (3) to promote the efficient and effective operation of the department.
(c) The secretary shall appoint a general counsel who is directly responsible to and serves at the pleasure of the secretary. The general counsel is responsible for all legal matters of the department.
(d) There shall be six administrative districts involved in regulatory matters of waste management, water resource management, wetlands, and air resources, which shall be headed by managers, each of whom shall be appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the secretary. Divisions of the department may have one assistant or two deputy division directors, as required to facilitate effective operation.
(e) The directors of all divisions, and the managers of all offices and districts, are exempt from part II of chapter 110 and are included in the Senior Management Service in accordance with s. 110.205(2)(j). (3) The following divisions of the Department of Environmental Protection are established:
(a) Division of Administrative Services.
(b) Division of Air Resource Management.
(c) Division of Water Resource Management.
(d) Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration.
(e) Division of Waste Management.
(f) Division of Recreation and Parks.
(g) Division of State Lands, the director of which is appointed by the secretary of the department, subject to confirmation by the Governor and Cabinet sitting as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.
(h) Division of Water Restoration Assistance.
In order to ensure statewide and intradepartmental consistency, the department’s divisions shall direct the district offices and bureaus on matters of interpretation and applicability of the department’s rules and programs.
(4) Records and documents of the Department of Environmental Protection shall be retained by the department as specified in record retention schedules established under the general provisions of chapters 119 and 257. Further, the department is authorized to:
(a) Destroy, or otherwise dispose of, those records and documents in conformity with the approved retention schedules.
(b) Photograph, microphotograph, or reproduce such records and documents on film, as authorized and directed by the approved retention schedules, whereby each page will be exposed in exact conformity with the original records and documents retained in compliance with the provisions of this section. Photographs or microphotographs in the form of film or print of any records, made in compliance with the provisions of this section, shall have the same force and effect as the originals thereof would have and shall be treated as originals for the purpose of their admissibility in evidence. Duly certified or authenticated reproductions of such photographs or microphotographs shall be admitted in evidence equally with the original photographs or microphotographs. The impression of the seal of the Department of Environmental Protection on a certificate made by the department and signed by the Secretary of Environmental Protection entitles the certificate to be received in all courts and in all proceedings in this state and is prima facie evidence of all factual matters set forth in the certificate. A certificate may relate to one or more records as set forth in the certificate or in a schedule attached to the certificate.
(5) The Department of Environmental Protection may require that bond be given by any employee of the department, payable to the Governor of the state and the Governor’s successor in office, for the use and benefit of those whom it concerns, in such penal sums and with such good and sufficient surety or sureties as are approved by the department, conditioned upon the faithful performance of the duties of the employee.
(6) There is created as a part of the Department of Environmental Protection an Environmental Regulation Commission. The commission shall be composed of seven residents of this state appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. In making appointments, the Governor shall provide reasonable representation from all sections of the state. Membership shall be representative of agriculture, the development industry, local government, the environmental community, lay citizens, and members of the scientific and technical community who have substantial expertise in the areas of the fate and transport of water pollutants, toxicology, epidemiology, geology, biology, environmental sciences, or engineering. The Governor shall appoint the chair, and the vice chair shall be elected from among the membership. All appointments shall be for 4-year terms. The Governor may at any time fill a vacancy for the unexpired term. The members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but shall be paid travel and per diem as provided in s. 112.061 while in the performance of their official duties. Administrative, personnel, and other support services necessary for the commission shall be furnished by the department. The commission may employ independent counsel and contract for the services of outside technical consultants.
(7) The department is the agency of state government responsible for collecting and analyzing information concerning energy resources in this state; for coordinating the energy conservation programs of state agencies; and for coordinating the development, review, and implementation of the state’s energy policy.
(8) The department may adopt rules requiring or incentivizing electronic submission of forms, documents, fees, or reports required under chapter 161, chapter 253, chapter 373, chapter 376, chapter 377, or chapter 403. The rules must reasonably accommodate technological or financial hardship and must provide procedures for obtaining an exemption due to such a hardship.