FCC News Brief - November 14, 2016

Phuong Le reports for the Associated Press – “A lawsuit filed by young climate activists who contend the U.S. government is failing to protect them from the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions can move forward, a federal judge…ruled Thursday. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken…denied motions by the federal government and trade groups representing big energy companies to dismiss the lawsuit. They had argued that lawmakers and federal agencies, not the court, should determine climate change policy. The plaintiffs…allege the federal government has known for decades that carbon pollution causes climate change but has failed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that the federal government’s actions violate their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and the government has violated its obligation to hold certain natural resources in trust for future generations…After U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin (first) denied…motions to dismiss, the government and trade groups filed objections. The case then went before Aiken, who on Thursday adopted coffin’s recommendations and findings, allowing the case to proceed…The plaintiffs are seeking a court order that requires the government to create a plan to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions…” Read Judge: Youth Climate Change Lawsuit Against Feds Can Proceed

Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News Journal – “A months-long investigation into...John Miklos- who was working for the city of DeBary while it tried to make a land deal with the regional water management agency where he is board chairman- is expected to be heard by the Florida Commission on Ethics in December…[L]ocal officials and environmental advocates have been concerned that Miklos may seek a record fourth one-year term as chairman of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s governing board…Most chairmen have served two consecutive one-year terms…[For the] second time in eight months the Corps…issued a cease and desist on a project where Bio-Tech is the environmental consultant….Jeffrey Collins, a Corps permit reviewer, said Miklos’ ‘standard business practice is to ignore (the rules) and make other people force them to comply.’… ‘He does what he thinks politics allow him to do…The agencies are so overwhelmed…’ The lack of environmental enforcement by the state has left a lot of responsibility for enforcement to the Corps, Collins said… ‘Sometimes they win by attrition just because there’s a limit to what people can do at this end,’ he said…State records show the firm also has incurred violations of the state’s gopher tortoise rules…Former board chairman Pat Harden…[has] called for…prohibiting water district board members from representing clients within that district while they’re serving on the board…” Read Ethics case against St. Johns water board chair Miklos to be heard in December

Allison Marshak writes for The St. Augustine Record – “Just around the corner from Nocatee we are blessed with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve…Protected since 1985, the GTMNERR provides habitat for ‘at least 44 mammal, 358 bird, 41 reptile, 21 amphibian, 303 fish and 580 plant species…48 of which are protected animals and eight are protected plants...’…[J]ust around the corner from Nocatee is the unique and beautiful “Outpost,” an exquisite tract of conservation land that directly abuts the GTMNERR. The Outpost’s surrounding waters have been designated “Outstanding Florida Waters,” which means they are ‘worthy of special protection,’ according to the DEP…Unfortunately,…Gate Petroleum is suing St. Johns County to rezone the land and is in contract with Dream Finders Homes who will then build 77 huge homes for a development called Vista Tranquilla…[T]his precious habitat will be lost for generations to come. Forever…Left in its natural state, this conservation land will not only benefit countless animals, birds, and plants but also continue to help clean our air, improve our water quality and prevent flooding…Please do whatever you can to stop Gate Petroleum from destroying the Outpost. Please join SaveGuanaNow.org and donate what you can – time, money, an item for a future fundraiser- any help is valued! Time is of the essence.” Read Paradise lost, just around the corner 

Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post – “The last remaining intact piece of the northern Everglades in Palm Beach County will…remain open to the public, despite a contract battle over an invasive fern that may mean the eviction of the federal government from the property…Water management district attorney Brian Accardo said the district is waiting for the fish and wildlife service to present a plan of action on how it will attack the lygodium problem…Olson (project leader for the refuge), said he’s never been asked for a plan and questions…if the lygodium standoff isn’t a maneuver to end federal involvement in the refuge. The refuge is at the heart of a years-old lawsuit that requires the state to ensure clean water is flowing into that land…[T]o protect refuge ecosystems, the land…can only store limited amounts of Lake Okeechobee water and acts as a barrier to sending lake water south. The district is under great pressure to find ways to send lake water to…Everglades Park and Florida Bay, instead of…fragile…estuaries….The refuge has maintained about 45,700 tree islands…In [another] water catchment [area] without federal management, the tree islands have dwindled to three from 40 in one area… ‘Without Fish and Wildlife…the state no longer has to comply with meeting the 7 parts per billion target,’ [an Everglades policy associate for Audubon Florida] said.” Read Water managers ready to keep wildlife refuge open even if feds evicted  

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “48 fledgling black skimmers died in September after two Pinellas County cities dumped sewage into Boca Ciega Bay, according to Elizabeth Forys, an Eckerd College professor studying the birds. Official laboratory tests on the cause of those deaths are still under way, but one of the birds was confirmed to have died of salmonella, she said….Lab tests on water samples taken by Forys found levels of bacteria 100 to 1,000 times above normal…‘The type of bacteria found was very unusual…,’ Forys said. ‘This is a highly pathogenic bacteria that has caused death in birds and mammals (including humans) and is largely antibiotic resistant.’ A University of South Florida researcher found a different strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in waters along St. Petersburg’s shoreline after the city dumped millions of gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay…Black skimmers are currently classified as a species of special concern in Florida, but state officials are leaning toward raising that level of protection to threatened…” Read Bird deaths, bacteria may have resulted from sewage spills into Boca Ciega Bay 

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes - “Sponsored by the Everglades Foundation, the “Road to Restoration” tour…was intended to rally support for a plan to buy land and build a massive new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee…[A] governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District, the public agency responsible for taking the lead in Everglades Restoration…dismissed the idea of building a new reservoir south of the lake as ineffective, too expensive and ‘agenda-driven.’ It’s easy to find flaws in a proposal that is so ambitious when it still has blanks to fill in…[L]eaders would be more responsible to try to make it work. The alternative…[is] environmental crises like this year’s…There’s insufficient storage for runoff south of the lake, so the corps flushes the water east…and west…where it wreaks ecological havoc…Congress passed a…law in 2000 that included authorization for the southern reservoir. The project has stalled amid funding shortages and opposition from the sugar industry…Sugar, a $2 billion industry, would take a hit. But recreational fishing is worth more than $9 billion. Coastal real estate, and tourism, are worth far more…The Everglades Foundation says a northern reservoir would only reduce discharges by 6 percent, while a southern reservoir would reduce discharges by almost half…This [year LATF dollars] will exceed $700 million…There are enough dollars to finance the state’s half of the reservoir, keep up with a $50-million-a-year commitment to springs, and complete other projects – if lawmakers don’t divert the money.” Read End stench and sludge. Save the Everglades: #NowOrNeverglades  

Science Daily reports – “Global changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth from genes to entire ecosystems, with increasingly unpredictable consequences for humans—according to a new study published in the journal Science.” Read Climate change already dramatically disrupting all elements of nature

Lance Shearer writes for News Press – “The Everglades is teeming with wildlife…It could be grouped by warm-blooded mammals such as the panther, otter, black bear, versus the cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians…Alligators belong in the Everglades, more than we do. Ditto the bobcat, the raccoon, the gar, the ibis and the heron…” Read An Everglades bestiary: Native and exotic populations of the ‘Glades




From Our Readers

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URGENT: Reschedule the Lake Pickett North Development Hearing!

Prevent the Loss of One of Florida’s Most Popular National Wildlife Refuges

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

Stop the Division of Herky Huffman/Bull Creek WMA 2016

Now or Neverglades Declaration

Ask the SFWMD to deny the permit for the Crosstown Parkway that cuts through TWO State Preserves

Save the Econlockhatchee River!

Ask County Commissions to Pass Bear-Friendly Trash Ordinances

Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Ask the USACE to reject Harbor Sound application to fill wetlands

Paynes Prairie in danger

Save the Biggest Wetland Mitigation Bank in the U . S . A . from Development

Deny Beruff’s Mitigation Bank Permit

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state


Upcoming Environmental Events

September – November – Participate in The Great Suwannee River Basin Cleanup 2016. For more information and to sign up, click here.

November 15, 3:00 pm Attend The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expeditions: Movie and Lecture in Ocala. Carlton Ward, Jr. will describe the first Florida Wildlife Corridor trek. Then The Forgotten Coast will be aired. Afterwards, there will be closing commentary and time for Q&A with the executive directors of The Conservation Trust and the Florida Wildlife Corridor. For more information and to register, click here.

November 17, 6:30 pm – Attend a Solar Co-op Information Session at 862 S. Orlando Ave. in Winter Park. Homeowners in Orange County and bordering counties are invited to hear how solar can work in their homes, how to pay for solar, and the benefits of solar co-op membership. For more information and/or to sign up for the co-op, click here. The deadline to join the Orange County Solar Co-op is November 30, 2016.

November 19, 11:00 am – Attend North Florida Land Trust’s Salt Marsh Brewgrass Festival at Big Talbot Island Biological Field Station in Jacksonville. There will be a great lineup of “Brewgrass” music outside on the marsh and an array of food trucks and local brews. You can also sign up for a guided kayak tour or guided hike around the island. Click here to purchase tickets.

December 1-2 – Attend the rescheduled Florida Remediation Conference in Orlando. FRC includes 2 days of technical presentations on soil and groundwater cleanup, along with more than 80 industry product and services exhibitors. For more information, click here.

December 6, 12:00 pm – Join the Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643. December’s lecture is on Springs Chemistry. For more information, click here.



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