Monivette Cordeiro writes for Orlando Weekly – “In (Orange County’s) District 5, environmental advocate Emily Bonilla beat incumbent Commissioner Ted Edwards after a bitter fight regarding conflicts over the rural character of east Orange County. Edwards spearheaded votes on two developments east of the Econlockhatchee River that would put about 4,000 homes in an ecologically sensitive area. Bonilla, founder of the environmental group East of the Econ, protested Edwards’ decision along with hundreds of east Orange County residents. Bonilla won with 57 percent of the vote…Orange County voters also chose to approve…a controversial amendment that adds additional requirements for citizens trying to put initiatives on the ballot, making it harder for ordinary residents to make their voice heard.” Read Orange County voters elect two new commissioners, approve charter amendments
Wayne Washington reports for my Palm Beach Post – “The South Florida Water Management District has designated a 581-acre piece of Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve as “surplus” and available for sale, increasing fears of more development in a farming zone that some believe is being gobbled up by builders…Because the land is still jointly owned by the district and the county, a majority of the seven-member county commission would have to approve the sale. At least two commissioners…oppose the sale, arguing that Ag Reserve land purchased with public funds should remain in public ownership… ‘When voters approved the bond referendum, the promise was that the land would be preserved forever,’ Interlandi (senior attorney for the Everglades Law Center) said…The district used money from the U.S. Department of the Interior to purchase its stake in the land. Plans at that time called for…a reservoir that would be part of…Everglades restoration…But the district has identified a site in Martin County as more suitable and now wants to recoup the money spent on the Pero farms tract. ‘We need the money to buy land for other projects,’ Antonacci told district board members. ‘…There is a large sum of dead money that’s on your books that should be put to the purpose of Everglades restoration.’…[T]he district is working on a conservation easement that would restrict the land’s use to agriculture.” Read 581-acre piece of Ag Reserve, bought with public money, could be sold
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The South Florida Water Management District board…approved a nearly $62.5 million project to…[expand] the Caulkins water farm…The 11-year contract with Caulkins Citrus Co. calls for the water farm to remove about 26 billion gallons of water a year from the C-44 Canal, keeping the water and contaminants it carries from polluting the river…Mary Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society…told board members Caulkins… ‘…will do a lot of good for the St. Lucie River estuary.’…Money to build the project’s reservoir…comes from $48 million the Florida Legislature earmarked last spring to improve water quality in the northern Everglades and its estuaries, including the St. Lucie River. Continued annual funding will depend on continued allocations by the Legislature. Water district board members have made it clear they won’t spend money from local property taxes on water farms.” Read South Florida Water District board OKs Caulkins water farm extension
Julia Lurie reports for Mother Jones – “Donald Trump…has vowed to open up federal lands to mining and fracking and to pull back on environmental regulations. He even proposed scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency altogether. (Trump’s transition website now says that he plans to ‘refocus the EPA.’)..We reached out to author and activist Bill McKibben, who co-founded the environmental advocacy group 350.org, to ask about what all this means for the fate of the planet…Bill McKibben:…We were already way behind in this fight (against climate change). And the chances of even beginning to catch up with physics required accelerating right now instead of lurching to a halt. It’s not that all progress will stop overnight- renewable energy is cheap now, and there’s a lot of momentum behind it, but not enough…It’s going to be a field day for the fossil fuel industry, who will have their people everywhere [in the administration]…My guess is that liberating the fossil fuel industry to frack anywhere they want will drive down the rate at which we’re converting to sun and wind…We’re going to see the attempt to install a lot of fossil fuel infrastructure that will then be with us for the next 40 or 50 years. They’ve already dusted off plans for the Keystone pipeline…I don’t see a big opportunity at the federal level for policy fights…There’s plenty of room for working at the state and local level…that’s what happened during the Bush administration. The difference is that it’s eight years later and we’re much farther down the global warming path…[Climate change] obviously isn’t the reason people were voting one way or another, but it may certainly turn out to be the longest lasting incidental damage…The idea that China and India will just abandon climate action is not true, because they’re doing it for more reasons than we are. Delhi is locked in a complete choking smog at the moment…” Read Donald Trump is a Disaster for the Earth on Every Single Level
Robin Bravender reports for CilmateWire – “Donald Trump has selected one of the best-known climate skeptics (Myron Ebell) to lead his U.S. EPA transition team…Ebell…is known for his prolific writings that question what he calls climate change ‘alarmism.’ He appears frequently in the media and before Congress. He’s also chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of nonprofits that ‘question global warming alarmism and oppose energy-rationing policies.’…Ebell has called the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan…illegal and said that Obama joining the Paris climate treaty ‘is clearly an unconstitutional usurpation of the Senate’s authority…Leading the Trump DOE team: GOP hired gun McKenna…His lobbying clients in 2016 include Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, Southern Company Services, Dow Chemical Co. and Competitive Power Ventures Inc…” Read Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition
Brad Plumer writes for Vox – “The…pressing question…is whether Trump and the GOP Congress will pass a bill that will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from ever regulating carbon dioxide again. If they did that, they wouldn’t just kill the Clean Power Plan – they would prevent any future presidents from tackling climate change the way Obama did.” Read Donald Trump wants to dismantle Obama’s climate rules. So who’s going to stop him?
Chad Gillis reports for the News Press – “Much of the infrastructure needed to send more water south is in place; but the state can’t send water to the national park, and eventually, Florida Bay until there is some remedy…from the Endangered Species Act- which basically says the state can’t discharge water to the park between February and August because it could detrimentally impact the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow…For decades the goal has been to reconnect…lost flows to help hydrate the national park, where alligators have died in recent years from a lack of water. During that time, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow moved from its original home…to more interior areas of the park, areas it didn’t occupy historically. But the bird is there now, and sending more water to the park during high rain events would violate federal law because it would likely wipe out what’s left of the sparrow’s breeding population, which nests about 6 inches off the ground…Moving water from Lake Okeechobee to the national park requires a network of water treatment and conveyance features. If any of those features gets backed up, it’s impossible to send more water because the system is already at capacity… ‘As we…get into the dry season we enter that time when the Caloosahatchee needs water…to maintain salinity levels throughout the estuary,’ said Terrie Bates, the district’s water resources director.” Read State: federal species protections adding to water woes
Gimleteye writes for Eye on Miami – “President-elect Trump has both political space and reason to make a bipartisan cause- saving Florida’s waterways and Everglades restoration- a signature issue…What does President-elect Trump owe Big Sugar? Not very much, and the political capital he could gain with both Democrats and Republicans who supported him along Florida’s populous, GOP strongholds is real.” Read President-elect Trump: Let’s get to work protecting Florida’s water quality, its rivers, bays and Everglades
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September – November – Participate in The Great Suwannee River Basin Cleanup 2016. For more information and to sign up, click here.
November 12, 8:00 am – Participate in Rethink Energy Florida’s 5K Energy Run/Walk 2016. The race will be followed by an after party and awards at Township by Madison Social. For more information and to register, click here.
November 12, 8:30 am – Join Tom Morris and Dave Wilson for the Florida Springs Institute November Outing to the Alapaha Dead River. On this outing, we will hike through a lovely hardwood forest and explore some of the most breathtaking geology in Florida. For more information and to register, click here.
November 12-13, 9:00 am – Attend Ocali Country Days at the Silver River Museum in Ocala. Visitors will experience the Florida of yesteryear with Living History exhibits highlighting life during the 1800s. There will be bluegrass, blues & old time music; tram tours of the State Park; Hands-on Activities for kids; Old Time Puppet Shows; Folk Craft Demos & Vendors; great food, funnel cakes, and kettle corn; a Civil War Cannon Firing Demo; and more.
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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