Scott Maxwell writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “On Tuesday, the [St. Johns River Water Management District] re-elected as its leader a man who has been plagued with conflicts of interest…[I]n his “public service” life, Miklos helps run the agency. But in his private life, Miklos offers clients the chance to pay him $155 an hour to help them navigate and get things like permits from the agency…yes, the one he runs…[N]ot only is Miklos still on the board, this week his colleagues re-elected him chairman. Even as an ethics complaint against him is pending. Even as a state investigation into the city of Debary (which paid Miklos $155 an hour for his services) is ongoing…[O]ne brave board member- Maryam Ghyabi…objected, saying that new blood is a basic practice of good board government. ‘There’s just no reason for someone to be a four-term chairman,’ she later said…But Ghyabi’s fellow board members didn’t even entertain her concerns.” Read Water board re-elects chairman plagued with conflicts of interest
Ledyard King reports for the Naples Daily News – “A bill that would have given states along the Gulf Coast and south Atlantic a greater share of royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote Thursday…Sen. Marco Rubio…voted to move it to the floor...[Sen.] Nelson led the opposition, fearing the lure of royalties might pressure state leaders to open up energy exploration that could harm the environment and the beaches that generate billions for Florida’s economy each year. In addition, he said, encouraging neighboring states to open more water for drilling poses its own threat to Florida, which still remembers the environmental and economic damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster…” Read U.S. Sen. Nelson of Florida helps keep Gulf of Mexico oil drilling bill from floor vote
Cindy Swirko reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Protesters of the Sabal Trail pipeline were arrested at the Gilchrist County construction site Saturday, and opponents of the gas transmission line said protests will continue.” Read Protesters arrested at Sabal Trail construction site
News 4 Jax reports – “North Florida Land Trust has acquired 624 acres of land…near Camp Blanding…NFLT worked closely with the Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program to identify the land, which was both a prime candidate for conservation and important to protect the base from the threat of encroaching development. The [land is] located in what is known as the “020” corridor, which is a nationally critical wildlife corridor that stretches from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest and eventually to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. ‘Preserving this piece of land…will…be beneficial to several endangered species like the gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker and indigo snake,’ said Jim McCarthy, Executive Director of NFLT.” Read Land Trust acquires land for conservation near Camp Blanding
The Herald-Tribune Editorial Board writes – “[T]he good-planning group 1000 Friends of Florida and several partners have provided a public service with a report that attempts to project our state’s demand for…water 54 years from now…Fortunately, the region that includes Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties is ahead of the curve and provides a model for the rest of Florida…[T]he Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority has spent the last 25 years developing a diverse range of water sources and storage capabilities…[F]or the past decade, the Southwest Florida Water Management District has worked with farmers, local governments and others to reduce the stress on wells and deep aquifers. Minimum flows for rivers and other surface waters were established as well. More steps can and should be taken…[R]esidents and businesses have significantly reduced per-capita consumption of water through the purchase of more efficient appliances and the installation of landscaping that requires less irrigation…Increased use of recycled, treated wastewater has reduced or mitigated pressure on potable sources…These efforts have required significant planning and investment of public funds.” Read Regional plan offers water-policy model
Mitch Hutchcraft writes for the News Press – “We need to listen more to each other and focus on the science rather than getting drawn into slogan fueled political battles and finger pointing…We are well underway to build the C-43 Reservoir that will hold 170,000 acre feet of water to reduce Lake Okeechobee releases during wet times and ensure the ecosystem has plenty of fresh water during drier times. The district is also hard at work building the C-43 Water Quality Treatment and Testing Facility that will develop new and effective large-scale techniques for cleaning nitrogen from the river…[Some speaker’s] arguments were political, not scientific, with one-single minded result: to redirect momentum and public investment from approved and scheduled projects, in pursuit of a flawed promise of a massive reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. One community activist called the well-established scientific link between septic tanks and high levels of nutrients in our estuaries ‘a red herring.’…[Speakers] dismissed the potential benefits of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Planning Project, which will identify 200,000 acre-feet of storage opportunities north of the lake. Additionally, [they] ignored the fact that the District has already invested billions of dollars to create 300,000 acre feet of storage south of the lake as well as invested in creating storage east and west of the lake…Storage north of the lake is now the missing piece in the regional storage puzzle…” Read Water summit helps identify solutions
Ryan Mills and Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “This is how beaches are built these days in…Florida…one truckload at a time…[Sand isn’t] just for building beaches. It’s used to build entire cities. It’s in concrete and glass, paint and asphalt. It’s used in water filters, even toothpaste…[S]and is difficult and expensive to find, and pits communities against each other.” Read Shrinking Shores: Florida sand shortage leaves beaches in lurch
Alan Farago writes for the Huffington Post – “Big Sugar, the biggest polluter of the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge through nutrient-packed and chemical runoff from farm fields, is behind the move…Scott and his hand-picked governing board at the South Florida Water Management District are using an invasion of exotic plants as a pretext. Their purpose; to remove the Everglades…from federal oversight…Big Sugar can’t just appropriate national lands. They would if they could. Instead, Big Sugar is taking a slow, methodical approach; to unite with other opponents of national parks and federal lands and starve the budget of the Department of interior and other federal agencies with environmental mandates. This formula is a core objective of GOP campaign funders: target an agency, starve its budget, then rant about the inefficiency of the agency and persuade voters, ‘government doesn’t work.’ On this magic carpet, Gov. Rick Scott hopes to defeat U.S. Senator Bill Nelson…in 2018. President-elect Donald Trump should balance the furious aim of partisan politics against the blood, sweat and sacrifice of past generations that created America’s best idea: a national park system and federal lands protected by regulations based in sound science. Americans should let their representatives in Congress and President-elect Trump know: our national parks and public lands are not for transfer and not for sale.” Read After Trump, will there be a federal role for environmental regulation? The battle is already taking shape in Florida
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