Lloyd Dunkelberger reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Florida’s…lawsuit against Georgia…reached another milestone this week without any sign of resolution…Ralph Lancaster…had given the two states until Tuesday to enter mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement…[A] spokesman for Attorney General Pam Bondi said the two states did participate in mediation…and Florida is…preparing a confidential memorandum, which Lancaster…requested, outlining the settlement attempts…[L]egal fees became an issue this month when the Department of Environmental Protection revealed it was running out of money to pay the lawyers. The…agency said it would be about $17 million short of a projected legal bill of $41 million for this budget year…The agency filed a request with the Legislative Budget Commission, a joint panel of House and Senate members, asking for a $13 million transfer to cover the bulk of the shortfall. But lawmakers have delayed action on the request, saying they want more details on the rising legal costs.” Read Florida’s ‘water war’ legal bill soars to $41 million
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “House Speaker Richard Corcoran said…he has asked two legislators with finance backgrounds to investigate the $100 million in legal bills the state has received in the protracted lawsuit against Georgia…He said he supported litigation but ‘the question is: what is the fair market cost.’… ‘Spending $100 million in legal fees, we are getting gouged and that needs to be fixed.’….[S]ince 2001, the state has been billed $97.8 million on the water wars and has spent $71.9 million to date.” Read Corcoran appoints two legislators to investigate ‘water wars’ legal bills
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Van Lent said a reservoir south of Lake O…would reduce discharges by 50 percent versus 6 percent from a northern reservoir while directing much-needed water south into Florida Bay…[T]he South Florida Water Management District [says] he’s using ‘irresponsible science’…Van Lent’s science clashed with the Florida Land Council, which represents 19 landowners across the state, many of whom are south of the lake and have been reluctant to sell land. Executive Director Ernie Barnett said…[t]he best solution is to build a reservoir north on land the state already owns…Septic tanks contributed 27 percent to 41 percent of nitrogen pollution in the river from 1997 to 2015, said Brian Lapointe…[He] recognized simply converting more tanks into sewer lines won’t solve pollution in the estuary. The algae that plagued the St. Lucie last summer came from the lake.” Read Bill to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges expected to be filed Thursday
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Sen. Rob Bradley filed a 14-page bill…that gives the South Florida Water Management District until Dec. 2018 to complete the purchase from ‘willing sellers’ in the Everglades Agricultural Area for the purpose of building a water storage reservoir. The bill, SB 10, sets a deadline but also opens the door to the state exercising its option to buy more than 100,000 acres from U.S. Sugar in the same area if no land owners come forward, or can’t agree on selling the 60,000 acres needed…The funding would come from bonding $100 million of Land Acquisition Trust Fund money…If the land is not acquired by March 2018, ‘the district must identify land that is suitable for the reservoir project and the best option for securing such land.’…House Speaker Richard Corcoran…questioned the need to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee [and] said he was firmly opposed to bonding to buy the land….Eric Draper…said the legislation… ‘is exactly what voters had in mind’ and, he added, ‘using bonds is a smart way to approach this project.’” Read Bradley files Senate plan to buy farm land as Everglades battle mounts
Jim Turner reports for The News Service of Florida – “Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will hold a conference call next week to determine how to replace departing Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson….[They] will…vote on Matthews as interim secretary…” Read Scott, Cabinet start looking for environmental chief
Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “SB 532 from…GOP…Senator Bill Galvano…would require companies to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery, and DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours…Linda Stewart is a co-sponsor on the bill…The legislation also requires DEP to develop and publish a list of substances that ‘pose a substantial risk to public health, safety or welfare.’ If any company fails to notify DEP about an incident regarding one of the published substances, it could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day.” Read Bill Galvano files “spill bill” strengthening notification requirements
Steve Gorman reports for Reuters – “Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial “rogue” Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science…[S]cientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have…[borrowed] names and logos of their agencies to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed.” Read U.S. government scientists go ‘rogue’ in defiance of Trump
Niall McCarthy reports for Forbes – “In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined.” Read Solar Employs More People in U.S. Electricity Generation than Oil, Coal and Gas Combined
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 28, 9:30 AM - Attend the 1st Nature's Spirit Conference hosted by the Pagan Environmental Alliance and the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches to discuss how science, belief in nature, and activism can tap into greater community involvement. For more information, click here.
January 28, 10:00 AM – Attend a free Solar Information Meeting of the Space Coast Solar Co-op in Palm Bay. For more information and to register, click here.
January 29, 10:00 AM – Attend Southwest Florida Veg Fest in Fort Myers. For more information, click here
January 29, 6:00 PM – Attend The Nile Project at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The show takes the audience on a journey up and down the Nile River basin through vibrant, joyful and original music that combines the traditions of 11 countries along the river. The Nile Project’s mission is to, ‘…empower the citizens of the Nile basin to foster the sustainability of the Nile River’s ecosystem. For more information, click here. To buy tickets, click here. Limited Supply Offer for FCC News Brief Readers: For a limited time, Use Promo Code “Water” for 25% off tickets!
February 4, 9:00 AM – Attend and/or volunteer at Energy Whiz in Tallahassee. This is an annual competition for elementary and middle school students to demonstrate their S.T.E.M. knowledge and skills as they relate to energy topics such as solar thermal, photovoltaics, and hydrogen technology. For more information, click here.
February 6, 7:00 pm – Attend a free Solar Co-op Information Meeting of the East Broward County Solar Co-op at Art Serve in Fort Lauderdale. To register, click here.
February 7, 12:00 pm – Join the Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center (99 NW 1st Avenue) in High Springs. February’s lecture is on Springs Stresses: Groundwater Pumping, Fertilizers, Wastewater Disposal, & Recreation. For more information, click here.
February 7, 7:00 pm – Attend a free Solar Co-op Information Meeting of the West Broward County Solar Co-op at Broward County Government Center West in Plantation. To register, click here.
February 8, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. The guest speaker is Margaret Stewart, Esq., Associate Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. Margaret will discuss Florida’s current water laws, how they’re enforced, and why they are insufficient. RSVP to email@example.com.
February 9-11 – Attend the Public Interest Environmental Conference: Land Conservation: The Worth of the Earth at the University of Florida. For more information, click here.
February 13, 6:00 pm – Attend Sun Power: What’s Next for Solar in Florida at the Kapnick Center Auditorium (4820 Bayshore Dr.) in Naples. This will be a panel presentation featuring Mary Dipboye, founder of Florida’s first solar co-op and a FLSUN advisory board member; Jim Henderson, president of a solar-powered business; and Chad Washburn, Deputy Director at Naples Botanical Garden, a LEED Gold Standard institution. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
February 15, 12:00 pm – Participate in 1000 Friends of Florida’s FREE webinar: Implementing Water 2070: Water Conservation Planning for Florida Communities. Dr. Pierce Jones, Director of the University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, will discuss water conservation planning for Florida’s communities based on a series of studies he’s conducted on behalf of the Toho Water Authority, Envision Alachua (Plum Creek), and other local governments, developers, and water authorities. For more information and to register, click here.
February 15, 6:30 pm – Attend Troubled Waters: Tallahassee Screening and Panel Discussion at the Challenger Learning Center IMAX (200 South Duval St, Tallahassee, FL 32301). Florida’s waterways are suffering from significant pollution problems. Combined with the impacts from a rapidly growing population, we have a potential recipe for disaster. The documentary will be shown (48) minutes and followed by a panel discussion featuring Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper; Sarah Owen Gledhill, Florida Wildlife Federation; and Ryan Smart, 1000 Friends of Florida. For more information and your FREE tickets, click here.
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