Jim Strickland writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “Florida’s ranchlands…are…the protectors of our natural heritage and native wildlife…Florida ranches…protect many threatened and endangered species…[They] are critical to species such as the Florida panther and the Florida grasshopper sparrow…[T]he wetlands on ranches maintain watershed functions including storing and treating storm and flood water and supplying clean drinking water to the millions living in urbanized areas. However, Florida’s ranch country is a disappearing landscape…As a [rancher], I have both the privilege and the obligation to protect the habitat and wildlife on our ranchlands…I see it as my duty to ensure that our land stays as it is after we are gone, for the future of agriculture, for the health of the river and people downstream, and for the wildlife that depend on the ranch to survive…We have a long tradition of supporting programs that protect our natural lands and have shown that time and again at the ballot box…Despite the lack of funding, landowners continue to apply to put their properties on the (Florida Forever) list…[T]he Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and conservation easements under Florida Forever are crucial for the health of our state.” Read Cattle ranches are key to preserving Florida for all of us – Florida’s final frontier
John Quarterman writes for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Fossil fuel profits do not justify eminent domain takings of local lands nor any risk to our waters…Sabal Trail’s own figures show solar panels on half their pipeline’s acreage could produce just as much electricity. Pipeline studies have shown economic effects: reduced property values, lower tax bases, difficulties selling property near pipeline easements, and the economic stigma of a pipeline corridor…FDEP fails to protect Outstanding Florida Waters, after sinkholes near the Santa Fe River and in public roads, and another frac-out under the Withlacoochee (south) River…All Sabal Trail permits should be revoked. Investors should divest from Sabal Trail, and invest in solar power.” Read Sabal Trail pipeline already damaging our area
Larry Chamblin writes for the Pensacola News Journal – “Gulf Power’s proposal to increase and restructure its electric power rates is a bad deal for customers and for the environment…While proposing higher fixed charges paid by all customers, the company wants to reduce the energy charges based on energy usage. The result would be to reward customers who make no effort to conserve energy and penalize customers who try to reduce their energy usage. As a customer, my investments in more insulation and more efficient heating and cooling systems will lose value the day the new rates are approved. I will have less incentive to do the simple things people to do save energy and money, like turning off lights when I leave a room and adjusting the thermostat…Such efforts reduce profits, and now the company wants to raise rates ‘to invest in the long-term health and reliability of Northwest Florida’s energy infrastructure.’ Part of that infrastructure is a large coal-fired power plant in Georgia…Gulf Power’s investment in a coal-fired power plant comes as China…[continues] its transition from coal to wind, solar and other non-carbon energy sources.” Read Gulf Power rate hike a bad deal
NBC 6 reports – “[A] broken sewer pipe accidentally released 14,000 gallons of raw sewage into a storm water system that flows into the Indian River Lagoon.” Read 14,000 Gallons of Sewage Goes into Florida’s Space Coast Water System
John Moran writes for The Gainesville Sun – “[Gainesville] is poised to spend $1 million to develop and promote Palm Point Park with funds from the recent voter-approved Wild Spaces & Public Places initiative…Poe Springs Park…Once it was an appealing little swimming hole on the Santa Fe River, but then the engineers, planners, back hoes and concrete trucks transformed it into a facility largely devoid of its former charm…[A] million dollars can buy an avalanche of the concrete, asphalt, signs, buildings, lighting and other ‘improvements’ that we the people go forth into nature seeking to escape. I am deeply concerned that our well-intentioned city government will use our public funding to smother the wild at Palm Point…I propose that the city redirect that million dollars toward public acquisition of the YMCA or Glen Springs, for the greater good…If it’s “improvements” you seek, nearby Powers Park…offers a double-wide concreate boat ramp, a large fishing pier, restrooms, picnic pavilions, a playground, streetlights and a huge paved parking lot, probably visible from space.” Read Keep our wild places wild
Peter Schorsch reports for Florida Politics – “Dennis Ross…[, a] Lakeland Republican[,] …has been chosen for the OGR Subcommittees on the Interior, Energy and Environment and Government Operations…Ross’ new role will…offer him jurisdiction over the Departments of the Interior, Energy, and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the OGR Subcommittee on Interior, Energy and Environment. He said the new position will help him work on regulations that will ‘greatly affect Florida’s environment and public lands.’ ‘District 15 is blessed with a strong agricultural presence and issues related to our public lands, and the EPA greatly affects the cattlemen, citrus growers and other specialty crop producers I am proud to represent,’ Ross said.” Read Dennis Ross announces host of A-list congressional committee appointments
Jeff McMahon writes for Forbes – “Here is a list of simple actions that [you can do to reduce your climate impact]: 1. Become a vegetarian, or better yet a vegan…2. Eat organic when you can…3. Buy local when you can…4. Live in the climate…5. Line dry your clothes…6. Vote with your feet…8. Reduce and reuse before recycle…9. Offset your carbon emissions.” Read 9 Things You Can Do About Climate Change
Scott Maxwell writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “[W]hen people started demanding answers about the costs of this environmental lawsuit (against Georgia), Gov. Rick Scott’s environmental chief announced he was resigning to go work for…wait for it…one of the firms that had been billing taxpayers for the suit. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson will join Scott’s previous DEP secretary who already works at…wait again…the same firm. So taxpayers are out $72 million. There’s no resolution in the case. And the two guys who were supposed to be watching your water and tax dollars will soon work for one of the firms cashing in on the litigation.” Read Floridians pay big for environmental messes
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
February 2, 6:30 pm – Attend Sierra Club Adventure Coast Committee’s meeting at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Blvd.) in Spring Hill. NOAA Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Charles Paxton will speak on climate change in Tampa Bay over time. The social begins at 6:30 and the meeting & presentation will begin at 7:00 pm.
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.
March 7-9 – Attend FGCU’s Biodiversity Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.
We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest environmental news from around the state. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 70 conservation organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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