FCC News Brief - December 12, 2017

Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Bulldozers downing trees in pine rockland targeted for a Walmart-anchored shopping center were ordered to stop work Friday after a federal judge issued an emergency injunction sought by environmentalists fighting to save the vanishing forest. Miami district court Judge Ursula Ungaro issued the order just hours after the Center for Biological Diversity and three other groups sued to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision earlier this week that cleared the way for the mall, 900 apartments and a parking lot. The land near Zoo Miami had long been targeted for conservation and is part of what was once one of the largest tracks of pine rockland, a globally imperiled forest, outside Everglades National Park. In her ruling, Ungaro said the plaintiffs showed a likelihood of winning their case and that ongoing work could cause irreparable harm.” Read Judge orders emergency halt to clearing of rare Miami forest targeted for Walmart

Lesly Blackner writes for the Palm Beach Daily News – “Picture this: Your home sewer pipe transports your waste water into your swimming poll. Yes, everything: toilets, dishwasher, washing machine, sinks. Not a pretty picture. Please hold that sickening image and extrapolate it – to Florida’s entire hydrological system – surface and ground waters, which are used as a vast toilet… The truth is that we flush our waste water into Florida waters. You wonder why the Lake Worth Lagoon is brown and dead? Why the beaches get shut down when bacteria counts are sky high? Why there are deadly algae blooms? Where all the fish and sea grass have gone? Why there are lesions on dolphins and sea turtles? This devastation is a product of a deep mindset that says, ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’… One big dirty secret is septic tanks… Back in the 1970s, the EPA said that Florida soils are unsuited for septic tanks – the water table is too high and the soils are too permeable.” Read Do you know where your waste water goes?

The Associated Press reports – “An endangered Florida panther kitten has been struck and killed by a vehicle. It’s the 24th fatal collision this year, out of 29 total panther deaths.” Read Endangered Florida panther kitten hit, killed by vehicle

Stephanie Claytor reports for Bay News 9 – “A group of environmentalists gathered in downtown Tampa Saturday to support a bill banning fracking in Florida.” Read Group gathers to support bill banning fracking in Florida

Carl Hiaasen writes for the Miami Herald – “Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami and 11 other House Republicans co-signed a letter asking senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove from the tax-reform bill a provision that will allow oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge… To no one’s surprise, McConnell disregarded the plea… The Senate version of the tax-reform bill includes a green light for Arctic drilling, which was inserted purely to win the support of Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski… Drilling has nothing to do with the tax-reform debate, but McConnell needed Murkowski’s vote for the bill to pass. Why would Curbelo, a congressman from South Florida, buck the GOP leadership over an environmental sellout in faraway Alaska?... [H]e understands that coastal Florida could be the next battleground… The president’s review of leasing boundaries includes vast tracts in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that are currently protected… Ironically, only a week after Trump’s announcement, the Florida Legislature was ratifying a plan to distribute $300 million in compensation funds fore several counties in the Panhandle that got economically crushed by the BP spill… Given Florida’s catastrophic vulnerability to oil spills, it makes sense that Curbelo would be alarmed by his own party’s strategy of sneaking another fragile region – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – into the Senate tax package. The precedent should scare every tourist town along the Gulf and Eastern seaboards. If McConnell’s ploy survives the House-Senate conference committee, the drilling approval for the Alaskan refuge will appear in the final tax-overhaul bill. Then Curbelo gets to vote again, and he’ll have a hard choice to make. March with his party, or stand with his conscience.” Read Chance to drill off Florida’s coast has some salivating

The Associated Press reports – “A mysterious epidemic continues to sweep South Florida’s reefs, transforming corals into lifeless skeletons and threatening undersea structures that support tourism, provide hurricane protection and serve as homes to a vast range of marine life. Called white plague, white blotch and other names, depending on the pattern of damaged or destroyed tissue, the disease has infected more than 20 South Florida coral species from the Middle Keys through Palm Beach County… The disease arose during a worldwide, three-year coral catastrophe called bleaching, in which unusually warm ocean water led many corals to expel the piece of algae that provided them with color and gave them a source of nutrition through photosynthesis. Although coral can recover from bleaching, the ordeal weakens them and makes them vulnerable to disease… A 35 percent loss of stony coral has taken place off the South Florida coast north of the Keys…, said David Gilliam, assistant professor of marine and environmental science at the (Nova Southeastern University’s) Halmos College of Natural Science and Oceanography… ‘If you don’t have stony corals, you won’t have continued reef growth. If the reef isn’t growing, it’s slowly dissolving…’ Some species have virtually disappeared. Death claimed all but one of 65 colonies of pillar coral being monitored from central Miami-Dade County to southern Palm Beach County…Scientists don’t know whether the disease is caused by a bacteria, virus, fungus or other pathogen. They don’t know why it infects certain species and not others. They don’t know how to stop it. The state is spending $1 million this year to study it and the water conditions that surround it, with another $1 million coming net year, according to DEP.” Read Mysterious ‘white plague’ threatens South Florida coral reefs

Jordan Ferrell reports for WTLV – “U.S. Senator Bill Nelson introduced legislation… that could further expand the solar industry in Florida by allowing banks to invest heavily in the renewable energy sector… Under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, bank holding companies may invest in businesses engaged in non-banking activities, but are limited in the amount of outstanding stock they can control. Currently, BHCs are only allowed to control up to 5 percent of any non-banking company. Florida’s senior senator wants to increase that amount up to 20 percent for companies that engage solely in the production or storage of renewable energy… According to Nelson, allowing BHCs to invest more freely in the relatively untapped marketplace would make it easier for those financial institutions to offer financing to homeowners for the instillation of rooftop solar power systems… The legislation includes a provision which would require the director of the FDIC to conduct a review to help identify ways to increase the ‘financing for residential solar energy system property improvements in underserved markets, including examining current obstacles to such financing.’” Read Bill Nelson looks to expand Florida’s solar industry through ‘Green Banking Act’

Samantha Raphelson reports for NPR – “The country’s first private high-speed rail service is opening this month in Florida…” Read Florida Set to Launch Country’s First Private High-Speed Train Service




From Our Readers

The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.


Job Openings

Executive Director for Audubon of the Western Everglades

Associate Director for the Center for Earth Jurisprudence

Florida Field Campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity

Project & Content Manager for The Nature Conservancy (Job ID 45848)

Apalachicola Riverkeeper/Executive Director

Staff Attorney in St. Petersburg for the Center for Biological Diversity



Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Solar in Jacksonville      

Tell Congress to Stop Attacking Protections for Dolphins and Whales

Save Endangered Sea Turtles from Drowning in Shrimp Trawls

Defend Attacks on the Marine Mammal Protection Act

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

 Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

Ask County Commissions to Pass Bear-Friendly Trash Ordinances



Upcoming Environmental Events    

December 13, 8:00 am – Attend a meeting of the Legislative Committee of the Constitutional Revision Commission in Tallahassee. A proposal to dedicate funds in the LATF to the Florida Forever Trust Fund will be considered. For more information, click here.

December 13, 12:45 pm – Attend the next Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in the Villages. Speakers include Sam Wartinbee who will discuss Villages Water-Related issues and Ranger Craig Littauer who will discuss opportunities at Silver Springs State Park. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

December 15, 10:00 AM - Attend the Miami-Dade County Delegation meeting at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, Miami-Dade County Board of County Commission Chambers (111 NW 1st Street, 2nd Floor) in Miami. Tell your Delegation that you want the LARGEST SHARE of Amendment One funds, approximately $300 million next year, to be dedicated annually to land conservation programs. For more information, contact floridaconservationcoalition@gmail.com.


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 and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. 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 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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