FCC News Brief - December 16, 2017

Jim Saunders reports for the News Service of Florida – “State regulators… approved a controversial proposal by Florida Power & Light to collect at least $176.4 million from customers for a project dealing with a saltwater plume that moved from the FPL plant at Turkey Point into nearby groundwater… ‘The Public Service Commission is rewarding FPL by allowing it to profit from decades of environmental damage they caused to Biscayne Bay,’ said Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez… ‘This is outrageous. At best, FPL looked the other way for decades and now that they’ve been forced to clean up their mess, the PSC has allowed them to put the… cost on to us. With every anti-consumer and anti-environmental decision from the PSC, it becomes more and more clear that the for-profit monopoly system we have benefits no one but utility shareholders.’” Read FPL gets state’s OK to charge customers for cleaning saltwater plume at Turkey Point

Alex Pickett reports for Courthouse News – “The world’s largest producer of potash and phosphate fertilizer can proceed with plans to greatly expand mining operations in Florida, a federal judge ruled… Together the Center for Biological Diversity, Manasota-88 Inc., People for Protecting Peace River and Suncoast Waterkeeper challenged federal permits given to Mosaic Fertilizer, claiming the approvals did not adhere to the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act… [T]he (mining) process… creates radioactive phosphogypsum that requires storage in large pools of acidic wastewater called a gypsum stack. This water – a cocktail of chemicals and minerals with low levels of radiation – poses a risk for animals and humans, the environmentalists claim. In 2015, Mosaic paid $2 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency to settle claims it improperly disposed of these chemicals. Last year, a 45-foot-wide sinkhole opened up under one of the gypsum stacks, swallowing an estimated 215 million gallons of the wastewater. The company confirmed the wastewater reached the Florida aquifer, the state’s main source of drinking water… Among other points of contention, the [Environmental Impact Statement] does not consider mine site alternatives to areas bordering streams and rivers. The environmental groups also worried the mines would harm some of the state’s most endangered species, including the Florida panther… The lawsuit… questioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to conduct a cumulative impact on species from all the proposed mines.” Read Enviro Groups Lose Bid to Stop Florida Phsophate Mine

Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Florida water managers say water running from conservation areas into the Everglades is cleaner than ever, reaching the lowest levels since clean-up efforts began… But the Miccosukee Tribe, which won a landmark case forcing the state to clean water, said the district continues to exclude polluted water on tribal land from monitoring reports. ‘You’re showing deceptive information and everybody wants to sing Kumbaya,’ said Truman “Gene” Duncan, the tribe’s water resource director… District officials acknowledged that tribal land remains polluted, but say they’re working on projects to address it. They said they don’t include the land in their count because the tribe conducts its own monitoring.” Read Florida declares Everglades water cleaner than ever. Miccosukee Tribe says not so fast.

Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News Journal – “A proposal to give Floridians the right to ‘a clean and healthy environment’ by placing it into the state’s constitution [was] debated in Tallahassee this week, one of five environment-related proposals moving forward as a state panel considers a list of more than 100 possible constitutional updates. Another of the five proposals being considered by the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission revisits Amendment One, the Water and Land Legacy initiative approved by Florida voters in 2014. The measure responds to critics of the way the Legislature has spent the money that measure raised by requiring legislators to spend one-third of the money to acquire and maintain conservation lands… (Commissioner) Thurlow-Lippisch has sponsored all five of the environmentally related proposals moving through the process. ‘The environment was one of the main things that came up, and the discontent with the implementation of Amendment One,’ she said. ‘It was absolutely a recurring theme with the public.’… ‘We’re in an era where government agencies just really aren’t in a mode of enforcing environmental laws,’ said Henderson,… executive director of Stetson University’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience. ‘Establishing a right to a clean environment as a fundamental right gives private citizens who are affected by that the ability to file a lawsuit… Six states have a provision like this, and about 170 countries,’ said Henderson… The other proposals: - 23: An elected Cabinet position for a Commissioner of Environmental Protection… - 48: Allows the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to protect wildlife habitats… – 91: Pushes out the boundaries for where oil drilling could be allowed off the Florida coast, out to the Gulf Stream on the state’s east coast and 10 miles on the Gulf Coast. It will be heard in general provisions committee Thursday.” Read Florida’s constitution commission debating right to a ‘clean and healthy environment’

The Tallahassee Democrat Editorial Board writes – “Among those time-honored rules conservatives so often cite is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ That’s fitting for tree ordinances…” Read Tree ordinance pre-emption ‘fixes’ a nonproblem

Cindy Swirko reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Whoopers are endangered nationwide… One state (conservation) program involved the release of 289 captive-raised birds while a federal program used ultralight aircraft to teach young cranes to migrate to Florida in the fall. Neither program is active now but some success occurred. An adult whooper has regularly hung out in the Paynes Prairie area for a few years with her smaller cousins, sandhill cranes. Now, a second and much younger whooper has been spotted recently at Kanapaha Prairie, said Rex Rowan of Alachua Audubon. The two whooping cranes are especially rare because they are among the few that were hatched in the wild in Florida that have survived… Tim Dellinger,… with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said about 14 whooping cranes live in Florida – primarily in the central part of the state.  Most were raised in captivity and brought here to try to start a resident, non-migrating population through breeding. But building a population in Florida has been challenging.” Read Despite their size, whoopers tough to spot

The New York Times Editorial Board writes – “The protections put in place over the last half-century by both political parties to guarantee Americans clean air, clean water and bountiful open space have been coming apart at the seams since President Trump took office. The last few weeks have been particularly brutal for conservationists and, indeed, anyone who believes that big chunks of America’s public lands, however rich they may be in commercial resources, are best left in their natural state. On Monday, Mr. Trump withdrew some two million acres of spectacular landscape from two national monuments in Utah designated by his Democratic predecessors. This followed the Senate’s decision last weekend to authorize oil drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an area full of wildlife, of talismanic significance to environmentalists and of great economic importance to Native Americans. The arguments in both cases were the same: America needs the energy buried beneath these lands… And both arguments were equally spurious…” Read The Looting of America’s Public Lands

Eric Lipton and Danielle Ivory report for The New York Times – “An analysis of enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the (Trump) administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations – Democratic and Republican – toward polluters… The Time built a database of civil cases filed at the E.P.A. during the Trump, Obama and Bush administrations. During the first nine months under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the E.P.A. started about 1,900 cases, about one-third fewer than the number under President… Obama’s first E.P.A. director and about one-quarter fewer than under President George W. Bush’s over the same period. In addition, the agency sought civil penalties of about $50.4 million from polluters for cases initiated under Mr. Trump. Adjusted for inflation, that is about 39 percent of what the Obama administration sought and about 70 percent of what the Bush administration sought over the same time period. The E.P.A… also can force companies to retrofit their factories to cut pollution. Under Mr. Trump, those demands have dropped sharply.” Read Under Trump, E.P.A. Has Slowed Action Against Polluters, and Put Limits on Enforcement Officers




From Our Readers

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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)

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



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