Hannah Hess reports for E&E News – “[I]n Pace, Fla., environmentalists [told] freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) why his bill, H.R. 861, to abolish U.S. EPA would be a major mistake. ‘To us, it’s insulting,’ said Estus Whitfield, who served as principal environmental advisor to four Florida governors from 1979 to 1999. Along with the Sierra Club and the Florida Wildlife Federation, Whitfield’s Florida Conservation Coalition, an umbrella group consisting of more than 40 affiliate organizations, [plugged] the town hall to activists all over the state…Since Gaetz formally introduced [his bill], congressional Democrats, a former Republican EPA official and current employees have blasted the concept of turning environmental research, monitoring and enforcement over to state and local authorities. ‘If you try to go too far on this, I believe the public is going to rise up,’ predicted President George W. Bush’s first EPA chief, Christine Todd Whitman…” Read Fla. Greens hope to bowl over anti-EPA lawmaker
Stuart Korfhage reports for the St Augustine Record – “Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) has introduced SB 996, which would allow those challenged on a development plan to countersue for legal fees if they eventually prevail…One of the major opponents of the bill is the group 1000 Friends of Florida, a nonprofit group that’s goal is to ‘create more sustainable communities and better protect vanishing natural lands across Florida.’… ‘One of the main things that we do on behalf of our members is challenge the worst development proposals around the state,’ Hawkins said. ‘And this bill would make it impossible for us and for community groups trying to challenge those bad developments to get into court.’…(Jane) West said SB 996 would simply crush citizen opposition…‘One of the few last remaining hops for Florida is the private citizen that cares enough about where they live to get engaged,’ West said. ‘And now we’re going to punish them by making them pay for developers’ attorneys fees? That’s pretty egregious…It’s an incredibly intimidating piece of legislation. It’s already so onerous for private citizens to raise money to hire an attorney to adequately represent them…’” Read Proposed Florida Senate bill would allow developers to countersue for attorneys’ fees
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “A quarter century after the state promised to clean up polluted farm water fouling the Everglades in a historic federal court order, water managers say its time to end the judicial oversight…But plaintiffs in the lawsuit and environmentalists warn ending the consent order at a time when restoration efforts remain far from complete – none of the 68 projects that make up the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan are done – would remove a powerful tool for insuring work gets done…They also fear the push to remove court supervision comes at a pivotal moment: with a new president and a new boss at the Environmental Protection Agency who has fought to end its regulations…The move also comes just months after the district threatened to terminate a lease deal with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the Loxahatchee refuge, raising fears that without federal involvement, water quality rules would no longer be enforceable in the…refuge…If the parties do follow through on the motion, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno will have final say. Other parties, including the Miccosukee Tribe, will also get a say on determining whether in fact the circumstances that created the need for the decree have been solved.” Read Florida water managers call for ending federal oversight of Everglades clean-up
David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “A new estimate puts the maximum number of Florida panthers prowling the state’s forests and swamps at 230, a sharp increase from past years and a hopeful sign for a species once thought virtually certain to go extinct…The minimum number rose from 100 to 120…Florida panthers, which once roamed across the southeastern United States, have been reduced to a remote swath of the state running from southern Everglades National Park to the cattle ranches, forests and farms west of Lake Okeechobee…State and federal wildlife agencies have protected some of their habitat, while allowing development to proceed unopposed elsewhere…[C]onservationists…warn that panthers still face significant threats from cars, habitat loss and conflicts with people.” Read Florida panther population shows sharp rebound
Greg Stanley reports for the Naples Daily News – “Collier County will free up $17 million to once again start buying up pockets of conservation land.” Read Back in business: Commissioners revive Conservation Collier
Ron Littlepage writes for the Florida Times Union – “Trump…has signed an order allowing surface-mining operations to dump waste into nearby waterways. And…is readying directives that would promote fossil-fuel production in the United States, including on federally owned land…The targets of Trump and his supporters…are the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act. It’s worthwhile to recall the state of the environment before the Clean Water Act…Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire…The Clean Water Act was the impetus for Jacksonville to stop dumping raw sewage into the river…[W]ith cleaner air (after the Clean Air Act) have come fewer cases of chronic bronchitis, heart disease and asthma attacks…There also have been successes in the Endangered Species Act…alligators and manatees…” Read Bad signs for environment from Trump administration
Austin L. Miller reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Thursday’s late-day protest in Dunnellon drew more than 300 people. It packed City Hall and stretched out the door. Its message was clear: Do not take water from the Rainbow River. They spoke at a public workshop conducted by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which met to discuss…minimum-flow recommendations for the beloved, spring-fed Rainbow River…By state law, Swiftmud is required to adopt new minimum-flow levels by July 1, and, based on its research, has recommended 5 percent for the Rainbow River. In other words, Swiftmud contends, there should be no more than a 5 percent flow reduction to maintain the river’s health. Swiftmud officials said the agency is working to protect the river and not harm it.” Read Protesters seek to protect the Rainbow River
Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton report for The New York Times – “During his tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the…Koch [brothers] to roll back environmental regulations, according to over, 6000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday…The companies provided him draft letters to send to federal regulators in an attempt to block federal regulations intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells, ozone air pollution, and chemicals used in fracking…The correspondence points to the tension emerging as Mr. Pruitt is not charged with regulating many of the same companies with which he coordinated closely in his previous position…The emails do not appear to include any request for his intervention explicitly in exchange for campaign contributions, although Mr. Pruitt was separately working as a member of the Republican Attorneys General Association to raise money from many of the same companies.” Read The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief was Arm in Arm with Industry
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 2, 6:30 pm – Join the Sierra Club Adventure Coast Committee when featured speaker Phil Compton will present the Sierra Club Campaign “Ready for 100,” designed to help communities transition to 100% renewable energy use. The meeting will be held at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Blvd.) in Spring Hill. Social begins at 6:30 pm followed by the meeting and program at 7:00 pm. For more information, email email@example.com.
March 8, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group Meeting at the Belvedere Library in The Villages, FL. Guest speakers will include Laura Seckbach Finn, the founder of Fly By Night, Inc., and Nigel Rudolph, from the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Laura will focus on Florida bats and Nigel will discuss the history and culture of the Crystal River. For more information and to RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7-9 – Attend FGCU’s Biodiversity Conference in Fort Myers. For more information and to register, click here.
March 10, 7:30 PM – Attend the Panthers vs. Wild Hockey game and support conservation efforts for the Florida panther. To buy your tickets, click here.
March 14, 9:00 AM – Participate in Florida Coasts & Ocean Advocacy Day at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Join the Surfrider Foundation and Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition in sharing your support for our ocean and beaches with your legislators! Advocate for clean water, healthy beaches, and an end to plastic pollution. For more information, click here.
March 22, 10:00 AM – Participate in Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Floridians will make their voices heard by speaking directly with their elected officials on key energy and water issues facing Florida. Public transportation from several cities across the state will be offered, as will advocacy training on March 21st. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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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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