Susan Salisbury reports for my Palm Beach Post – “With a proposal to purchase a huge swath of the nation’s most fertile farmland south of Lake Okeechobee threatening to put them out of business, a coalition of Palm Beach County vegetable farmers and related businesses has formed an organization to fight back…The coalition…includes more than 60 mostly family-owned farms and related businesses located in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The farms supply much of the nation’s winter vegetables, including sweet corn, radishes, green beans, celery, lettuce and leafy greens, as well as rice, grown in rotation with sugar cane. John s. Hundley, vice president of Hundley Farms in Belle Glade and president of EAA Farmers, said: ‘We want…to be heard…The small farmers, in general, are the ones who are going to get killed.’” Read Farmers gear up to fight proposed land buy south of Lake O
Kevin Wadlow reports for FL Keys News – “Advocates for Florida Bay and the Everglades contend water storage-and-treatment reservoirs south of the lake are essential to restoring freshwater flows…[T]he South Florida Water Management District issued a statement on what the agency calls a ‘historic plan to protect South Florida’s coastal estuaries.’ It focuses on a system of reservoirs and deepwater-injection wells north of Lake Okeechobee to reduce freshwater discharges from the lake…Florida Bay and the Everglades are not mentioned in the Water Management District’s release. Tom Van Lent, chief scientist with the Everglades Foundation, harbors strong doubts about the proposal, which he said was never considered in Everglades restoration planning. ‘Basically, they want to take all the fresh water needed by Florida Bay and the Everglades and bury it underground forever,’ said Van Lent… ‘It’s extremely inefficient, expensive and unsustainable.’” Read Opposition to south-of-the-lake water plan heats up
Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “After costing nearly $300 million of South Florida taxpayers’ money, a long-stalled reservoir for Everglades restoration missed its December construction deadline and could take another year to complete. Now, even before it’s finished, local officials are pushing for state lawmakers to approve building another reservoir – with a price tag that could hit $400 million – right next door…The unfinished reservoir…is intended to get more water flowing south to replenish the Everglades. The proposed neighboring reservoir would be tapped to boost drinking water supplies in Palm Beach and Broward counties.” Read Reservoir plans aim to boost S. Fla. Drinking water supply, help ‘Glades restoration
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Rep. Matt Caldwell…questioned why the state would buy out farmers when it already owns so much other land south of the lake in water conservation areas… ‘You could build a reservoir in the water conservation areas. That’s sacrosanct to some folks. But if we’re just being honest, it’s not the Everglades. It’s wonderful and I enjoy it, but we created the water conservation areas. That’s former farmland that we turned back into marsh in the ‘60s, so if I could just build a reservoir today and spend half as much, I could put it there on 60,000 acres.’…The slow pace of restoration…means projects almost always undergo tinkering from shifting political leadership or changes in science…Over the years, the academy scientists say revisions have shorted water storage…Negron…wants to pay for the reservoir with money from 2014’s Amendment 1, which is supposed to be reserved for purchasing environmental land. Lawmakers are currently being sued by environmental groups for spending much of the $700 million collected last year on state salaries, risk management insurance and other administrative issues.” Read Is Florida moving too slow to save the Everglades?
Eric Staats reports for the Naples Daily News – “An appeals court panel has ruled in favor of a ranch owner who had taken on environmentalists in a long-standing property rights lawsuit…In the suit, HHH Ranch owners contended new county growth rules violated their property rights by banning rock mining and cutting the number of homes that could be built on the 1,110-acre ranch…The settlement…involves a land swap that environmental groups challenged as shortchanging endangered species such as the Florida panther and the red-cockaded woodpecker…The land swap adds 578 acres of preserve…near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and deducts the same amount of preserve on the ranch. But environmental groups said the additional preserve is of less value to wildlife than the preserve taken away from the ranch. The deal also requires the ranch to deed the county land for the future extension of Wilson Boulevard through panther habitat.” Read Court upholds settlement, backs Naples-area ranch on mining, number of new homes
Tom McLaughlin reports for NWF Daily News – “ ‘My legislation (to eliminate the EPA) does not repeal a single law,’ [Rep. Matt Gaetz] said. ‘What it does is downstream authority to the state.’…In many cases, the FDEP already acts to ensure the federal laws established through EPA regulations are implemented, agency spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said. ‘Often EPA sets national standards that states and tribes enforce through their own regulations,’ Miller said…EPA awards grants to state environmental programs…For fiscal year 2015-16, FDEP got $110.7 million… ‘These…fund infrastructure projects such as sewage treatment, stormwater management facilities and drinking water treatment as well as for the implementation of nonpoint source pollution control and estuary protection programs.’” Read EPA dissolution could affect Northwest Florida
Andrew King and Michael Toffel write for The Hill – “The nonpartisan federal Office of Management and Budget has calculated that the rules imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the decade ending 2012 yielded benefits 10 times their costs – a ration better than all of the other federal agencies they reviewed.” Read Trump has a great opportunity to save our environment
Joe Davidson reports for The Washington Post – “Ebell (former head of President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team) has suggested cutting the EPA workforce by 5,000, about a two-thirds reduction, over the next four years. The agency’s budget…would be sliced in half under his prescription, which he emphasized is his own and not necessarily Trump’s…If Ebell’s prescription is filled, it ‘would cripple environmental protection across-the-board, putting at risk the health and well-being of [everyone] in our country,’ said Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the National Resources Defense Council. ‘We’d face greater exposure to contaminated drinking water, toxic air pollution, unsafe pesticides, stalled Superfund cleanups, hazardous oil and waste spills and a host of other dangers – not the least of which is dangerous climate change.’” Read President Trump transition leader’s goal is two-thirds cut in EPA employees
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 7, 7:00 pm – Attend a presentation by Bill Belleville a Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring. The PPT presentation will focus on the importance of water to Florida’s culture and economy. For more information, contact Bill at Billybx@gate.net.
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.
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