Nathaniel Reed writes for the TC Palm – “This July, I will celebrate my 84th birthday, and [the EAA reservoir] project already has been on the drawing boards for at least 16 of those years. Those in Tallahassee who would further drag their heels until 2021 just to begin the planning phase should visit the affected communities along both our coasts and in the Florida Keys. While there, try asking for patience form the folks whose businesses have been lost, whose children have been made ill or who have had to abandon their homes because of the toxic fumes. There is no excuse for further delay. We need to invest in the EAA reservoir, and we need to do so now- not later.” Read Invest in reservoir now – not later
Brittany Shammas reports for Miami New Times – “Commissioner Vince Lago is sponsoring an ordinance that would prohibit the sale, use, or distribution of plastic bags by retail establishments in [Coral Gables]. Hundreds of cities around the nation have banned plastic bags, but Coral Gables would be the first in Florida…[I]n the Sunshine State, legislators barred local governments from enacting any rules regulating containers, wrappings, or disposable bags. The legislation called upon the Department of Environmental Protection to submit an analysis of the regulations needed by 2010, which it did. Cities have been left in limbo by the law, which ‘allows the state to do nothing – indefinitely,’ Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto wrote in his ruling on Coral Gables’ Styrofoam ban…Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen says, in his view, the judge’s ruling means the city is no longer governed by the state’s statute ban on regulating containers, wrappings, or disposable bags.” Read Coral Gables Might Become the First Florida City to Ban Plastic Bags
Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times Union – “[Environment Florida and Sierra Club Florida are suing] one of the world’s biggest poultry producers…saying a chicken processing site near Live Oak is polluting the Suwannee River. The suit argues Pilgrim’s Pride regularly violated pollution standards written into company permits for years…Runoff water from the plant…contains nitrogen from animal feces and a range of chemicals…The suit says the nitrogen has helped algae growth in the Suwannee and the chemicals at times exceed levels the permit considers toxic to wildlife in the river. The pollution violated the federal Clean Water Act, activists said…A Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman, Dee Ann Miller, said the state is working on its third agreement since 2010 for Pilgrim’s Pride to improve its wastewater. The company paid a $36,000 penalty and met goals included in a deal with the state between 2010 and 2012…but hadn’t shown improvements required for another compact covering for 2015 and 2016. The third agreement, which is being developed now, will include ‘a more robust compliance plan as well as…additional penalties,’ Miller said.” Read Lawsuit claims poultry processor hurts Suwannee River
Jim Ash reports for WFSU – “The House Majority Leader says there’s a chance a hydraulic fracturing bill could pass the Florida Legislature this year. Representative Ray Rodrigues…opposes a statewide ban by Republican Senator Dana Young… ‘…[A] moratorium, or a temporary ban on the subject of unconventional oil extraction is a definitely a possibility.’ However, Rodrigues says any bill would have to protect property rights.” Read A ‘Ray’ or Hope for Fracking Legislation This Year
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Now that she’s retired after 30 years with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Connie Bersok says she can finally talk about her long career – mainly her controversial 2012 suspension after she wrote a critical memo recommending against a development scheme…Bersok also spoke about the agency’s future, saying she sees worsening political interference involving development permitting and veteran employees who are fired or who quit because of pressure and harassment.” Read DEP employee suspended in 2012 speaks about her experience – and the future
Junior Skepple reports for the Jacksonville Business Journal – “Dale Lewis, an expert with 30 years of experience in logistics, challenges some of the findings made by the USACE and Martin Associates, a research firm Jaxport hired to conduct an economic impact study. Lewis has been researching economic issues surrounding deepening the St. John’s River from the viewpoint of shippers for 25 years…Lewis said he believes deepening the St. John’s River will not increase Jaxport’s market share in container shipping in the southeast region, nor will the deepening make Jaxport significantly more competitive with rival ports, Savannah or Charleston.” Read Analyst: Jaxport may not see the economic impact projected with deepening the St. John’s River
Chelsea Harvey and Chris Mooney report for The Washington Post – “A proposed White House budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could put coastal communities throughout the nation at a major disadvantage as they struggle to adapt to threats from sea-level rise, severe storms and other climate-related events…[P]rograms in the crosshairs include NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management grants and Regional Coastal Resilience grants, which come to $75 million combined…; its $10 million in Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency grants; the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, an annual investment of about $23 million; and its $73 million Sea Grant program…[W]ell-planned adaptation efforts could make the difference in whether cities such as Miami and New Orleans survive into the next century…[These programs] support resilience against storms and other natural events, research on fisheries management, the preservation of wetlands…and general community planning processes.” Read Trump’s proposed NOAA cuts would disarm our coasts in the face of rising seas, scientists say
Coral Davenport reports for the New York Times – “Mr. Pruitt has drawn heavily from the staff of his friend and fellow Oklahoma Republican, Senator James Inhofe, long known as Congress’s most prominent skeptic of climate science. A former Inhofe chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, will be Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff. Another former Inhofe staff member, Byron Brown, will serve as Mr. Jackson’s deputy. Andrew Wheeler, a fossil fuel lobbyist and a former Inhofe chief of staff, is a finalist to be Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, although he requires confirmation to the positon by the Senate…There is one area…Mr. Pruitt has vowed to continue the traditional work of the E.P.A.: a longstanding program for sending funds to states to clean up “brownfields” – former industrial sites that have been contaminated by pollution…There is speculation that the E.P.A. chief already has his eyes on a different office. Mr. Inhofe…will complete his current Senate term in 2020…Mr. Inhofe said of Mr. Pruitt, ‘I think he’d make a great senator.’” Read E.P.A. Head Stacks Agency with Climate Change Skeptics
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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.
April 1, 10:30 am – Attend Solar: Unlimited Energy for the Sunshine State, a free educational program on solar power, at the Coastal Region Library (8619 W. Crystal St.) in Crystal River. For more information, please contact Nancy Kost at (352) 628 – 0698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 18, 5:00 pm – Attend the Suncoast Climate Change Symposium at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium (8350 N. Tamiami Trail) in Sarasota. The symposium will host presentations on climate change and its consequences for Florida, featuring Dr. Harold Wanless of the University of Miami, noted geologist and sea-level rise expert. The sustainability manager for the City of Sarasota will also discuss Sarasota’s “Climate Adaptation Plan.” Tickets are $15 for the general public, and free for students. To purchase tickets, click here.
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