Ryan Smart writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “Changes to Senate Bill 10, Senate President Joe Negron’s laudable effort to prevent damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges and restore the flow of water into Everglades National Park, would divert billions of dollars from the pot of money created by Amendment 1 away from its intended use of protecting conservation lands through programs like Florida Forever and toward water infrastructure projects that should, and historically have, been paid for through other means…Water infrastructure projects often spur additional development…It would be tragic…if the very amendment meant to protect rural and natural lands became the source of their destruction. For this reason, and despite the good intention of the bill’s supporters…, all those who voted for Amendment 1 in 2014 should oppose the current version of Senate Bill 10…[M]ore than 5 million acres of natural and agricultural lands will be permanently lost to development over the next 50 years if current growth patterns continue. It is therefore essential that we protect lands with high conservation value now…or we will lose [them] forever…The answer to funding water infrastructure projects already exists and doesn’t require one dime of Amendment 1 funding: Restore the water management district budgets to pre-2011 levels…The Senate should drop the damaging amendment adopted last week and offer the people of Florida exactly what they voted for in 2014: immediate funding to purchase lands south of Lake Okeechobee, and a guarantee that from now until the end of Amendment 1 no less than 25 percent of the dollars set aside by voters in 2014 will go toward protecting conservation lands through the Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust programs.” Read Use Amendment 1 money as intended – to conserve Florida’s natural land
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “The leaders of one of the nation’s largest outdoors companies, a major boat manufacturer, and tourism industry officials met with Gov. rick Scott and legislators…to make the case that urgent action is needed to end the toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee…They offered statistics on how Florida is losing business to other states and warned about the social media buzz over Florida’s bad water, suggesting that if things don’t turn around now, it may take years to reverse…John Lai, representing the Lee County Development Association and the Sanibel/Captiva Chamber of Commerce…said that one in five jobs in his region rely heavily on tourism…The meetings were organized by the Everglades Foundation…Sen. Bill Galvano…who is designated to succeed Negron in 2020, said an effort is underway to find more land to use for storage north of the lake to reduce the amount of active farm land needed to be purchased. Lai said a poll of Lee County hotels found that over 92 percent lost more than 100 room nights last year because of the toxic algae bloom.” Read Fix water quality or Florida tourism will suffer, fishing and boating industries warn
Former Mayor Jake Godbold writes for The Florida Times Union – “[T]he heart of our city has always been and will always be our rivers and waterways. It is important that we protect our natural resources and our greatest asset to ensure that we remain a top-tier city. In…2014 the voters of Florida overwhelmingly approved [Amendment 1] to support…conservation across our state. This measure provided that one-third of excise taxes paid when transferring property be placed in a trust fund for the purpose of conserving and protecting Florida’s precious lands and waterways…Certainly a fair share of monies comes from our area…It is only fair that these funds be distributed around the state…That’s why I am an executive committee member of Stand Up North Florida, a group dedicated to ensuring that North Florida receives their fair share of state conservation funding – funding that is currently overwhelmingly going to South Florida.” Read Jacksonville deserves its fair share of state conservation funds
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Four environmental groups filed suit…against the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for authorizing 50,000 acres of phosphate mining in central Florida that the groups said violates the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act…Meanwhile, residents of two Lakeland subdivisions recently sued…Drummond Co. of Alabama, for not disclosing the radiation risk of building homes atop former phosphate mining property. That suit…says the homeowners now face the same radiation risk as someone who gets a chest X-ray every week…The lawsuit over mining focuses on a 2013 study published by the Army Corps that said creating those mines will destroy nearly 10,000 acres of wetlands and 50 miles of streams, causing a ‘significant impact.’ But the study – prepared for the Army Corps by a consultant paid by the phosphate industry- contended miners would do such a good job of making up for the damage…that the impact would eventually not be noticeable. The study did not specify what sort of mitigation would be involved…[E]nvironmental groups called that study ‘incomplete and unlawfully insufficient’ basis for the federal agency to approve the four mining permits.” Read Environmental groups sue federal agencies over effects of phosphate mining
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “[T]he House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee unanimously passed the House companion to a Senate bill that will allow [FP&L] to install transmission lines without following the City of Miami’s development rules…Just as occurred in the Senate committee…the vote for HB 1055 happened with no debate and little discussion…In May 2014, the [Governor and the Cabinet, acting as] the (state) siting board signed off on…two controversial power lines and a backup plan as part of an approval for two proposed new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point…The court found that the governor and Cabinet failed to take into account the damage done to wildlife and Everglades marshes by FPL building roads and concrete pads in a corridor that would cross fragile wetlands…If the bill were to become law, FPL is expected to bring the issue back before the governor and Cabinet and it will likely get approval again.” Read House committee approves FPL-backed bill to overturn court ruling that blocked transmission lines in wetlands
Jennifer A Dloughy reports for Bloomberg – “President…Trump is set to sign a sweeping directive [aiming] to reverse President…Obama’s broad approach for addressing climate change. One Obama-era policy instructed government agencies to factor climate change into formal environmental reviews, such as that for the Keystone XL pipeline. Trump’s order also will compel a reconsideration of the government’s use of a metric known as the “social cost of carbon” that reflects the potential economic damage from climate change. It was used by the Obama administration to justify a suite of regulations….[Trump’s order] will set in motion some discrete policy changes designed to make coal easier to extract and more enticing to burn…[T]he directive will compel the Environmental Protection Agency to undo the Clean Power Plan…Trump also is set to direct Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reverse an Obama administration order that blocked the sale of new coal-mining rights on federal lands…The measure also is set to direct regulators to rescind Obama-era regulations limiting oil industry emissions of methane…” Read Trump to Drop Climate Change from Environmental Reviews, Source Says
Theresa Java reports for Keys News – “Supporters of an anti-fracking bill…descended on the Florida Keys…to urge state Rep. Holly Raschein’s constituents to support the ban…The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee has already voted unanimously to support the bill…The Senate bill will next go to a committee vice-chaired by Sen. Rob Bradley…who has issued public statements in favor of the ban…State Sen. Anitere Flores…said she supports the bill…In Monroe County, commissioners passed a resolution last June to ban fracking in the Keys.” Read Anti-fracking coalition brings message to Keys
Andrew Revkin reports for ProPublica – “Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves…Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this a real-time issue, not some distant what-if…Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense.” Read Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 16, 3:30 pm – Join the Florida Springs Council in front of the Marion County Commission Building (601 SE 25th Ave) in Ocala for a demonstrating urging the St. Johns River Water Management District to stop future withdrawals from Silver Springs. After the demonstration, the District will host a public workshop to present their proposed Minimum Flow and Prevention Strategy for Silver Springs. The public is encouraged to comment.
March 20, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm – Attend the Tallahassee premiere of Catching the Sun, an inspirational documentary about the global shift to solar and renewable energy. For more information and to purchase tickets ($5), 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 1, 12:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the Sarasota County Solar Co-op at North Port Library (13800 Tamiami Trail) in Northpoint. To register, click here.
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.
April 18, 5:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the Sarasota County Solar Co-op at the North Sarasota Library (2801 Newtown Blvd) in Sarasota. To register, click here.
April 25, 5:30 pm - Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the East Broward County Solar Co-op and the West Broward County Solar Co-op at the Northwest Regional Library (3151 N. University Drive) in Coral Springs. To register, 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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