The News Service of Florida reports – “Florida’s “water war” with Georgia is not over. The U.S. Supreme Court said…that more legal briefs will be filed in the case, including allowing Florida to contest a special master’s report that recommended a ruling in Georgia’s favor. [This]…could extend a decision by the nation’s highest court into late June…The fundamental obstacle for Florida remains Special Master Ralph Lancaster’s finding that there could be no settlement between Florida and Georgia without the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was not a party to the lawsuit but controls water flow in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system…But Florida’s legal team could use the briefs to amplify Lancaster’s other findings, including the statement that ‘there is little question that Florida has suffered harm from decreased flows in the (Apalachicola) River.’ He also rejected Georgia’s claim that Florida’s alleged mismanagement of the oyster beds in Apalachicola Bay had led to the industry’s decline, and he called the expansion of agricultural use of water in Georgia ‘largely unrestrained.’” Read U.S. Supreme Court Seeks More Info Regarding Florida-Georgia ‘Water War’
Emelia Hitchner reports for The Florida Times Union – “[A] Florida Senate bill banning the sale and trade of shark fins was amended last week, weakening its original intent. Originally…, Senate Bill 884 would have thwarted the lucrative business of shark fin sales…But under the amended version, language regarding sale and trade has been eliminated. Instead, SB 884 clarifies serious punishment for fishers found in possession of fins…Shark finning is the practice of removing and retaining shark fins at sea while discarding the remainder of the shark’s body. Fins are used for shark fin soup, a popular Asian dish. Florida prohibited finning in 1992, with federal law following in 2000, by requiring sharks be landed in whole condition. In 2010, the Shark Conservation Act strengthened prohibition, making it unlawful to…have possession of fins aboard a fishing vessel or transfer fins from one vessel to another at sea…In 2011,…the U.S. exported 38 tons and imported 58 tons of shark fins…Oceana reports that fins from as many as 73 million sharks make it into the global market every year, with more than 70 percent of the most common shark species involved with fin trade considered at risk for extinction…[I]n Florida, tourism profits lean heavily on live shark experiences...Handy (of Oceana) said for now, she’s keeping her fingers crossed a recent federal bill called the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act (H.R. 1456), will make it through the Legislature and trump state laws.” Read Sale and trade of shark fins to continue in Florida, despite threat to ecosystem, tourism
Eric Eikenberg writes for FL Keys News – “The Keys…[draws] visitors from every point on the globe who come to experience the world-class sport fishing, boating and sailing, diving and scuba in the crystal clear waters of Florida Bay…Florida Bay now gets just one-third of the fresh water that once naturally flowed south from Lake Okeechobee…[B]illions of gallons of excess fresh water has been wasted: flushed into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers…As every fishing guide along the Keys can tell you, the lack of fresh water has altered salinity levels, killing off thousands of acres of seagrass where the Bay’s champion sport fish spawn and feed…Later, as the seagrass disintegrates, it is replaced by bacteria – algae – that turns the crystal clear waters of the Bay into a cloudy pea soup. Anglers don’t travel to a place without sport fish. Boaters and divers don’t spend their time looking at…dirty dishwater. And people don’t want homes looking out on a dying Florida Bay…Senate Bill 10 and its companion, House Bill 761 – deserve our full support.” Read South reservoir essential to Florida Bay’s health and the Keys economy
Ashley Collins reports for the Naples Daily News – “U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney took a helicopter tour of the Everglades…with a California congressman considered key to making progress toward securing more federal funding for restoration projects…Rooney’s focus has been on finishing projects already approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. That is a departure from an approach advocated by Florida Senate President Joe Negron…and some Everglades advocates…All of Florida’s members of Congress signed a letter asking President Donald Trump to support Everglades restoration funding in his fiscal 2017-18 budget. In an initial budget blueprint released last week,…[t]he army Corps of Engineers, the federal partner with Florida on Everglades restoration, took a 16.3 percent cut, leaving a budget of $1 billion.” Read U.S. Rep. Rooney, California colleague tour Everglades to discuss restoration aid
UF/IFAS Extension writes for Growing Florida – “Farmers and ranchers have implemented Best Management Practices (MBPs)…on their lands for many years on a voluntary basis. But, for those who farm within an area with a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), things have changed and BMP implementation is now required…A BMAP is a management plan developed for a waterbody that does not meet the water quality standards set by the state. Once a waterbody is listed as impaired…the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) sets a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for each pollutant. The TMDL is the maximum amount of a given pollutant allowed in the waterbody while still meeting water quality standards. The goal of the BMAP is to reduce the pollutant to meet the TMDL…A producer within a BMAP must show they are either implementing BMPs adopted by the Florida Department of Consumer Services (FDACS), or monitoring water quality as directed by FDEP or a water management district, at their own expense. Simply enrolling land in the FDACS BMP Program is not enough to be compliant. It is extremely important for producers to maintain accurate records to show that they are implementing BMPs. Local FDACS field staff are there to help…” Read BMAPs, BMPs and the New Florida Water Bill
Michael Moline reports for Florida Politics – “Gulf Power Co. will settle for nearly $62 million per year in increased rates for its customers in Northwest Florida, rather than the $106.8 million it had planned to seek from the Public Service Commission… ‘We are glad that Gulf Power has agreed to do the right thing,’ Bradley Marshall, an attorney for Earthjustice, said… ‘Raising this fixed charge on monthly bills would have unfairly penalized people who use less energy, and that makes no sense,’ he said…Representatives of the [Southern Alliance for Clean Energy] said the base-rate hike was an attempt to shift onto Florida ratepayers costs associated with two-coal burning plants in Georgia, where long-term customer agreements were winding down.” Read Settlement reached in Gulf Power’s bid for $106.8 million base rate increase
Linda Bystrak reports for the Daily Commercial – “In the newly proposed EPA budget there is a 19 percent reduction in staff and a 25 percent reduction in overall funding…[T]here is a 35 percent reduction for Safe and Sustainable Water Resources and a 13 percent drop in compliance Monitoring. There is a 30 percent cut to states for each of the programs dealing with water pollution control, drinking water and underground Injection. In Florida, most of our drinking water comes from our aquifers, and the practice of aquifer storage and recharge or underground injection for reclaimed sewage water is not uncommon…Unfortunately, there is also a 94 percent reduction in research programs for endocrine disrupting chemicals (pesticides, drugs, and chemicals suspected of affecting hormones)…[T]he 100 percent cut to states for beach water quality testing and the 15 percent reduction in the marine pollution program may have an effect on Floridians…EPA needs our support now more than ever. Phone calls and e-mails to your congressman are desperately needed. Ask them to stop the cuts to the EPA budget…We owe it to our children and grandchildren.” Read EPA and our water is under attack
Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post – “The Interior Department’s budget would be slashed by nearly $2 billion compared with last year’s budget, according to a proposed spending plan from the Trump White House. A proposed 12 percent decrease to $11.6 billion would cause pain in the offices that purchase public lands. That part of Interior would lose $120 million in funding under the proposal…The budget synopsis said the White House will increase funding for extracting energy on land and offshore but does not provide a figure…According to the synopsis, funding cuts to major land acquisition will be diverted to national parks, which have a maintenance shortfall of more than $12 billion…Land-acquisition funding has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress…” Read Interior Department budget could be slashed by 12 percent
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 21, 7:30 pm – Attend a screening of Troubled Waters, Connections and Consequences at the Tampa Theatre (711 N Franklin Street) in Tampa. The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring water experts.
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.
March 24, 8:30 AM – Attend Solar PV: Is it for me? in Tallahassee. For tickets and more information, 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 email@example.com.
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 9, 1:00 pm – Attend the 2017 Our Santa Fe RiverFest & Songwriting Contest in Fort White. There will be live music, a silent auction, and food! For more information and tickets, click here.
April 12, 12:45 pm – Attend The Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library community room in The Villages. Presenters include Lloyd Singleton, UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension Agent; Matt Keene, award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and St Johns Riverkeeper 2015 Advocate of the Year; and Jamie Letendre, FDEP Environmental Specialist of St. Martins Marsh & Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves. Matt Keened will speak about the Rodman Dam. For more information and to RSVP, email 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
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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