Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “A bill moving through the Florida House to implement…[Amendment 4] by giving tax breaks to businesses that install solar energy panels is under fire for…[imposing] impediments to rooftop solar installation. The bill, HB 1351 by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, was passed unanimously by the House Energy and Utilities Subcommittee…but only after several legislators expressed reservations…Under the bill, any company that installs rooftop solar would be required to file more than 20 financial disclosures relating to their business practices, calculate a customers’ energy savings based on future, not past, energy rates, follow new codes and standards and face new…penalties for violations. In addition, the Florida Public Service Commission would have new power to impose new rules related to solar safety and performance…But members of the solar industry told the committee that safety requirements are already in place, and the Solar Energy Industry Association already requires its members to adhere to best practices and disclosures intended to weed out bad actors and benefit consumers…Sen. Jeff Brandes…, the Senate sponsor of the bill to authorize implementation of Amendment 4, said he does not support the added “consumer” language in Rodrigues’ proposal. ‘My position is that voters clearly gave us direction and we want to operate simply within the scope of the direction that 73 percent of the voters provided,’ Brandes [said.] ‘I have had zero constituents come to me asking me to do anything more than what Amendment 4 authorized.’” Read Critics: Bill to implement solar tax breaks has become a vehicle for solar barriers
Wayne T. Price reports for Florida Today – “[A] report released…by Oceana…shows shark-related dives in Florida generated more than $221 million in direct revenue and fueled over 3,700 jobs last year…[T]he market for shark fin in the United States…was $1.03 million enterprise in 2015…[I]t’s more economical to view sharks than to kill them. ‘…In Florida alone, the revenue generated by [shark-based tourism] is more than 200 times that of the national fin trade,’ Oceana campaign director Lora Snyder said. ‘However, 25 percent of sharks and their relatives are threatened with extinction, in part due to the global fin trade.’…[The] shark fin trade involves “finning,” cutting the fins off a shark and discarding its body at sea, often still alive. The sharks eventually bleed to death or are consumed by another sea predator…[W]hile shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, shark fins continue to be bought and sold throughout the U.S. Eleven states have bans on shark fin products, though Florida isn’t one of them.” Read Sharks are big business in Florida
Eric Hasert reports for the TC Palm – “Rep. Randy Fine said when he filed a bill to mandate septic tank inspections as part of real estate sales, he didn’t expect it to be controversial. Home buyers and sellers pay for termite and roof inspections, so ensuring a septic system is functioning properly and not polluting nearby water bodies seemed logical, he said. But he’s faced some pushback form lawmakers concerned about burdening homeowners…Fine…reduced the scope of his bill from applying to the entire state to only areas the Department of Environmental Protection has designated as impaired waterways. He says that covers about one-third of Florida…House Bill 285 cleared its first House committee Tuesday with a 9-5 vote. Also Tuesday, a Senate committee unanimously approved [SB 874] that would allocate $20 million to help property owners retrofit or convert septic tanks DEP says are polluting the lagoon and rivers, or help local governments dredge muck and do stormwater improvement projects along those estuaries…[S]ome environmental groups have an issue with using money from Amendment 1, which voters approved in 2014 for land conservation, to pay for Senate Bill 874.” Read Addressing septic tank pollution can be controversial
Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics – “Bills that would expand Florida’s efforts to control Burmese pythons and other invasive species and to require companies to report toxic spills moved swiftly through a Senate committee Tuesday morning.” Read Bills to expand python control, pollution reporting move on
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “By agreeing to save Enterprise Florida, Negron could win the governor’s support for SB 10…Or by agreeing to kill Enterprise Florida, the Stuart Republican would win over House Speaker Richard Corcoran…who is dead set on shutting down Scott’s job promotion agency…Eikenberg (CEO of the Everglades Foundation)…pointed out that so far Negron and the Senate have taken no position on Corcoran’s war on Scott’s job-promotion agency.” Read Joe Negron’s Lake Okeechobee bill could decide Enterprise Florida’s fate
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Historic legislation to protect the Everglades and waterways throughout Florida continues to gain momentum in the Legislature. Not only should Tallahassee act this year, Tallahassee must act this year.” Read Help the Everglades, help the economy
Patricia Mazzei reports for the Miami Herald – “The New York Times has created an interesting set of maps…about how much people in congressional districts across the country care about climate change – and South Florida consistently sticks out as a place where the issue is important…Researchers also found a split within Florida, with South Florida more concerned about global warming than their North Florida counterparts.” Read South Florida cares about climate change more than many other places
Jon Sharman reports for the Independent – “Financial officials from the world’s biggest economies have dropped from a joint statement any mention of financing action on climate change, reportedly following pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia…It did, however, say: ‘We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out, over the medium term, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption…” Read US ‘forces G20 to drop any mention of climate change’ in joint statement
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 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 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 email@example.com.
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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