Marc Caputo and Bruce Ritchie report for Politico Florida – “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio put Florida Senate President Joe Negron’s Everglades reservoir proposal on life support by saying that the plan wouldn’t get federal money any time soon and would wipe out farming communities by turning them into ‘ghost towns.’ Rubio’s comments…were greeted with a measure of ‘relief,’ a Republican state senator said, by members who ‘don’t want to walk the plank’ by voting on the $2.4 billion proposal that’s opposed by farmers, some African-American lawmakers, many Republican legislators, and even an environmental group concerned that the plan takes too much money away from other projects…As a member of the U.S. Senate’s budget committee, Rubio is a needed ally to help get the federal government to pay for half of the 60,000-acre reservoir…Caldwell said the Florida Senate proposal ‘has morphed radically’ as it encountered troubles in Negron’s own chamber. To curry more support in the Florida Senate, the bill was recently changed to include more environmental projects…The bill also would shift bonding authority away from the state land-buying program and shift the program’s focus to water resource protection and development. Despite the effort to build support, opposition is bubbling beneath the surface in the Florida Senate…Negron’s ‘conflicted allies will tell him it’s an exercise in futility and convince him to blame Rubio,’ said a Republican senator…Adding to the challenges the bill faces is the opposition from the environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida, which opposes the way the Florida Senate bill was changed…St. Johns Riverkeeper also is opposing the bill.” Read With ‘ghost towns’ comment, Rubio puts Everglades reservoir plan on life support
Ledyard King reports for USA Today – “Supporters for Everglades restoration are worried President Trump’s proposal to slash $1 billion from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget next year could derail hard-fought progress…‘We have been doing Everglades restoration for 20 years,’ [Sen. Bill Nelson] said in an interview. ‘We need to keep it going because we’re just now getting projects authorized. The final projects that will really redirect (flow) and get that cleaner water moving south, you can’t do it out of thin air. You’ve got to have the appropriations.’ And it’s not just the Everglades that could be affected by the cut, he said, referring to the Corps’ other water projects in the Sunshine State: port dredging, beach replenishment and flood control…The proposed cut comes at a time when the Florida Legislature is considering an ambitious $2.4 billion plan to buy $60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee to build a reservoir to store water. Washington would be asked to provide half of that amount…Adding that request to the list of projects already authorized would complicate efforts at a time of limited resources, said Rep. Francis Rooney…who has helped lead delegation efforts to push for Everglades funding.” Read Cut to corps could throw cold water on Everglades restoration efforts
Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “According to [the district’s] proposed minimum flow rules, Silver springs, with a documented long-term flow reduction of more than 32 percent, will suffer an additional loss of 10 million gallons per day (mgd). Current flows at Rainbow Springs are more than 20 percent below historic flows, yet the Southwest Florida district is poised to allow an additional reduction of 20 mgd…To justify [these] illogical and inconsistent [decisions], the water management districts are trusting flawed groundwater models rather than real data in their own reports…Along with their proposed minimum flow, the St. Johns River district has developed a protection strategy that is intended to pull Silver Springs back from the brink of disaster…Its proposal is to spend up to $59 million of tax- and rate-payers’ money to restore 20 mgd of lost flows at Silver Springs. Do the math. That’s almost $3 million to recover each million gallons per day of flow at the springs. Sleepy Creek is expecting to obtain a second groundwater permit that will allow them to withdraw 2.5 mgd from the aquifer to keep their cow’s grass green. With a price tag of $3 million per mgd, their permit will cost the equivalent of $7.5 million in public projects. It would be cheaper and more environmentally protective to just cover their fields with green backs and not reduce the flow to Silver Springs.” Read The true price of green grass
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “In advance of a …dredging project at Port Everglades, the U.S. Corps of Engineers published a fact sheet…But it turns out some answers in the Frequently Asked Questions were wrong or incomplete. A photograph reportedly showing healthy coral after the PortMiami dredge was actually taken six months before dredging started. And a description of the Corps’ efforts in Miami, which it plans on replicating in Fort Lauderdale, said the agency followed environmental rules. But during the work in Miami, the Corps was repeatedly warned by federal and state wildlife agencies that dredging the port had killed far more coral than allowed under a permit and needed to be corrected…Corps spokeswoman Susan Jackson said in an email the Corps intends to correct the fact sheet, which was distributed at a meeting in February and posted on the agency’s web site. But she declined to say what corrections would be made or if they would be issued before Monday (when a public comment period is slated to end).” Read Faulty Corps ‘fact’ sheet on Port Everglades dredge drawing fire
Kate Bradshaw writes for Creative Loafing – “[A] group of Florida lawmakers gathered on the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday morning…Republicans…joined Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates…[to] push [bills] that would ban [fracking.] ‘Loving our environment and wanting to protect our environment is not a partisan issue,’ said Republican State Senator…Dana Young…[T]he…proponents [of bills to ban fracking (SB 442 and HB 35)] are urging Floridians to contact their Senator and Representative to ask them to support the ban.” Read On steps of the Florida Capitol, Republicans and Democrats alike call for statewide fracking ban
Jeffrey Schweers reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Without comment or fanfare, the Tallahassee City Commission Wednesday voted unanimously to ban fracking. The decision makes Tallahassee the 75th city or county in Florida to prohibit the highly controversial practice…Under Tallahassee’s ordinance, no company can extract oil or natural gas or perform any well stimulation treatments or store waste from such operations in the city limits.” Read Commissioners say fracking ban will protect water supply
The National Parks Conservation Association shares – “The Burnett Oil Company has set March 27 as the date they will begin the process of surveying for oil and gas resources beneath Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, even as a federal judge has yet to rule whether the work can proceed.” Read Oil, Gas Exploration to Begin Within Big Cypress National Preserve
The Herald Tribune Editorial Board writes – “In 2016, the SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) reported, Florida recorded 404 solar-energy installations – almost a tenfold increase over the 43 recorded in 2015…The SEIA expects Florida to almost quadruple its megawatts of solar power over the next five years, from the current 686 MW to 2,475 MW. This burst of solar activity is the result of several factors – a 62 price decline over the last five years, plus legislative action, voter support and private initiatives…Florida Power & Light deserves credit for increasing its solar capacity with the Dec. 31 start-up of Solar Energy Centers in Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. The three centers generate 225 megawatts, enough to power 60,000 homes, and FPL has plans to build eight more centers…FL Sun helps Florida neighborhood cooperatives use volume purchases of solar equipment to get discounts of up to 25 percent…All these efforts help, but Florida has a long way to go…Florida is among a handful of states that prohibit third-party sales…” Read Florida is gaining solar strength
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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