Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The Florida Legislature… agreed to pay for a 78.2 billion gallon reservoir south of the lake to help curtail discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. The reservoir is two-thirds the size of the… project sought by Senate President… Joe Negron and numerous environmentalists. The larger reservoir, combined with other water control projects already in the pipeline, was estimated to reduce annual average Lake O discharges… by about 90 percent… Gary Goforth,… who used to design water projects for the South Florida Water Management District… estimated the smaller reservoir, when combined with other water control projects, could hold back 30 to 60 percent of discharges. To improve that, he said, there needs to be a new outlet on the south side of Lake O and a new canal connecting the lake and the reservoir.” Read Would smaller reservoir help curb Lake Okeechobee discharges?
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell wants to carve out a fund for Florida Forever land preservation program after meager funding from the Legislature in recent years. His proposal would provide $57 million from 2018 through 2020 and gradually increase that amount to $200 million by the last year… Conservationists drafted Amendment 1 because Florida Forever, which used to get roughly $300 million, lost most of its funding after the Great Recession. The program has paid for parks… and wildlife corridors, among other things… Moncrief (of Florida Conservation Voters) said…, ‘We appreciate Rep. Matt Caldwell for bringing much-needed attention back to Florida Forever, but the funding levels presented today are simply not good enough.’ Caldwell said his proposal establishes a minimum for land conservation funding, and the Legislature could invest more money. Plus, you have to figure in the annual debt service the state has to pay for borrowing money for Florida Forever, Caldwell said. Combine that with the allocations in his proposal, and the program would get $200 million annually, he said… Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper was more optimistic, calling the proposal ‘very encouraging’ because it prevents funding from fluctuating according to the will of future lawmakers… ‘There are those of us who think there’s significant value to conservation,’ [Rep. Caldwell] said.” Read Environmentalists are underwhelmed by Matt Caldwell’s Florida Forever plan
Lucas Daprile reports for the TC Palm – “Florida must dispose of about 320,000 tons of treated human waste a year… [S]cientists and environmentalists say there’s no good reason the state should keep dumping most of it on farms as free fertilizer because it can overload watersheds with toxic algae-spurring nitrogen and phosphorus… Instead, Florida could treat Class B waste to the higher Class AA standard – meaning nearly no bacteria or heavy metals, but the same amount of nitrogen and phosphorus – and sell it as refined, commercial fertilizer. Or it could ship the waste to states where nutrient-deficient soils need extra nitrogen and phosphorus to grow crops… Lee County… sold $263,277 worth of its “OrganicLee’ fertilizer to customers… in 2015… In Florida, the demand for such refined biosolids has long exceeded the supply… If more Florida counties produced a similar product, the state potentially could lessen its reliance on imports… ‘It’s better for the material to be sold…,’ Audubon Florida advocacy director Charless Lee said, ‘because then the economic factors… will cause most buyers to be conservative with the amount that they buy and the amount they use.’ That’s not the best solution, argued Gary Roderick, a former DEP administrator… -Unlike chemical fertilizers, there isn’t a viable way to control nitrogen and phosphorus levels in human waste that’s treated for Class AA fertilizer use. With the needed nitrogen often comes off-the-charts levels of unneeded phosphorus that runs off into surface waters. – It’s too inexpensive to deter overuse; chemical fertilizers cost 10 to 100 times more… Whether it’s Class B or Class AA, get it out of Florida, Roderick said… At least 33 states have a higher percentage of soils that need extra phosphorus to grow crops than Florida, where only 18 percent are deficient… However, the cost of shipping such a low-value, high-weight product 1,200 miles – plus the amount of fossil fuels needed to do it- make it an unviable solution, Nelson (a former U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist) said.” Read Experts: Florida should sell, export human waste, not dump it on farms
The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board writes – “Florida Power & Light’s wholly owned subsidiary, the Florida Legislature, is moving toward allowing the state’s largest electric utility to charge customers for its natural gas fracking projects in other states. This is nothing but a massive handout to a powerful monopoly at the expense of consumers who should not have to pay for this. If fracking is that promising, the utility’s shareholders should shoulder the financial responsibility. FPL sought permission from the Public Service Commission in 2014 to recoup its investment in a venture with an Oklahoma-based fracking company… [T]he PSC approved the move, later expanding the ruling by giving FPL – under some conditions – the authority to participate in future gas projects without the commission’s prior approval. But the Florida Supreme Court reversed the PSC orders last year… So after it lost in court, FPL turned to a friendlier venue. The bill, SB 1238, approved Tuesday by the Senate Rules Committee and headed toward the full Senate, is designed to overturn the court’s decision… The committee passed the bill 7-3, with no votes from Sens. Jeff Brandes,…; Tom Lee…; and Bill Montford… While [FPL] predicted the effort would save customers millions in fuel costs, it resulted in a loss of $5.6 million in the first year.” Read Don’t make FPL customers pay for fracking
Zac Anderson reports for the Herald Tribune – “Legislation sponsored by two Sarasota Republicans that cracks down on the practice of shark finning cleared the Florida House Wednesday and heads to the governor for final approval. The bill increases penalties for those caught harvesting shark fins in Florida waters. Fines would start at $4,500, instead of $500, and go up to $9,500. A third violation would result in the permanent loss of a commercial fishing license… [F]ishermen still are allowed to harvest whole sharks and remove their fins onshore, although in limited numbers. Federal legislation targeting the shark fin trade is in the works. If that does not pass, (Rep.) Miller said she’d likely try again next year to completely outlaw the possession and sale of shark fins in Florida. ‘Animals and animal welfare has always been very important to me,’ said Miller, who is the former president of the Suncoast Humane Society.” Read Shark fin bill sponsored by Sarasota lawmakers clears Legislature
Michael Van Sickler reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Scott… urged the Florida Legislature to include $200 million in the state budget for the Herbert Hoover Dike. Scott said President Donald Trump told him last week that he would be a “partner” to make sure improvements are made to the dike… ‘The politicians in Tallahassee are not including the $200 million in the state budget,’ Scott said. ‘Think about that. Two hundred million dollars out of an $82 + billion budget. We should care about our environment. President Trump cares about the environment. (In) his campaign, he talked about making sure we fixed Lake Okeechobee...’” Read Rick Scott: Trump cares about environment, state lawmakers don’t
Alexandra Glorioso and Eric Staats report for the Naples Daily News – “Florida’s beaches would receive $50 million next year for renourishment projects in the state budget being negotiated by legislative leaders, but a bill to overhaul the way the state manages its coasts faces an uncertain future. ‘It’s a big win to get $50 million in the budget for beaches…’ said Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala,… who made beach funding a top priority this legislative session.” Read ‘Big win’: Florida beaches score $50 million in state budget
Amy Sherman reports for the Miami Herald – “In a pre-emptive strike, Sen. Bill Nelson and other Democrats… filed legislation to block the Trump administration from opening up additional areas to offshore drilling… The action comes a day before President Trump is expected to sign an executive order calling for a review of drilling. Nelson says that would require the Interior Department to alter the current five-year oil and gas leasing plan that took effect earlier this year and expires in 2022. That plan prohibits oil and gas drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic Coast. The new legislation would prohibit changes to the current plan. Nelson had previously filed legislation to extend the ban to 2027.” Read Awaiting Trump executive order, Bill Nelson files bill to block more oil drilling
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
April 29, 10:00 am – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Pensacola. The march will start at Long Hollow Park (1001 N. Guillemard St.). For more information click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 29, 10:00 am - Participate in the People’s Climate March in West Palm Beach. The march will start at George Petty Park and head to Mar-a-Lago. For more information click here or contact Patrick Ferguson at (954) 288 - 4234.
April 29, 10:00 am – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Tampa. For more information, click here.
April 29, 12:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Tallahassee. For more information, click here.
April 29, 1:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March in Orlando. Tim Canova, and U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch will speak. For more information, click here.
April 29, 1:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March for Jacksonville. For more information, click here.
April 29, 2:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March for Broward County. For more information and to sign up, click here.
April 29, 2:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March for Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. For more information, click here.
April 29, 3:00 pm – Participate in the People’s Climate March for Gainesville. For more information, click here.
April 30, 3:00 pm – Attend a free "Solar Co-op Information Meeting" for the Alachua County Solar Co-op at the Alachua County Library Headquarters (401 East University Ave.) in Gainesville. For more information and to RSVP click here.
May 21, 3:00 pm – Attend a free “Solar Co-op Information Meeting” for the Alachua County Solar Co-op at the Alachua Library Branch (14913 NW 140 Street) in Alachua. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
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