The Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board writes – “[T]he Southwest Florida Water Management District board made two major decisions that could change the river’s ecology and health for generations to come…The first decision…was its approval of a long-overdue minimum flows and levels for Rainbow Springs and the 5-mile river they feed…The second decision was the approval of a $3.9 million deal to acquire the long-contentious Rainbow River Ranch property on the eastern shore of the river…The land will become part of the adjoining Rainbow Springs State Park and is seen by both water district officials and local residents as an important step in protecting the river from further human-related degradation. The river’s champions heralded the land buy, which was financed by Florida Forever…along with a $250,000 gift from the non-profit Nature Conservancy…Swiftmud…should be applauded for this wise conservation initiative. Yet, setting the MFLs even lower than the springs/river are flowing at today is baffling…[W]e do not need science to tell us the Rainbow is in a state of steady decline…and taking more water from it can in no way be defended as sound water policy, or even sound science.” Read A paradox on the Rainbow
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “A plan to build a reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges has stalled in the Florida House, and supporters might have to wait until the 11th hour to find out whether Senate President Joe Negron can pull it off…This is Negron’s top priority…so it’s beneficial for Speaker Richard Corcoran to hold it hostage until the Senate supports some of his priorities, such as K-12 funding, cutting business incentives, charter school expansion and judicial term limits…So the questions become: What is Negron willing to trade Corcoran in exchange for the reservoir…Will Negron play hard ball and risk a budget shutdown?...Corcoran…said…he’s waiting for the Senate to pass its bill and send it to the House. But his leadership team…said there’s little appetite for building a reservoir south of the lake…Bradley said he will amend Senate Bill 10 before its last committee stop Wednesday…There are talks about considering using some land the state already owns so it can take less than 60,000 acres of farmland out of production, said Sen. Tom Lee…Lee, a former Senate president, said…the proposal could come up during budget negotiations between the chambers, or Corcoran could bring it up for a House floor vote as late as he wants before May 5…Negron still has to get his own chamber behind his proposal. Bradley tried to garner more support for the reservoir bill…by adding provisions to…fund other restoration projects and pay for septic-to-sewer conversions and a loan program for water storage with a focus on water supply. Those changes fractured support among environmental groups. Florida Conservation Voters and 1,000 Friends of Florida denounced the bill for using money available through Amendment 1…to pay for those water infrastructure projects. The groups have pushed for the pot of money available through the measure…to buy more natural and agricultural lands before they get developed.” Read Lake Okeechobee reservoir stalled in the House, but don’t count defeat yet
Mark Perry writes for the TC Palm – “The state needs to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area to complete a critical storage project that is part of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan. I have served on the state’s Water Resource Advisory Commission of the South Florida Water Management District for 11 years and have seen many presentations by the district which supported these same land purchases and projects in the EAA. But in the past 4 years, it seems the district has turned an about-face. The district’s Governing Board apparently is directing its staff to take a stand against anything that suggests buying land in the EAA or moving water south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and Florida Bay…Back in 2002, District scientist Ken Tarboton presented the “EAA Storage Reservoirs Modeling” showing that, together with the other CERP projects, the EAA storage project will reduce Lake Okeechobee releases by 94 percent to the St. Lucie River and 92 percent to the Caloosahatchee River. I don’t think the district would call its own science, “fake” science…It’s amazing how things change in a few years. The state should buy the land now before lawmakers strip all the funds out of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” Read EAA land is key for restoration plan
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Rob L. Lord Jr., president and CEO of the nonprofit hospital system (Martin Health System), called on the Florida Legislature to approve the plan to build a reservoir on farmland south of Lake Okeechobee… ‘This is not a political stand; this is a public health stand,’ Lord said…When the algae was at its worst last summer, emergency rooms in the hospital system saw an increase in symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, coughing, shortness of breath, gout and achy limbs and joints, said Dr. Steve Parr, director of emergency medicine at the system’s Tradition Medical Center.” Read Martin Health System CEO endorses Sen. Joe Negron’s southern reservoir plan
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The clash of titans over the reservoir has obscured a broader question: Can humans make an artificial version of the Everglades that works the way the original did?...In 2000, then-Vice President Al Gore unveiled a complex plan to restore something akin to the original flow, if not the original expanse. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan won bipartisan approval from both the Florida Legislature and Congress, which agreed to split the cost between the state and federal government 50-50.” Read Fight over building Lake Okeechobee reservoir shows how delay in Everglades restoration has hurt Florida
Jerry Iannelli reports for the Miami New Times – “Study after study has recently shown that solar energy is getting cheap. Scores of workers have been hired to make the panels. According to a study released this week by the nonprofit Solar Foundation, solar jobs in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach metropolitan area jumped 31 percent last year – a huge rise…[T]housands of people already work in solar jobs down here…Frank Jackalone, the (Sierra Club’s Florida) chapter’s president, said… [,] ‘We can and must go further…Now is the time for action and for the mayors of Florida cities to stand on the side of more jobs by supporting the goal of 100 percent clean energy.’…Florida added 1,700 (solar) jobs (in 2016) and now has 8,260. Of the total, 3,933 are in installation-related, 1,021 are in manufacturing, 945 are in sales, and 1,936 are in the ‘project development’ sector.” Read Study shows South Florida Gained Hundreds of Solar Jobs Last Year
Tom DiChristopher reports for CNBC – “President…Trump’s effort to roll back Obama-era climate change policies will not do much to improve demand for coal at America’s power plants, Royal Dutch Shell Chairman Chad Holliday said...Coal’s use in U.S. power plants has been falling for years in the face of stiff competition from natural gas. President Barack Obama’s initiatives…have hastened the retirement of old, inefficient coal-fired plants and the switch to cleaner-burning natural gas…[T]he Trump administration lifted Obama’s moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land and set in motion the repeal of his landmark Clean Power Plan…Holliday suggested Trump’s [efforts]…would not greatly alter utilities’ plans for how they will provide power in the future. ‘The marketplace looks at the long-term consequences, and rolling back a ruling for a few years, or however long it turns out to be, or until it’s replaced with something else – I think companies look at fundamental economics,’ he said.” Read Trump’s climate change executive order won’t change coal’s fortunes, Shell chair says
Brady Dennis reports for The Washington Post – “The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency refused…to ban a commonly used pesticide that the Obama administration had sought to outlaw based on mounting concerns about its risks to human health. The chemical compound chlorphyrifos, also known as Lorsban, has been used by farmers for more than a half-century to kill pests on crops including broccoli, strawberries and citrus. The EPA…[sought] to ban its use in agriculture, after mounting scientific evidence that prenatal exposure can pose risks to fetal brain and nervous system development.” Read EPA chief, rejecting agency’s own analysis, declines to ban pesticide despite health concerns
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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. To watch a promotional video, 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 21, 9:30 am – Attend a celebration of Sierra Club Founder John Muir’s Birthday in Brooksville. There will be a guided trail walk and a picnic luncheon featuring Jerry Cowling as John Muir. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
April 22, 7:30 am – Attend Clermont Earth Day & Lake Clean-Up 2017 at the Lake Hiawatha Preserve (450 N. 12 St./SR 561) (West of the roundabout) in Clermont. To register for the Lake Clean Up, click here. Several prizes will be given to volunteers for most weight, youngest participant, oldest participant, oddest object found, etc. Pre-registrants will be given T-shirts. After the clean up, there will be environmental education, an earth kids zone, DJ music and entertainment, food vendors, prizes, and more! For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 394 – 3500.
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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