Bob Graham writes for the TC Palm – “[T]he clear desires of “the people” are being ignored by those elected to represent us in Tallahassee…A recent poll found that only 4 percent of registered voters support cutting funding to environmental programs. This…adds to the clear message sent by 75 percent of Florida voters in the 2014 election who supported Amendment 1 to restore funding to Florida’s highly successful land conservation program: Florida Forever. So what does our current state legislature do? It proposes slashing the Department of Environmental Protection’s budget by more than 25 percent and completely defunding Florida Forever…The Florida Conservation Coalition is calling for a minimum of 25 percent of all Amendment 1 funds to be dedicated to land conservation through Florida Forever and Florida Communities Trust and for increased funding for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.” Read Florida voters know what makes our state great
Lindsay Cross writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “[T]he House budget completely zeroed out funding for [Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands], while the Senate budget included just over $22 million combined for land protection programs. This equates to 0.2 percent of the transportation budget. It is unacceptable that we will readily spend $10 billion on the gray infrastructure of roads but won’t invest 1 percent of that on the green infrastructure of land conservation…As our human population grows by 1,000 people per day, it is critical that we adequately invest in programs that protect our most valuable natural and agricultural lands and water before they’re gobbled up by development…Natural and agricultural lands that include wetlands and other habitats store and naturally treat freshwater, reducing the need for artificially created reservoirs, pumps and pipes. Pavement doesn’t percolate water, so the more we can preserve both lands and waters, the better we can address our current and future needs for clean and abundant freshwater…This is the time to demand full funding of Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands Protection Program to justly spend the growing funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” Read Why is the Florida Legislature ignoring the people’s will and putting conservation programs on the chopping block?
Isadora Rangel reports for the TC Palm – “A Senate committee Monday approved a bill supporters say protects property rights, but opponents say it would put economic development above environmental conservation and quality of life…Senate Bill 940…cleared the Senate Community Affairs Community with a unanimous vote, [and] requires counties and municipalities to change their comprehensive plans…They…would have to favor economic development when drafting local ordinances and development decisions…Thomas Hawkins, policy and planning director with the environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida, which opposes [SB 940 said,] ‘Everything else in your comprehensive plan, like traffic, water and the environment and quality of life…those all [would] have to take a back set to private property rights (if SB 940 passes),’ Hawkins said.” Read Bill in Florida Senate spurs property rights vs. quality of life debate
Beth Kassab and Kevin Spear report for the Orlando Sentinel – “A pipe as big around as a semi-truck tire is on the verge of pumping natural gas under high pressure from Alabama, across a corner of Georgia, through Florida’s swamps, ranches, suburbia and a tourist strip to the heart of Central Florida…[S]afety advocates warn that pipes can fail, and when they do, gas leaks can injure or even kill…With the petroleum industry’s embrace of…fracking, natural gas has become the nation’s and, far and away, Florida’s top choice for generating electricity…The new Sabal line…each day will import as much as 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas…Pumping all that gas through a pipe 36 inches wide will require a network of factory-like compressor stations to maintain a pressure of as much as 1,456 pounds per square inch. Even without a spark of ignition, that tremendous pressure alone is capable of blowing a pipe apart…The number of onshore gas transmission line incidents reported…as “significant” has trended up over the last two decades…Last year, there were 50 incidents that caused three deaths and three injuries…The Sierra Club has pivoted from its earlier support for natural gas, now calling it a disaster on several fronts: for reports that fracking pollutes water and triggers earthquakes; for the potential danger posed by pipelines; and for undermining renewable energy efforts… ‘We are basically at the end of this fossil fuel empire and we need to transition and stop relying on fossil fuels,’ sand Panagioti Tsolkas, an organizer of the demonstrations (against Sabal Trail). ‘The protests will continue even after the gas is turned on. It’s never too late to turn it off.’…Audubon Florida has not endorsed Sabal Trail but has been supportive of FPL’s use of natural gas.” Read Sabal Trail: Pipeline brings natural gas and protests
Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “House members…say the possibility of a fracking ban is dead for the 2017 Legislative Session. Sen. Dana Young thinks it’s premature to administer last rites…The reason for the impasse is the desire by some House Republicans for a scientific study…[W]ith more than 80 Florida cities and counties already adopting ordinances or resolutions in support of a (fracking) ban, momentum looked strong for…a ban coming into session…Young said that she hadn’t spoken with House leadership… ‘What I would say is, move a bill in your chamber that has a study and a ban in it,’ [she said], ‘and then let’s let other members in on that and see where we end up.’ Miller’s bill is co-sponsored by Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz, who said…‘It’s absolutely incredible…that the citizens of Florida, if you look at the numbers, overwhelmingly support a ban on fracking…Yet once again, we have a Legislature that continues to ignore the wills and the wants of the people to serve big business.’…With 18 co-sponsors of her bill in the Senate, Young says she’ll have no problem getting the bill passed through the Legislature’s upper chamber. She said then it’s up to the House to respond in kind…[E]nvironmental groups are keeping the heat on…” Read Dana Young, environmentalists still hold hope for fracking ban in 2017
Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Lingering dry weather has dropped Lake Okeechobee’s water level below the minimum range targeted to back up South Florida’s drinking water supply…The South Florida Water Management District…called for residents and businesses to voluntarily increase water conservation efforts, such as cutting back on landscape watering…[G]etting more water to the Everglades allows more water to seep into underground supplies that South Florida communities tap for drinking water.” Read Lake Okeechobee’s water level drops below targeted range, raising water supply concerns
Kathleen Rogers and Jamie Rappaport Clark write for the Monterey Herald – “A subspecies of pronghorn, the Sonoran pronghorn is uniquely adapted to the harsh deserts of southwest Arizona and Mexico, surviving on cacti and other tough desert vegetation. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, with only about 160 remaining in the wild…The plight of [this] species and thousands of others illustrates the challenges they face as the combination of climate change and habitat destruction drives them toward extinction. If we are to have any hope of saving these species from extinction, we need sound scientific analyses of climate change and its effects on species and their habitat…Americans…hold scientists in high regard. The public…believes that good policy and regulatory decisions should be grounded in science and free from political interference. Politicians who dismiss scientific facts as “fake news” and supply their own “alternative facts” don’t just irresponsibly erode the fabric of science; they erode a quintessential American value. This month, people across the country will be demonstrating their support for science.” Read Defending the role of science on Earth Day
Judith D Schwartz writes for The Guardian – “[O]utright (climate change) denial amounts to a kind of temper tantrum, a primitive railing against the inconvenience and indignity of elemental change…[W]hen we ask what maintains our climate, the answer is water…According to Australian microbiologist Walter Jehne, water-based processes in the atmosphere and the oceans, over land and across ice, govern some 95% of Earth’s natural heat dynamics…Consider transpiration, in which plants draw up water and release it as vapour. This is a cooling mechanism, as it consumes and dissipates heat from the sun. According to Czech botanist Jan Pokorny, on a sunny day a good sized tree may transpire more than 100 litres (21 gallons) of water – a process that represents three times the cooling power of an airconditioning system in a five-star hotel room. Brazilian scientist Antonio Donato Nobre says that collectively, the trees of the Amazon rainforest create a “vertical river” even greater than the Amazon river itself…[W]e have de-vegetated a quarter of the planet – including destroying most of our natural forests…[W]e can restore ecosystems, these environments that have nurtured and sustained us, and bring heat and water dynamics back into balance…[M]ore plants mean more photosynthesis, which means more carbon pulled from the atmosphere into the soil, where it adds fertility; every 1% increase in soil organic carbon represents an additional 250,000 litres per hectare that can be held on the land; the more water held on the land, the greater resilience to floods and drought.” Read There’s another story to tell about climate change. And it starts with water
From Our Readers
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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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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 70 conservation organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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