FCC News Brief - April 5, 2017

Bob Graham writes for The Gainesville Sun Florida voters overwhelmingly support Florida Forever because they know it is the most effective way to protect Florida’s environment. It uses an unassailable science-driven process. It embraces free market economics…[C]onserved lands perform essential services just by being left alone. They provide habitats for wildlife, recharge our aquifers, filter out pollutants, mitigate the impacts of climate change, improve the quality of life of all Floridians and reduce the need for costly regulations… 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 Support for environment being ignored

Will Rogers writes for The Huffington Post – “When most people think of America’s wonderful public lands, from neighborhood parks to national parks, they think about time spent outside and memorable vacation trips with friends and family. But…most Americans don’t realize our public lands have an important role in helping fight climate change…President Trump cancelled the Climate Action Plan…That comprehensive approach used federal money and technical expertise in various ways, including designing waterfront parks as flood barriers and using forests to naturally capture and store carbons…America’s forests, farms, ranches, and wetlands offset 11% of the greenhouse gases our nation emits. And much of that happens on public land.” Read Parks and Public Land Can Help Solve Climate Change

Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Senate President Joe Negron…filed a sweeping rewrite to his top priority of building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee by abandoning plans to buy up to 60,000 acres of agricultural land and rely instead on state-owned sugar fields to store and clean water fed into Florida Bay. Under the proposed amendment to SB 10,…state-owned land southwest of Belle Glade currently leased by Florida Crystals and Dude & Sons would be converted and used to create a 14-foot deep storage reservoir. If that storage isn’t enough, the measure leaves open the possibility that the [SFWMD] may purchase additional land, beginning in 2019, by bonding up to $1.2 billion. The proposal reduces the total cost of the plan from $2.4 billion in state and federal funds to $1.5 billion. The state’s share would be $750 million, which includes an additional $100 million (annually) in Legacy Florida Funds, bringing the total amount from the documentary stamp tax earmarked by the 2014 Land Acquisition Trust Fund to $300 million (annually)…The [SFWMD]…would be required to accelerate its planning schedule for Everglades restoration from 2021 to 2018…Water regulators also would have to use a specific water quality model known as the Dynamic Model for Stormwater Treatment Areas and, if the water in the reservoir violates water quality standards, the district must come up with a plan to purchase additional land form ‘willing sellers.’” Read Joe Negron offers compromise on key proposal, the Everglades reservoir

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River would be cut in half by a water storage project being planned north of the lake, federal officials said…The options involve a combination of reservoirs ranging in volume from 87 billion gallons to 142.2 billion gallons, shallow wells that can hold water and bring it back when needed and deep wells designed to hold water permanently…Planning is scheduled to be finished by summer 2019 with a report to Congress asking for money to begin designing and building the projects…The project’s ability to keep water out of the estuaries is inflated because the modeling assumes the lake will be able to hold more water after repairs to the dike…are completed, said Paul Gray, a Lake O expert for Florida Audubon. The Corps’ official position has always been that there’s no guarantee the lake will be able to hold more water after the dike is repaired. Plus, keeping more water in the lake is harmful to many of the plants and animals that live there, Gray said. Extra water would be held in the lake for ‘a brief period of time, a couple of months,’ not permanently and not long enough to cause environmental damage, countered Walter Wilcox, a water district modeling section administrator.” Read Army Corps: Storing water north of Lake Okeechobee will cut discharges in half

Jim Ash reports for WFSU – “Senator Rob Bradley says he will not schedule another meeting of the natural resources committee he chairs, the (fracking ban) bill’s next stop. Bradley voted for the ban, but says it’s pointless to take up the measure when the House is refusing to go along.” Read Chairman Pulls the Plug on Fracking Ban

Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “In the last 15 years, Florida’s four investor-owned utilities have lost close to $7 billion due to natural gas hedging programs. That’s because the utilities have purchased much of their gas through hedging contracts at locked-in prices rather than on the open market, and gas prices have declined for the most part. Those losses have been passed to customers…even though the drop in natural gas prices should have saved them money. Even so, FPL, Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric have asserted they should be allowed to continue the practice…Florida Industrial Power Users Group…attorney Jon Moyle compared hedging to gambling, and said that some gamblers set loss limits before they enter a casino… ‘We would respectfully suggest, maybe $7 billion is the limit with respect to going to the casino…,’ Moyle said…Bradley Marshall, an EarthJustice attorney representing the Sierra Club, said: ‘…We are faced with utilities that are over-reliant on natural gas, generating 70 percent of electricity from a single source.’…More emphasis should be placed on renewable energy such as solar and energy efficiency, Marshall said.” Read Hedging costs Florida consumers $7 billion – why start again?

Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic – “National Geographic will be maintaining an abbreviated timeline of the Trump administration’s environmental actions and policy changes, as well as reactions to them. We will update this article periodically as news develops.” Read A Running List of How Trump is Changing the Environment

Timothy Cama reports for The Hill – “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order…overturning a ban on using lead ammunition on wildlife refuges…[The ban] was meant to help prevent plants and animals from being poisoned by lead left on the ground or in the water…Lead is standard in ammunition, and lead-free bullets are more expensive…Athan Manuel, public lands director for the [Sierra Club said,] ‘Overturning the lead ammunition ban may win political points with a few special interests, but it could cost the lives of millions of birds and the health of families that rely on game to feed their families.’” Read Interior secretary repeals ban on lead bullets






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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 resourcewisdom@gmail.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 mrivera@clermontfl.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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