The Daytona Beach News Journal Editorial Board writes – “[S]tate lawmakers… approved a budget that, for the first time in decades, allocates zero dollars to the purchase and preservation of environmentally sensitive land. Those lawmakers don’t seem to realize how badly they are breaking trust with the 4.3 million voters who said – less than three years ago, and by a 3-to-1 margin – that they wanted to see Florida carry on its tradition of preserving sensitive, threatened land… Perhaps the most disappointing part of this year’s Florida Forever fiasco is watching lawmakers who have been solid voices for conservation – such as state Sen. David Simmons… and Senate Budget Chairman Jack Latvala… attempt to justify their betrayal of voters… [T]he sheer amount of environmental degradation the Legislature was confronted with – including landmark springs that are turning cloudy and the guacamole-thick algae that’s polluting water bodies… only underscores the need to preserve land… If the state waits, more of these treasures will disappear.” Read Leaders defy voters on conservation
The Gainesville Sun Editorial Board writes – “Members of the Florida Legislature seem to have a low opinion of the people who elected them… [T]he Republican-controlled Legislature provided zero money for the Florida Forever program... Nearly 75 percent of voters approved Amendment 1 in 2014 to ensure such land conservation happened in the face of intense development pressures in Florida. These type of ballot initiatives aren’t mere suggestions, but state constitutional amendments that bind the Legislature to carry them out. Lawmakers already face an ongoing lawsuit for allocating a relative pittance to the Florida Forever program in previous years… After environmentally sensitive land is lost to development, the public pays for it in pollution to groundwater and increased pressure on other resources… [V]oters need to start kicking these lawmakers out of office if they ever want their initiatives properly implemented.” Read Legislature again ignores voters
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “U.S. Rep. Brian Mast will file a bill… to expedite Everglades restoration projects, including a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee… ‘The federal government needs to step up and do its part to get this project done as quickly as possible,’ the Palm City Republican said...” Read Bill would expedite southern reservoir to curb Lake Okeechobee discharges
Alexandra Melnick reports for Rewire – “Stewart lives… 18 miles away from the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline… In her area and others, she’s observed the pipeline is being constructed close to schools and hubs of apartment buildings… [I]t frequently cuts through regions that are rural, low-income, or predominantly populated by people of color. And… many in these areas don’t have access to comprehensive reproductive care, meaning that some potential ill effects from the pipeline may go untreated… According to a 2017 study by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) titled “Too Dirty, Too Dangerous,” pipelines that transport natural gas and their compression stations ‘can leak, exposing distant populations to dangerous substances that travel through pipelines along with the methane; these include, notably, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and radon and its radioactive decay products.’” Read Florida Residents Concerned About Possible Effects of Pipeline on their Health
Lance Dixon reports for the Miami Herald – “The Coral Gables ban on plastic bags is now official. Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance…, making the Gables the first city in Florida to ban the use of single-use, carryout plastic bags.” Read Coral Gables approves Florida’s first plastic bag ban
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “The St. Johns River… has evaporated to some of the lowest water levels seen in more than half a century, risking toxic algae blooms that could complicate water treatment… Wading birds benefit from easier catches of fish trapped in smaller spaces… Melbourne officials say the city is monitoring Lake Washington, the source of two thirds of the city’s drinking water supply… Less water in the lake concentrates nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that can spur excess blue-green algae. When disinfected, the algae releases toxins hard to filter from drinking water, increasing lifetime risk of liver cancer and other cancers. A drier river also kills off water hyacinth and other invasive plants… ” Read St. Johns River dips to record lows
Tia Mitchell reports for the Florida Times Union – “The Florida Legislature has approved new rules intended to make sure the public receives notifications when there are large pollution incidents nearby… ‘Following the sewage spill in Pinellas County and pollution incident at Mosaic last year, I vowed to fight for legislation this session to ensure 24-hour public notification requirements following pollution incidents are codified in law,’ [Gov. Scott] said… ” Read Florida Legislature approves pollution notice rules
Kristen M. Clark reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “In a surprise result… lawmakers… rejected an attempt to significantly scale back part of the state’s famed Sunshine Law that secures Floridians’ right to watch how local officials make decisions on their behalf. HB 843 would have let two local government leaders meet about public business in secret. It earned a majority of votes in the state House… but still lacked several more needed for it to pass – thanks to a constitutional provision that requires approval by two-thirds of lawmakers to okay any new Sunshine exemption.” Read ‘The public won’ – Florida House rejects letting local officials meet secretly
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
May 18, 6:30 pm – Attend a potluck and screening of “The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida” at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park (225 S. Interlachen Ave., Parish Hall) in Winter Park. RSVP to CFLGrassrootsProgressives@gmail.com or call (407) 951 – 8183. Please bring a dish to share at the potluck before the movie.
May 20, 10:00 am – Participate in a Hands Across the Sand event on Pensacola Beach in opposition to oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in support of a transition to clean energy. Participants will meet at the Casino Beach Pavilion for live music, education, and inspiring speeches about protecting Florida’s beaches. At 11:00 am, the group will walk to the water’s edge to hold hands in silent remembrance of the 2010 oil spill. For more information, click here, call (850) 687 – 9968, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 20, 11:00 am – Participate in the Hands Across the Sand Event on Treasure Island at the Bilmar Beach Resort. Join hands to end our dependence on fossil fuels and look ahead to a clean energy future. There will be a press conference at 11:00 AM and an after party at Sloppy Joes. For more information, 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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