Rob Moher writes for the Naples Daily News – “Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 10 into law, meaning that Florida will begin to plan for and build a much-needed $1.5 billion water storage and treatment reservoir… south of Lake Okeechobee… However, Florida’s Legislature failed miserably in respecting the intention and desire of voters to accelerate land and water conservation initiatives outside of Everglades restoration… Florida had historically invested about $300 million a year in land-buying programs, easement purchases and other progressive policies to protect Florida from the rapid pace of development resulting in massive conversion of natural and agricultural lands. The abandonment of these programs was the reason for the voters’ passage of Amendment 1. This year, the Legislature invested zero dollars in Florida Forever. A paltry $10 million was set aside for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program and zero dollars were appropriated for the Florida Communities Trust program… [W]ith no funding, many… priority acquisitions will not advance, much to the chagrin of the vast majority of Floridians who care about our land, water and wildlife. Finally, House leadership completely abdicated its responsibility in failing to allow House Bill 451, a bill that would have banned fracking and fracking-like activities statewide, to be heard in committee… We encourage all of our region’s residents to reinforce to our elected officials the importance of protecting water resources, banning oil well stimulation treatments and honoring voter intent through restoration of at least 25 percent of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (Amendment 1) for the Florida Forever and FCT programs, and robust funding for other land conservation programs, such as Rural and Family Lands Protection Program easements. These, along with smart local zoning, are the best solutions to protect the natural systems that provide us with so many benefits in the face of significant growth.” Read 2017 legislative session wrap-up – how did region’s environment fare?
Fred Hiers reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “[An] environmentalist is challenging the St. Johns River Water Management District’s new flow standards for Silver Springs. Karen Chadwick said in her petition against the water agency that allowing an additional 2.5 percent decline in flow would damage the river. The Ocala City Council voted 4-0…, to support the water district. The reduced flow would essentially allow additional groundwater pumping. At current pumping rates and expected population growth, the water district staff estimates the new flow levels will be exceeded by 2024… [W]ater district board member Fred Roberts asked the city to intervene on behalf of the water district. (Assistant City Attorney) Gooding said that given the new flow standards, the city’s costs to provide water to customers will increase by millions of dollars because the water district will require the city to conserve and reuse more water in the future. He also said if Judge E. Gary Early rules against the water district and does not allow any additional flow declines, it would cost the city a lot more.” Read City sides with regulators on reduced Silver Springs flow
Greg Stanley reports for the Naples Daily News – “The owners of HHH Ranch have offered to sell Collier County their 1,010-acre property… The asking price? Mining rights on the land and proceeds from the limestone that gets carried out…. (Commissioner) Taylor said the land is valuable enough that the county needs to look at buying it but is reluctant about entering into a mining deal. ‘When you think of the future, isn’t it great to have a piece of property out there that we could call a park and keep in perpetuity…? But I think the vehicle for that is Conservation Collier. And I think that future does not include mining.’… The site was the subject of a legal battle between the Hussey family and environmentalists that ended in February after nearly a decade in court. In the suit, HHH Ranch owners said new county growth rules violated their property rights by banning rock mining and cutting the number of homes that could be built on the site. The county settled with the ranch owners with a deal that opened the door for rock mining, allowed for a greater number of homes and included a land swap for preserve land. The Florida Wildlife Federation and Audubon of the Western Everglades appealed that settlement, saying it shortchanged endangered species such as the Florida panther… That appeal was thrown out in February…” Read HHH Ranch owners offer Collier County 1,010 acres in exchange for mining proceeds
Francis E. Putz writes for The Gainesville Sun – “Lawn legality even extends to single-species swaths of alien turf grass maintained with estrogen-mimicking pesticides, spring-polluting fertilizers and aquifer-depleting irrigation. Perhaps lawn endorsers do not know that the nitrogen needed for happy grass is fixed in an industrial process that involves burning large quantities of natural gas. They may also not understand that much of the nitrogen that doesn’t leach down to the aquifer is released back into the atmosphere as potent atmospheric heat-trapping gas… They may also believe that farmers in Florida mostly grow food, whereas turf grass is by far their biggest crop.” Read Replace lawns and save our state tree
Linda Robertson reports for the Miami Herald – “Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher suffered a stroke that has impaired the right side of his body, including his shutter-button finger, but he intends to be out of the wheelchair and hiking through the swamps again if his recovery goes smoothly.” Read Photographer Clyde Butcher is recovering from a stroke, eager to return to the Everglades
The New York Times Editorial Board writes – “Until recently, China and India have been cast as obstacles, at the very least reluctant conscripts, in the battle against climate change. That reputation looks very much out-of-date now that both countries have greatly accelerated their investments in cost-effective renewable energy sources – and reduced their reliance on fossil fuels. It’s America… that now looks like the laggard… China and India should easily exceed the targets they set for themselves in the 2015 Paris Agreement… China’s emissions of carbon dioxide appear to have peaked more than 10 years sooner than its government had said they would. And India is now expected to obtain 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022, eight years ahead of schedule… Electric vehicle sales in China jumped 70 percent last year, thanks in large part to generous government incentives… [India’s] minister of power said last month that all cars sold in the country should be electric by 2030.” Read China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change
Laurie Goering reports for Reuters – “’If you go to Google and click on climate change images, you have to go a long way before you hit many images of people,’ says Adam Corner, research director at Climate Outreach, an Oxford-based thinktank that aims to boost public engagement on climate change. But climate change already is affecting billions of people around the world, from farmers in Zimbabwe experimenting with new crops to battle drought to grandmothers in India who earn cash selling solar home lighting systems, or children in the United States coping with a longer allergy season. Getting more of these people-focused images into the media, into NGO campaigns and into other public communications could help more people identify with the problem… Corner said.” Read Time to ditch the polar bears? Climate change looks for a new image
Kimberly Defalco and Kate Bradshaw write for Creative Loafing – “The sixth of its kind, the annual International March Against Monsanto grassroots campaign took place in hundreds of cities on six continents. Locally, activists gathered in downtown Tampa to protest the company. The main objective was to raise awareness of various practices agricultural and chemical giant Monsanto carries out across the planet.” Read Sights and scenes from Saturday’s March Against Monsanto in Tampa
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