FCC News Brief - May 9, 2017

Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for The Daytona Beach News Journal – “Spending (for Florida Forever) has fallen short of what supporters had hoped ever since [2014’s Amendment One] was approved, spurring a lawsuit still ongoing in Circuit Court… This is the first time the budget contains no money for Florida Forever… ‘We’re not happy,’ [Sen. Hukill] said. ‘I thought there was going to be money at the end.’… Voters couldn’t have imagined a day would come when legislators wouldn’t spend any money at all on Florida Forever, said Lee Constantine, a co-chair of the Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC), an organization that helped get [Amendment One] on the ballot and approved. Constantine, a Republican, said protecting conservation land should be bi-partisan, like the [FCC], where former Governor Bob Graham, a Democrat, is chairman. ‘Amendment One was passed to buy and conserve Florida lands,’ said Constantine, a Seminole County commissioner. And, with another 1,000 people a day moving to Florida, he said, the need is ‘greater now than ever… It’s vital that we have land that will be our water recharge areas… Our aquifer is being depleted at an alarming rate… We’re giving it away for free to anyone who asks for it, for as long as they want it. And, our springs are dying,’ [Constantine said.] The FCC… [is also] concerned the Legislature continues to cut the budget and number of employees for the Department of Environmental Protection… When the session concludes…, it re-starts the timeline for the lawsuit against the legislature… over Amendment One spending… The state is due to submit its response within a couple of weeks… A summary judgment on the merits of the case is expected sometime this fall. The proposed budget is another example of why the litigation is justified, said (Florida Wildlife) Federation President Manley Fuller… Legislators, he said, ‘seem to have a tin ear about conservation land acquisitions.’” Read Disappointed supporters say need for Florida Forever ‘greater than ever’

Amy Green reports for WMFE – “Amy Green:… [SB 10] is the bill pushed by Senate President Joe Negron. It calls for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee… The main thing the measure achieves is that it speeds up work on the reservoir. There always have been plans for a reservoir… for Everglades restoration, but the work wasn’t scheduled to start until 2021. Now it can begin as soon as August… Crystal: … [S]o the issue here is water storage. Does the bill provide enough? Amy: No, it does not provide the storage needed to solve all of Florida’s water problems. New research is calling for a vast amount of additional storage throughout central and south Florida. Scientists say the Everglades historically were much wetter than previously thought, and now sea level rise is pressuring the watershed. And this is important because you’ll remember the river of grass supports the drinking water of more than a third of Floridians. Environmental groups describe the measure as a good step, but we can expect this conversation to continue well into the future.” Read Conversations: On Gov. Scott’s Desk: More Water for Florida’s Everglades

Ledyard King reports for the USA Today Network – “Here’s the timeline for the (reservoir) project to move forward: - By July 1: The South Florida Water Management District requests the Corps to jointly develop what’s known as a “post-authorization change report” for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 element of the project. – By Aug. 1: If the Corps agrees, work on the post-authorization report must begin… – By Oct. 1, 2018: The District and the Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress. – By Dec. 1, 2019: Congress must approve the post-authorization change report. If the timelines aren’t met (and no extension is granted), the district must request that the corps initiate the planning for A-2 parcel as it was originally envisioned as a shallower basin mainly for water filtering, and look for another spot in the Everglades Agricultural Area to put a reservoir. Over the next several months, the state must also decide what private parcels should be purchased to make the project work and what leases now tying up state land should be terminated… The federal match of roughly $800 million isn’t needed right away… Congress decides how much the Corps gets every year to spend on its priorities nationwide but has limited say over what specific projects get funded… Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, would like to change that. The… backer of Everglades funding has introduced legislation lifting a ban that now prevents lawmakers from inserting provisions in spending bills for specific Corps’ projects. But passage of such a bill is not expected to come any time soon. Nor is it clear the Everglades would benefit more than water projects in other parts of the country that have their own lawmakers pushing for funding.” Read With passage of reservoir bill, Legislature’s focus turns to Washington

Mallory O’Connor writes for the Ocala Star Banner – “The ecological, historical and cultural characteristics of the St. Johns River combine to make it one of America’s most unique waterways. For over 10,000 years, people have lived, worked, traveled and dreamed on or alongside the St. Johns, and its recorded history is among the oldest in North America… [T]he St. Johns was officially designated an American Heritage River in 1998, one of only 14 rivers nationwide to receive this recognition. But it is also No. 6 on the list of America’s most at-risk rivers.” Read A journey through time on the St. Johns River

Doyle Rice reports for USA Today – “Sixty-six percent of [Florida] is now in a drought, the highest percentage of any U.S. state… If the drought persists – which is expected – this could mean major crop and pasture losses, as well as widespread water shortages and restrictions… ” Read Move over, California: Florida has the USA’s worst drought

Fried Hiers reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “Amid a drought… the Ocala City Council voted (unanimously) to limit both residential and commercial landscape irrigation… Lanier (the city engineer and director of water resources and engineering) told the council that Ocala was one of the few remaining municipalities that didn’t restrict landscape irrigation. He warned that without the restrictions, it would be more difficult to persuade state water regulators to award the city water-related grants and issue additional water use permits.” Read City votes to limit landscape irrigation

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Nelson has been leading the charge throughout his long political career against any drilling near Florida’s coast. Given the threat that offshore oil spills pose to the state’s environment and tourism-based economy, it’s a worthy crusade. But there’s another Florida politician who needs to join the fight on Nelson’s side: Gov. Rick Scott. As a strong supporter and personal friend of the president, Scott would have far more influence on this issue with the White House.” Read Oil rigs off Florida beaches? Ahoy, Rick Scott

Jerry Iannelli reports for the Miami New Times – “It’s become increasingly obvious that federal officials won’t begin treating climate change like a real problem until a whole lot of people die or lose their homes… And science indicates Miami will be the first on the chopping block. In honor of [the] Science March, here’s a recap of the most striking recent studies into how climate change will affect the 305. 1. Rising seas could turn 2.5 million Miamians into refugees… 2. Climate change could create “superstorms” that could level the city. 3. The city’s bridges and causeways are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, which means Miami Beach residents could get trapped on the island… 5. Oh, and the city would also become inhospitably hot and humid even if you can find a dry spot to stand.” Read The Five Scariest Climate Change Studies Affecting Miami





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Upcoming Environmental Events


May 9, 6:30 pm – Attend Climate Resilience and the Role of Local Governments, a talk with UWF Public Administration Professor Dr. Haris Alibasic, at the Bayview Senior Citizens Center (2000 East Lloyd Street) in Pensacola.

May 10, 6:00 pm – Attend Ales and Wild Tails with Weedon Island Preserve’s Emma Mason in Saint Petersburg. For more information, click here.

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 350pensacola@gmail.com.

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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