The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Florida citizens reasonably could wonder why they pay to keep 160 legislators in Tallahassee every year for 60 days – or longer – when the final decisions seem to be decreed by just three people… Many legislators say the term limits imposed by voters in 1992 are to blame. With only a short time to make their marks, members are more susceptible to the dictates of the presiding officers who control committee assignments and the legislative calendar. And here’s an alarming date for your calendar: On June 30, 27 freshman Republican members plan to decide which of them will become the speaker in 2022. It’s bad public policy to make leadership decisions so far in advance. After all, because of term limits, at least 73 other legislators will be elected before that leader is sworn in… [L]ikely the winner will become an overly influential crown prince. Members will begin courting his favor. And those who help him win on June 30 will be at the head of the line. There are reforms that could restore the independence of legislative members, and lessen the power of the presiding officers...” Read Florida’s broken state Legislature
Douglas Hanks reports for the Miami Herald – “A proposal backing the extension of the Dolphin Expressway southwest… [came] before a County Commission panel on June 13… Environmentalists see the… meeting as a showdown with developers and others eager to expand single-family homes and commercial outlets closer to the Everglades. ‘We have to learn from our mistakes,’ said Laura Reynolds, a consultant who represents Friends of the Everglades… ‘It’s flooded out there. We can use it for farming and… recreation. But we can’t keep it dry all the time.’ Miami-Dade’s toll authority wants to extend… the Dolphin Expressway… along a route that would take the major highway outside the county’s current boundary separating rural Miami-Dade from urban development… (Commissioner) Martinez is a sponsor of legislation by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz that would rewrite Miami-Dade’s growth plan to accommodate the… extension… As commissioner consider [the extension], the actual development boundary is up for its seven-year review and developers, environmentalists and other interests are gearing up for an extended debate. While the… plan to extend the Dolphin past the line would not change any zoning rules, critics see the move as easing the way to moving the boundary up to the edge of the new highway.” Read A fight over a highway bleeds into debate over growth toward the Everglades
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Brandon D. Tucker... has been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the South Florida Water Management District governing board…. Scott also appointed 46-year-old Jaime Weisinger…, director of community and government relations for Lipman Family Farms, to replace Mitchel Hutchcraft… ” Read Palm City real estate agent named to South Florida Water Management District board
Gil Smart reports for the TC Palm – “Last week, officials with the South Florida Water Management District thumbed their noses at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and vowed to plow forward with deep-injection wells – 3,000-foot holes in the ground into which excess water could be pumped during heavy rain events… [S]ome environmentalists suspect it’s a misdirection play designed to build wells instead of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee… Deep wells, UF concluded, ‘could be part of a long-term solution to reducing damaging discharges,’ or an interim solution until water storage, treatment and ‘conveyance capacities’ could be build south of the lake… To be effective, the study cautioned, wells must be part of a system that includes ‘other storage elements.’… [D]eep wells were never part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan because water pumped into the wells is lost. The Everglades needs that water… Indeed, the UF study recommended deep wells only where storing the water, cleaning it and sending it south to the Everglades wasn’t possible… By early this year, water managers were talking about building up to 60 deep wells around Lake O…. ‘I feel all options should be on the table, especially one that’s a much more viable and cost-effective option than expensive reservoirs,’ said (SFWMD board member) Jaime Weisinger… District Governing Board Vice Chair Jim Moran took a different tack. ‘… I don’t think we’d be looking at these wells as the total solution… Not in place of storage, but in conjunction with it…’” Read What’s behind push for deep injection wells near Lake O?
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Ten years ago, when scientists in South Florida began a massive rescue effort to rebuild the nation’s only inshore reef, replanting nursery-grown staghorn coral with a gardening technique perfected in the Pacific seemed like an easy solution… Suddenly, the reef gardeners were faced with a daunting new obstacle: climate change… They would need to weed out the weak coral, find a way to make the garden-grown variety more resilient to both temperature and rising acidity linked to more carbon in the atmosphere, and work faster. Much faster.” Read Florida reef rescuers race to keep pace with climate chang
Jasmin Fox-Skelly reports for BBC – “Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.” Read There are diseases hidden in ice, and they are waking up
David Smiley reports for the Miami Herald – “The namesake and single largest booster of Miami’s brand new $305 million science museum believes that man’s effect on climate change remains unproven and wants to cut through what he sees an ‘almost religious’ fervor around the topic. Phillip Frost… said it’s not yet proven that carbon emissions are accelerating the rate at which seas and temperatures are rising.” Read Namesake of Miami’s new science museum is a man-made climate change skeptic
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Democrat Gwen Graham said… that as governor she would implement a renewable energy requirement for utilities and work towards legislation allowing third-party sales of electricity… If elected, she said she will have Florida join other states upholding the (Paris) accord… Graham said, ‘Let me be blunt: Ignoring climate change will drown Florida’s future.’ [She]… said, that as governor, she will ban fracking… And she said Florida will build a ‘clean energy economy.’... She said she will… [continue] President Barack Obama’s federal carbon emissions rule called the “Clean Power Plan.”… And Graham said she would appoint consumer advocates and others ‘who believe in science’ to the Public Service Commission ‘to give solar companies a chance at competition with the corporate utilities.’” Read If elected governor, Graham says Florida would stick with Paris climate accord
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
June 17, 9:00 am – Attend the Barr Hammock Preserve Celebration in Micanopy. This is the grand opening of the Southern Entrance to Alachua County’s Barr Hammock Preserve. There will be guided nature walks and a cycling tour following the ceremonial “vine” cutting. For more information, click here.
June 21, 12:00 pm – Attend 1000 Friends of Florida’s webinar: Florida Forever Advocacy: A Game Plan for 2018. Speakers at this webinar will share strategies for Florida’s environmental groups and concerned citizens to support full funding for Florida Forever in 2018. For more information and to register, click here.
July 11, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’tomors springs. July’s lecture is on Springs Biology. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. More information is available here or by calling (386) 454 - 2427.
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