FCC News Brief - June 29, 2017

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Less than two months after the state Legislature approved a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to curb discharges, preliminary work is a month ahead of schedule… But these steps mostly involved doing some research and sending letters. The first major step over the next six months will be figuring out where the reservoir’s “footprint” will be built… It’s expected 3,700 acres just west of the A-2 site will be needed either for the reservoir or for an adjacent stormwater treatment area to clean water before it’s sent south to Everglades National Park.” Read South Florida Water Management District: Lake Okeechobee reservoir work ahead of schedule

Coral Davenport reports for The New York Times – “The Trump administration… took a major legal step toward repealing a bitterly contested Obama-era regulation designed to limit pollution in about 60 percent of the nation’s bodies of water. The rule known as Waters of the United States, or Wotus, had extended existing federal protections of large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Pudget Sound, to smaller bodies that flow into them, such as rivers, small waterways and wetlands… Mr. Pruitt released a 42-page proposal to rescind the rule. Publication of the plan is the first step in a lengthy legal process that the Trump administration must undertake to eventually enact a new regulation, one that is expected to have far fewer restrictions and pollution protections. The administration will also have to detail its legal reasoning for scaling back the rule, a case environmental groups are sure to challenge… ‘This proposal… would strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans…[,’ said Rhea Suh, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.]” Read E.P.A. Moves to Rescind Contested Water Pollution Regulation

Suanne Z. Thamm reports for the Fernandina Observer – “[T]he FBCC might want to discuss... various methods for building a fund to put more city land into conservation… [A] proposal from the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT)… suggested… that participating island businesses would support a voluntary surcharge that would be added to customers’ bills to support conservation efforts through creation of a special fund for a specific purpose… (Commissioner) Poynter said… responsibility for funding additional conservation land lay with the people who live here… Why aren’t we including in our budget money to buy property…?... [H]e asked commissioners if they would be willing to put the matter out for a referendum, as was done with purchasing land for the Greenway. Several commissioners appeared receptive to the idea.” Read North Florida Land Trust explores creating island green fund

Kate Flexter reports for My Suncoast – “For more than 30 years, the Atlantic coast has sat relatively untouched – with no oil or gas drilling. But that could soon change. The Trump administration is taking steps to allow five energy companies to begin oil and natural gas exploration from Delaware Bay to Cape Canaveral in Florida.” Read Push for Atlantic Energy Exploration Could Impact Gulf

Andy Reid reports for the Sun Sentinel – “To move more water south, federal officials have agreed to allow pumping water into drier portions of Everglades National Park – despite previous concerns about drowning endangered birds still nesting on the ground. The risk of rising waters straining the levees that keep South Florida dry now outweighs the threat of killing Cape Sabal Seaside Sparrows, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service… With that OK, the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday approved moving more water into Everglades National Park. Some emergency pumping has already started, with more beginning Thursday… To lessen flows into Broward and Miami-Dade, the district over the weekend started re-routing water from a reservoir in southwestern Palm Beach County and pumping it north into Lake Okeechobee. That risks sending fertilizers and other pollutants that wash off South Florida land into the lake, which already suffers from pollution washing in with water that drains from Central Florida… ‘We go from flood to drought, flood to drought. Normal doesn’t exist,’ (Audubon Florida’s) Hill-Gabriel said. ‘Everglades restoration needs to be completed.’” Read Emergency draining into Everglades OK’d to ease South Florida flooding risks

Fiona Harvey reports for The Guardian – “Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years… [A]uthors (of a letter published in the journal Nature this week), including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argue that the next three years will be crucial. They calculate that if emissions can be brought permanently lower by 2020 then the temperature thresholds leading to runaway irreversible climate change will not be breached… Schellnhuber… added: ‘The math is brutally clear: while the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence [before] 2020.’… The authors… set out six goals for 2020 which they said could be adopted at the G20 meeting in Jamburg on 7-8 July. These include increasing renewable energy to 30% of electricity use; plans from leading cities and states to decarbonize by 2050; 15% of new vehicles sold to be electric; and reforms to land use, agriculture, heavy industry and the finance sector, to encourage green growth.” Read World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts

Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill – “The House Armed Services Committee’s annual defense policy bill will include a provision requiring a Defense Department report on the effects of climate change on military installations… The report would include a list of possible ways to combat such climate change threats as flooding, droughts and increased wildfires.” Read House lawmakers back amendment requiring Pentagon climate change report

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “The FSNE unveiled its first Sunshine scorecard last week, grading all 160 legislators against their votes on public record bills that Florida’s amendment Foundation either supported or opposed. Not a single state lawmaker received an A. Only 9 had a B. There were 71 Cs – which is considered average. And half of the legislators received a subpar grade, with 77 Ds and 3 Fs. Florida might have the nation’s most robust open government laws, but they’re clearly under assault by our lawmakers. The public should be outraged, especially after a legislative session in which much of our budget and policy was decided behind closed doors.” Read Florida lawmakers failing open government





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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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July 19, 6:45 pm – Attend a public solar information meeting at the Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County library system in Gainesville. The Alachua County Solar Co-op is open to new members until July 28th.




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