Greg Stanley reports for the Naples Daily News – “Collier County commissioners will not raise property taxes this year to buy preservation land, reversing course after strong opposition from local real estate agents, Republican committee members and state representatives. The county instead will ask voters in a 2018 referendum whether they want to bring back a special tax to fund Conservation Collier to buy and conserve land… First-term state Rep. Bryon Donalds… met with Commissioner Penny Taylor before the meeting to oppose the tax. In that meeting Donalds threatened to withhold support for Collier County in Tallahassee if commissioners went forward with it, Taylor said… State Reps. Carlos Trujillo… and Bob Rommel… also wrote letters to commissioners opposing the tax increase.” Read After opposition, Collier backs down on tax increase to conserve land
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “When the South Florida Water Management District board considers cutting taxes…, they’ll hear opposition from environmentalists who say the agency needs all the money it can get to help pay for water projects… ‘The district’s budget needs to keep pace with the population and economic growth in South Florida,’ Draper (Executive Director of Audubon Florida) said… Many Treasure Coast residents are willing to pay a few more dollars in property taxes if it helps curb flooding and bring about cleaner water, said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society… [A] reservoir… south of Lake Okeechobee to help curb discharges to the St. Lucie River will not be paid for with district property taxes. The state’s $800 million share of that project… will be paid for primarily with Florida Forever bonds and appropriations from the state Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The tax cuts typically save a few dollars for the average homeowner… The big savers are the district’s biggest property owners… Florida Power & Light Co. saved the most (with the tax cut in 2015)… On Tuesday, the St. Johns River Water Management District board approved a tentative 1 percent cut in property taxes.” Read South Florida Water Management District to propose tax cut; Audubon to oppose
Tiffanie Reynolds reports for The Florida Times Union – “The site of the proposed development is called The Outpost, 99 acres of undeveloped land surrounded by the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve and Guana Lake on three sides. The county originally denied the rezoning application because The Outpost is designated as conservation land on the county’s future land use map. It requested that Ponte Vedra Corporation… obtain a comprehensive plan amendment to change the land’s designation before moving forward with the county application process for the development… [R]residents who… have formed the nonprofit group Save Guana Now,… argue the development… will take away habitat for endangered animals and migratory birds, leak pollutants into the Guana Lake, and strain the traffic already on Neck and Mickler roads. Nicole Crosby, co-founder of Save Guana Now, said the corporation is trying to look like it’s addressing those issues in its new plan by reducing the number of homes, adding a natural buffer around the development and proposing to update its environmental studies from 2014… ‘But the basic problem remains, which is we’re still looking at development of 76 acres, no matter how you slice and dice it.’” Read Vista Tranquilla changes skirt around land use issue
Bruce Ritchie reports for Florida Politics – “A state appeals court has reversed an administrative judge’s ruling tossing out a legal challenge by the Florida Pulp and Paper Association to state limits on toxic chemicals in waterways. In July 2016, a sharply divided state Environmental Regulation Commission voted 3-2 during a boisterous meeting… to approve new human health criteria despite opposition from environmental activists, some local governments and industry groups. An administrative law judge threw out challenges filed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the city of Miami, the Pulp and Paper Association and Martin County because he said they were filed late – by only two minutes for the tribe’s appeal. The Pulp and Paper Association, the Seminole Tribe and the city of Miami filed separate appeals. The association argued that a revised statement of estimated regulatory costs issued after the deadline notice created a new time period for filing an appeal… It’s not immediately clear how the ruling will affect the other appeals.” Read Appeals court reverses judge on DEP water quality standards
Steve Patterson reports for The Florida Times Union – “U.S. Rep. John Rutherford is pushing back against steps by the U.S. interior Department toward permitting seismic testing for oil in offshore areas including Florida’s Atlantic coast… Rutherford… drafted the letter and circulated it through the U.S. House of Representatives over the last three weeks to get other signers… Erin Handy, a Florida representative for… Oceana… said, ‘every coastal municipality on the First Coast has passed a resolution opposing this threat. We urge the Jacksonville City Council to join them in stating their opposition.’” Read Atlantic seismic test plan draws fire from U.S. Rep. Rutherford
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “With Republicans and Democrats in Florida and Washington, D.C., fighting like cats and dogs over almost everything, it’s notable – and encouraging – when rival party members come together on the right side on an issue. Recently two U.S. House members – Republican John Rutherfod of Jacksonville and Democrat Don Beyer of Virginia – co-authored a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declaring ‘strong opposition’ to opening waters off the Atlantic Coast to exploration for oil and natural gas. The letter warned that even the first step toward offshore drilling, seismic surveys using airguns to locate subsea oil and gas deposits, would threaten ‘the vibrant Atlantic Coast economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems, which generate $95 billion in gross domestic product and support nearly 1.4 million jobs each year.’ The letter drew signatures from more than 100 U.S. House members, including 21 of the 27 from Florida – 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.” Read Don’t expose Atlantic coast to drilling risks
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The current moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf ends in 2022. A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers backs proposed legislation extending it another five years, to 2027 – despite President Donald J. Trump’s executive order pushing for an expansion of offshore drilling. General David L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, wrote to Nelson… to say that the Air Force ‘needs the certainty of the proposed extension’ to guarantee that it can continue testing and training flights in that area. The largest air force base in the world, Eglin Air Force Base, is located in the Florida Panhandle, covering three counties and more than 724 square miles of land as well as 123,000 square miles into the Gulf. Goldfein’s letter comes less than two months after the Pentagon’s acting under secretary of defense for defense and readiness sent a similar letter to Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz supporting an extension.” Read Air Force backs continued oil drilling moratorium
Elizabeth Campbell reports for News4Jax – “There’s a major algae bloom in Doctors Lake in Clay County that’s highly toxic, according to the St. Johns Riverkeeper… ‘Green algae is just a symptom of too much nutrient pollution in our river, and that comes from fertilizers off our yard and comes from pet waste. It comes from agriculture. It comes from industry,’ Rinaman said.” Read Riverkeeper warns of highly toxic algae in Doctors Lake
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