FCC News Brief - July 19, 2017

The Herald Tribune Editorial Board writes – “The (North Port) City Commission’s official position since January 2016 has been to support the public purchase and perpetual preservation – at no direct cost to North Port – of the entire 5,744-acre (Orange Hammock Ranch) property… A solid majority of commissioners strongly affirmed, to their credit, the city’s support for preservation of the whole property – and no commissioner moved to alter that policy… Some of the discussion in North Port revolved around the water management district’s statement that it prefers to ‘reserve the ability to surplus a small area’ of the ranch near Interstate 75… [W]e urge the district, which would likely own the property, to drop the idea of selling any of the land. There is no access to accommodate residential or commercial development near I-75, and other areas that could be ‘surplused’ are too close to a key waterway.” Read North Port makes wise choice on land

Ron Littlepage writes for the Florida Times Union – “Now more than ever leaders need to step forward in Jacksonville. Unelected officials – the members of the Jacksonville Port Authority board – are about to commit to spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to deepen the St. Johns River… This is despite mounting evidence that the project doesn’t make economic sense… But the people you would expect to step up and say, ‘Slow down – let’s have a thorough public debate about this project,’ aren’t saying a word… It’s apparently because they’re afraid to anger either Mayor Lenny Curry or Gov. Rick Scott, both of whom are proponents of this massive expenditure of public funds… Everyone seems to be afraid to give an honest answer to this question: If what is sure to grow to a billion dollars to be spent on a gamble were your personal money, would you invest it this way?... This lack of leadership leaves it to you – the members of the public – to step forward. You must demand a timeout. You must demand a public debate that includes all sides… This isn’t a mundane issue that simply can be blown off with the assertion it’s a done deal. The deep dredge will consume hundreds of millions of dollars that won’t be available to meet Jacksonville’s other critical needs.” Read At a moment when we need our leaders to speak up, they have all shut up

Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “[A] review of the key decision points by Florida policymakers over the last two decades shows that… Big Sugar… has rung up a string of political successes while recording bumper harvests…The sugar industry… won repeated delays of strict water quality standards. It has fended off calls for buyouts – even after one of the largest companies, U.S. Sugar, offered to sell itself to the state… The industry was still reeling from the passage of the 1996 “polluter pays” amendment to the state Constitution in which 68 percent of Florida’s voters supported requiring the industries contributing to Everglades pollution to be ‘primarily responsible’ for paying their share of the damage. Sugar had steered $19.4 million to a group that unsuccessfully attempted to defeat the plan… While the amendment passed overwhelmingly, there was one problem with the amendment: It was not self-executing, and the 1997 Legislature refused to implement it… It took the Legislature seven years to implement “polluter pays” but it found a way to effectively neuter it in 2003. Lawmakers capped the 1994 Agricultural Privilege Tax that was imposed on sugar-cane growers at $25 per acre, or $11.3 million a year, and declared that it satisfied the constitutional amendment… In 2001, the state agreed to goals set by the Everglades Forever Act, reducing phosphorus in water to natural levels – 10 parts per billion – or face federal sanctions. But, by 2003, regulators determined the water quality in Lake Okeechobee wasn’t going to meet the standard so they recommended pushing back the deadlines. Late in the 2003 legislative session, leading lawmakers developed a bill to establish a new deadline: 2026. The sugar industry’s donations for the 2002-03 cycle: $673,320, including $286,831 to the Republican Party of Florida.” Read Sugar’s decades-long hold over Everglades came with a price

Alex Daugherty reports for the Miami Herald – “Curbelo’s effort to build a bloc of moderate Republicans capable of swaying anti-climate-change legislation appears to have paid off. Curbelo’s Climate Solutions Caucus… voted en masse on Thursday against a proposal to nix a Defense Department report on the threats posed by climate change to military installations… Every Republican on the caucus voted against the proposal by Rep. Scott Perry,… with the exception of Rep. Pete King… who voted in favor, and Rep. Rodney Davis… who was absent. The full House vote was 234-185… [T]wo Republican members of the climate caucus, Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, took to the House floor to oppose Perry’s amendment before the vote.” Read Curbelo’s gang of moderate Republicans defeats anti-climate change legislation

Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “Bill Nelson took to the floor of the U.S. Senate… to decry what he calls a ‘war on science.’” Read In Senate floor speech, Bill Nelson takes aim at Rick Scott and GOP’s ‘war on science’

Michael E. Mann, Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles report for The Washington Post – “[R]esearch shows that the most motivating emotions are worry, interest and hope. Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it. It is important to communicate both the threat and the opportunity in the climate challenge… [T]here are… reasons for hope. The active engagement of many cities, states and corporations, and the commitments of virtually every nation (minus one) is a very hopeful sign. The rapid movement in the global energy market towards cleaner options is another… There is still time to avoid the worst outcomes, if we act boldly now, not out of fear, but out of confidence that the future is largely in our hands.” Read Doomsday scenarios are as harmful as climate change denial

The Associated Press reports – “Marine scientists at Florida International University… [recruited] NASA astronauts to plant a coral nursery 90 feet… below the ocean’s surface in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary… FIU research Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty said dives from the surface would be too short and risky to accomplish much in the nursery. But divers living in the pressurized lab for days or weeks at a time can work longer in deeper waters. Astronauts… continued working in the nursery during NASA training missions over the last two years.” Read Astronauts help corals grow on the ocean floor off Florida

The Economist reports – “The rich are disproportionate contributors to the carbon emissions that power climate change. It is cruel and perverse, therefore, that the costs of warming should be disproportionately borne by the poor. And it is both insult and injury that the wealthy are more mobile in the face of climate-induced hardship, and more effective at limiting the mobility of others. The strains this injustice places on the social fabric might well lead to woes more damaging than rising temperatures themselves.” Read Climate change and inequality





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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.

July 22, 1:00 pm – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Seminole County Mail Library (215 North Oxford Road) in Casselberry. The meeting is hosted by the Seminole County Solar Co-op. For more information, click here.

August 1, 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’s springs. August’s lecture is on Springs Stresses with Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.

August 10, 7:00 pm – Attend Chasing Coral – Movie Night in Tallahassee. Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. For more information, click here.

August 15, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Coral Gables Adult Center (2 Andalusia Ave.) in Coral Gables. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (North) Solar Co-op. For more information and to register, click here.

August 16, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church (7701 SW 76th Ave.) in Miami. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (South) Solar Co-op. For more information, click here.

August 20-23 – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its annual Florida Springs Field School; four days of outdoor activities and springs education in the Ocala National Forest! Field trip locations include Silver Springs State Park, Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, and Silver Glen Springs. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.



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