News 4 Jax reports – “North Florida Land Trust acquired just under 80 acres of land along the Ortega River on Jacksonville’s Westside… [The land] is within the 112,346 acres of land NFLT has identified in its Preservation Portfolio, which identifies land in critical need of preservation within NFLT’s seven-county focus area… Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT [said, ‘] It is part of the large natural floodplain swamp which is important to the resiliency of the Ortega River. The wetlands filter out pollutants, buffer upland areas from flood events and provide freshwater habitat for wildlife.’” Read Land along Ortega River purchased for preservation
Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Florida’s two senators and its entire congressional delegation are asking the president to ensure that a federal agency remains neutral in the ongoing court battle between Florida and Georgia over water use from the Apalachicola River system.” Read State delegation asks Corps of Engineers to stay neutral in water wars
Chad Gillis reports for News Press – “The (Caloosahatchee) river’s estuary has too much nitrogen, which can lead to larger and more frequent algae blooms as well as cause sea grass and oyster bed kills. [A] group of projects, most of which are in Fort Myers and Cape Coral areas, is expected to reduce the annual load from 1.7 million pounds to about 1.3 million pounds over the next 25 years. The nitrogen comes mostly from fertilizers used by the agriculture industry. It also washes off local yards and into ditches, creeks and then the river. More than 11 million pounds of nitrogen flows down the river each year, and about 85 percent of the nitrogen comes from the rural eastern part of Lee and Hendry counties… The pollution maximums for the coastal section of the river were finished in 2009, and the BMAP, or Basin Management Action Plan, adopted in 2012. There is no timeline for addressing the upstream pollution, but that process could take 25 years or more judging by the progress of the action plan. Critics say they wonder if the river will ever be rid of the 11 million pounds of nitrogen that flows down the entire length of the river… Rae Ann Wessel, with Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, said… the process could be easier if DEP would simply look for the sources of the pollution and work with those sources to remedy the excess nitrogen. ‘Let’s look at what each entity is doing to reduce those loads,’ she said. ‘It continues to increase in the estuary, so something is not working… We’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.’” Read State looks to reduce Caloosahatchee pollution
Michael Joe Murphy reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “To find out more about the ongoing recovery of Florida’s official state animal, the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board turns to Elizabeth Fleming, a senior representative of Defenders of Wildlife, who has worked for 14 years on panther recovery in our state… While Florida panthers are recovering, they still face serious threats, including loss of habitat, road mortality and lack of human tolerance that can lead to conflict…. Recovery depends on the ability to move northward into central and north Florida and beyond, and the willingness of private landowners to share the landscape… We must conserve wildlife habitat now while we have the opportunity before it is lost forever.” Read Florida panthers: Are recovery efforts in danger?
Veronica Carter reports for the Public News Service – “A House vote could come soon on legislation known as the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017. The bill would mean building more temporary storage facilities around the nation to hold high-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactor sites, both current and closed. David Kraft, director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, says it would double the amount of this waste coming through almost every state by road, rail and barge. In Florida, it would come in through Alabama and run all the way down to near Miami.” Read More Radioactive Waste Coming to Florida?
Andrew Dunn reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “A (St. Petersburg) City Council committee voted 3-1… to start drafting a citywide ban on [plastic] bags because they’re a menace to the environment: They never break down, most are never recycled and they pose a danger to marine life, especially along a coastal city like St. Petersburg… Assistant City Attorney Joe Patner told the committee he anticipates that, if the ban became law, the Florida Retail Federation will challenge it under pre-emption. But he also saw a chance for the city to prevail because of a recent court victory by the city of Coral Gables… Coral Gables’ ban on plastic foam products survived a court challenge when a judge ruled… the state law preventing the ban was unconstitutional. That ruling is being appealed.” Read St. Petersburg considers ban on plastic bags, but it won’t be easy
Coral Davenport and Nicholas Fandos report for The New York Times – “Mr. Zinke’s staff… filed a legal proposal to rescind the nation’s first safety regulation on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. They are exploring a proposal to loosen safety rules on underwater drilling equipment put in place after the 2010 BP oil spill… They have rolled back an Obama-era order to block coal mining on public lands and delayed carrying out a regulation controlling emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells… While Mr. Zinke explores the boundaries of national monuments, the man widely expected to oversee major policy decisions back in Washington is David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and Trump transition official who served in senior positions in the Interior Department under George W. Bush… [A]mong the first decisions awaiting Mr. Bernhardt is a proposal backed by several of his former clients. Oil companies have pushed for years to recombine two Interior Department offices, one that collects revenue from the oil and gas companies that drill on federal lands and waters, and another that oversees and enforces safety and environmental regulations of that drilling. Those offices were split on the recommendation of a commission that investigated the cause of the 2010 rupture of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Separating the jobs of oil revenue collection and safety oversight would break up an internal culture that prioritized the promotion of drilling over safety, the commission said.” Read As Interior Secretary Swaggers Through Parks, His Staff Rolls Back Regulations
Billy Corriher writes for Center for American Progress – “President Donald Trump’s Cabinet includes many officials with a history of pushing a deregulatory, anti-environment agenda… Trump is also nominating federal judges who could further his… agenda in the courts, and unlike his Cabinet officials, these judges will serve much longer than Trump. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, for example, has views that could give judges more power to strike down regulations from the EPA and other agencies. The president has recently nominated two young lawyers… to 15-year terms on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The first nominee, Damien Schiff, is a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), a group that often sues the federal government when the government seeks to enforce environmental laws… A few months ago, he wrote that Earth Day is ‘a threat to individual liberty and property rights.’… Schiff has written extensively about the Constitution’s Takings Clause, which requires fair compensation when the government takes property, and he has argued… that certain penalties for violating state laws are “takings” that require compensation. The Court of federal Claims decides these types of lawsuits… The other nominee to the court, Stephen Scwartz,… helped defend oil company BP in lawsuits over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill… Schwartz argued that BP could not be sued under the Clean Water Act… Schwartz was also co-counsel in a lawsuit against California’s regulations requiring low carbon emissions for gasoline.” Read Trump’s Anti-Environment Judicial Nominees Could Lead to Polluted Air and Water
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 4-6, 3:00 pm – Watch the Florida Wildlife Corridor’s newest documentary, “The Forgotten Coast” at The Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. The film showcases an expedition along Florida’s west coast from the Everglades to the Panhandle. The film showing is included with regular admission to the museum. For more information, click here.
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 12, 4:00 pm – Participate in the Hot City-Cool City Walking Tour in Pensacola. During the walk, participants will explore old and new ways that cities can adapt to the higher temperatures and heavier rainfall of our changing climate. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (850) 687 – 9968, or 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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