FCC News Brief - August 12, 2017

Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida – “Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, said… the state needs to increase spending for land preservation to help protect military bases from closure. Putnam voiced displeasure that state lawmakers did not provide more money during the current budget for conservation efforts… ‘Hopefully they’ll fix that problem next year,’ Putnam said… ‘Natural resource policy can also be economic development policy,’ Putnam said. ‘Natural resource policy can also be military and BRAC-proofing policy. It can also be encroachment policy. So while you’re protecting any number of species and watersheds and habitat and creating outdoor recreation opportunities, you’re also protecting Eglin (Air Force Base in Okaloosa County), Pinecastle (bombing range in the Ocala National Forest) and Avon Park (Air Force Range) training opportunities… Putnam said Florida Forever should get at a minimum $50 million a year… ‘I would anticipate that a significantly higher number that that is necessary to accomplish what we want to accomplish, to have connected corridors in Florida, and protect the things… that make Florida, Florida,’ Putnam said.” Read Putnam pitches land deals to protect military bases

Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “Supporters (of the reservoir project) also said the project would allow water to be routed during droughts through Shark River Slough in Everglades National Park to the Gulf of Mexico and eventually Florida Bay. But water management district officials… said reservoir supporters exaggerated the benefits to Florida Bay. The district said water doesn’t flow into Florida Bay from Shark River as supporters described, although a 2016 study suggests there is sometimes a low-salinity plume going into the bay… The district has emphasized ongoing… efforts to restore water flow to Everglades National Park. Last week, district officials pointed to work being done… to improve water flow through Taylor Slough to Florida Bay… Stephen Davis, an ecologist with the Everglades Foundation, said the district is releasing water out of the C-111 Canal into Barnes Sound and that some of that water would normally go into Florida Bay through the Shark River… A district spokesman said… that the discharge from the C-111 Canal into Barnes sound was being done under an emergency order that Scott issued to reduce flooding in water conservation areas… Former water management district official Ernie Barnett… said studies do not show Shark River Slough having a meaningful effect on Florida Bay salinity levels, although the Everglades Foundation insists that it does. ‘The reservoir was pitched to the Legislature as a solution to the Lake Okeechobee releases,’ Barnett said. He was among a group of water policy experts who urged the state… to stick with its restoration schedule without accelerating work on the reservoir. ‘The point we were trying to make, and continue to try to make, is when the lake is abnormally high and needs to be discharged – there is already a lot of water in the system,’ Barnett said.” Read Florida Bay salinity levels down, but concerns remain

Chad Gillis reports for the News Press – “[The USFWS]… is taking a close look at the Florida panther, one of more than a dozen animals whose listing status is being reviewed this year… ‘This is just a process to gather the best available science on categories such as biology, habitat conditions, conservation measures that have been implemented, the current threat status and the trends of those threats and any new information or data corrections,’ said David Shindle, a panther biologist with the [USFWS.] Any listing change would require separate action from the wildlife service, Shindle said… The current recovery plan, adopted in 2008, says the service will consider delisting the panther when three populations of 240 or more breeding adults have been established and sufficient habitat to support these populations is secured for the long-term… ‘If we continue to develop as we are now…, over the next few decades there will be a tipping point for panther and other wildlife habitat that’s being impacted by development,’ said Amber Crooks with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.” Read Panther review won’t lessen protections

Sherri Lonon reports for the Brandon Patch – “As the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation pushes toward a statewide recycling goal of 75 percent by the year 2020, counties in the Tampa Bay area are leading the charge. Hillsborough and Pinellas have already surpassed the state’s goal, tying in first place for countywide recycling at 82 percent…” Read Hillsborough, Pinellas Lead Florida in Recycling

Janet McConnaughey reports for the Associated Press – “Three hundred new conservation jobs will open up in the next few years in states along the Gulf of Mexico, paid for by about $7 million in BP oil spill penalties… Officials say GulfCorps workers will learn marketable restoration skills on projects that could include planting native vegetation, removing invasive species, repairing banks and shorelines and creating turtle or bird habitat on beaches.” Read Oil spill fines will pay for 300 new Gulf conservation jobs

Mitch Perry reports for Florida Politics – “While the U.S. Senate is officially in recess, Bill Nelson brought a bit of Washington D.C. to St. Petersburg… Nelson was joined by local Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist, who also shared the dais with Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and Pinellas County Commission Chair Janet Long. Nelson boasted about sponsoring the 2006 bill with then-GOP Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, calling for an oil drilling ban off much of the state’s Gulf Coast through most of 2022… Nelson wants that ban to continue until 2027, but says it’s ‘vigorously opposed by the oil industry.’ Castor took Nelson’s idea further, saying her Florida Coastal Protection Act would prohibit oil drilling, leasing, preleasing and any related activities off the Gulf Coast and the Straits of Florida permanently. However, she had been reintroducing that bill in Congress for the past eight years. Castor notes that a huge challenge to the tourism industry, as well as the future of everyday Floridians, is the changing environment – higher air-conditioning bills, more beach renourishment, and rising flood and property insurance rates.” Read At Senate Commerce hearing in St. Pete, Bill Nelson vows to keep oil drilling moratorium

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “The process of selecting PSC members has become a theater of the absurd, for which utility customers are paying an intolerable admission price. The problem was evident again Wednesday when the nominating council cut former Comptroller Robert Milligan from a list of 24 candidates for three board positions. The 14 who survived include a sitting legislator and four former legislators. That’s no surprise, considering that legislators occupy half the seats on the nominating council. Nor will it be a surprise if Gov. Rick Scott selects one or more of those five cronies. The deliberate omission of Milligan, who didn’t get a single vote, is unforgivable… Among other things, Milligan helped put an end to the seedy practice of allowing the banking and securities industries to contribute heavily to the campaigns of incumbent comptrollers, who then served as the state’s banking commissioner. A similarly seedy situation exists today, with utility companies contributing heavily to the campaigns of state lawmakers, who in turn serve on the PSC nominating council or appoint those who do.” Read Florida’s broken system for selecting utility watchdogs

Bill McKibben writes for The Seattle Times – “As America’s power plants have replaced coal with fracked gas, carbon emissions have fallen because natural gas produces half as much CO2 as coal when you burn it. The problem is, carbon emissions are not the only thing that drive global warming. There’s another gas that does the job even more powerfully: CH4, or methane, which is the scientific name for natural gas. If it leaks unburned into the atmosphere, then methane traps heat about 80 times more effectively, molecule for molecule, than CO2…. If as little as 3 percent of natural gas leaks in the course of fracking and delivering it to the power plant through a pipe, then it’s worse than coal. And, sadly, it’s now clear that leakage rates are higher than that. In January 213, aerial surveys of a Utah fracking basin, for instance, found leak rates as high as 9 percent… In fact, some experts who have reviewed the data say that because of the boom in fracking and the conversion to gas, America’s total greenhouse-gas emissions may actually have gone up during the Obama years. And at least the Obama administration required drillers to keep track of how much methane they were leaking – one of the first acts of the Trump EPA was to scrap that requirement…” Read Switching from coal to natural gas will not save our planet





From Our Readers


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Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state



Upcoming Environmental Events    

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 350pensacola@gmail.com, 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.

September 5, 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. September’s lecture is on Springs Advocacy with guest speaker Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund. 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.

September 16, 9:00 AM – Participate in the Big Talbot Island Cleanup. For more information, click here.

September 23, 9:00 AM – Attend “Solar Rocks for the Equinox” at Rum 138 (2070 SW County Road 138) in Fort White. The event will feature solar experts and exhibitors to showcase affordable solar energy solutions. The event is free and open to the public. Live music and local food options will be available. For more information, contact Chris Mericle (cjmericle@gmail.com, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (merrillee.malwitz-jipson@sierraclub.org, (352) 222 – 8893).



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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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