FCC News Brief - August 14, 2017

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Florida is back to absorbing more than a thousand new residents a day. Managing all that growth to preserve the state’s fragile environment and the quality of life that Floridians treasure is more important than ever… During Scott’s first year as governor in 2011, he and leaders of the Republican-led Legislature dismantled the Department of Community Affairs. The agency had been created under Gov. Bob Graham to back up local governments in reviewing development proposals that would require amendments to their comprehensive plans and would pose potential impacts on the environment, as well as on local schools and roads… DCA took its watchdog role seriously; it objected to more than 200 proposals a year in the last five years of the agency’s operation. But since its dismantling, the state has objected to only about 20 proposals in a typical year… It’s much cheaper for taxpayers to manage growth than to repair the damage belatedly. But accomplishing this imperative starts with a sincere commitment to growth management – including the right people to carry it out.” Read Stop neglecting growth management in Tallahassee

Jake Martin reports for The St. Augustine Record – “St. Johns County reiterated its stance that developers behind the controversial Vista Tranquila project in Ponte Vedra Beach will have to seek a Comprehensive Plan amendment if they want to build on a piece of property known as the Outpost. The county submitted its second round of comments on the proposed project on Aug. 1, following up on Ponte Vedra Corporation’s responses in June to the county’s initial staff review of their application for a Planned Unit Development. Disagreement between the county and developers over some land use issues has kept the project at more or less of a standstill for about four years. The proposed PUD… [borders] the Guana River in the northern reaches of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, or GTMNERR.” Read Development of Outpost property still faces hurdles

Steven Lemongello reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Orange County leaders broke their own growth rules when they approved a 2,000-home development in mostly rural east Orange County last year, a state judge ruled Friday. In her decision, Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk called for the County Commission to admit its mistake, which could doom the controversial Lake Pickett South project… Lake Pickett South developer Dwight Saathoff held out hope he would be able to appeal to the governor and Cabinet to revive his project. Opponents of the project had argued it would destroy their rural way of life east of the Econlockhatchee River and damage the surrounding environment… Commissioner Emily Bonilla, elected last year in part because of her opposition to the project, said she would ask the County Commission to rescind its 4-3 vote in favor of Lake Pickett South at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 22.” Read Judge’s ruling could doom Lake Pickett development in east Orange

Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “Florida’s springs have all the qualities of living creatures… Like other living organisms, springs are mostly composed of water. For example, the total body weight of humans is approximately 60 percent water. Humans will die of dehydration after losing as little as 15 percent of their water mass. Not surprisingly, springs die when they lose their water, too. Significant impairments to springs’ environmental health have been shown at an average flow reduction of 5 to 10 percent, yet Florida’s springs have collectively lost an average of 32 percent of their historic flow… Florida’s springs and other endangered life forms are a gift. They were here before modern human development. They are an endowment from Mother Nature that delivers economic and aesthetic dividends to human society. When presented with such valuable gifts, our responsibility to be good stewards by protecting their lifeblood, the water quantity and quality of the Florida Aquifer.” Read Florida’s springs are living things

Jeff Weiner reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Environmentalists are celebrating Orlando leaders’ plan to power the city entirely with renewable energy by 2050… ‘It’s not just an aspirational goal,’ said Phil Compton, an organizer for the Sierra Club. ‘It’s a real commitment that will influence every decision that the city makes going forward: Does this advance that goal, or does this not help in attaining that goal?’… Though the city, which still derives much of its power from burning coal, has a long way to go, some – including city sustainability director Chris Castro – say it’s possible Orlando could eliminate its reliance on fossil fuels much sooner than 2050… [T]he resolution was an expansion of Orlando’s already-existing goals. The city had previously committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent by 2040 and to power all city functions with clean energy by 2030.” Read Orlando sets 2050 goal for completely renewable power

Sarah Isaac writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “The City Council’s historic 7-0 vote committing to a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 was… a win for the community. It marked a vision for the city we can be, a commitment to possibility, and a decision to lean into the future instead of remaining mired in an untenable past… [Orlando] is the largest American city make this pledge. The truth is, the debate over green energy is no longer a debate. It is no longer a question of whether, but a question of when and how. Advances in technology mean renewable energy is now a cost-effective alternative for energy generation… Through Orlando’s Green Works sustainability initiative, much of the blueprint for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy is already in place… Moving to a green energy economy will not be simple. There are unrecoverable costs in existing power plants, jobs in existing power generation, considerations of energy security, and other complexities. And we must work to ensure that the benefits of cheaper, cleaner energy flow to all residents, not just those who can afford rooftop solar and electric cars… [F]or now, we will celebrate. Because… we needed this win.” Read Green by 2050 – no turning back, Orlando

Sara Nealeigh reports for the Bradenton Herald – “On Aug. 3, (Sen.) Nelson introduced a bill ‘to authorize research and recovery activities to provide for the protection, conservation, and recovery of the Florida manatee, and for other purposes.’ Senate bill 1747 has been read twice and referred to the committee on Commerce and Science, and Transportation…” Read Sen. Bill Nelson aims to provide more protection for Florida manatees

Coral Davenport and Erip Lipton write for The New York Times – “When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is, according to interviews with employees of the federal agency. Doors to the floor are now frequently locked, and employees have to have an escort to gain entrance. Some employees say they are also told to leave behind their cellphones when they meet with Mr. Pruitt, and are sometimes told not to take notes. Mr. Pruitt… often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security… [A]s he works to roll back regulations, close offices and eliminate staff at the agency charged with protecting the nation’s environment and public health, Mr. Pruitt is taking extraordinary measures to conceal his actions… He has terminated a decades-long practice of publicly posting his appointments calendar and that of all the top agency aides, and he has evaded oversight questions from lawmakers… And the E.P.A. under Mr. Pruitt has… [shut] down data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies… E.P.A. employees say that… as Mr. Pruitt prepared a proposal to reverse the (WOTUS) rule, they were told by his deputies to produce a new analysis of the rule – one that stripped away the half-billion-dollar economic benefits associated with protecting wetlands… ‘This is a huge change, and they made it over a few days, with almost no record…,’ Mr. Ruchs (of PEER) said, adding, ‘It wasn’t so much cooking the books, it was throwing out the books.’… While federal records laws prohibit senior officials from destroying records, they could evade public scrutiny of their decision-making by simply not creating them in the first place.” Read Scott Pruitt is Carrying Out his E.P.A. Agenda in Secret, Critics Say





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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.

August 31, 6:30 pm – Attend the “Get the Dirt Out Workshop” in Jacksonville. Become a water watershed protector when you join this program designed to educate citizens about Duval County’s “dirt laws” and train them to be watchdogs in their neighborhoods to keep dirt out of our waterways. For more information, click here. To register, click here.

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 12, 7:00 pm – Attend in Algal Bloom Awareness Presentation in Orange Park. Aquatic ecologist Robert Storm Burks will explain what causes blue-green algal blooms and why they may be toxic. Learn how to report algae occurrences using Water Rangers, a new web-based app. For more information, click here.

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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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest environmental news from around the state. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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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