FCC News Brief - August 16, 2017

Ron Littlepage writes for The Florida Times Union – “Last week, The Washington Post published a story about Palatka under a headline that read in part: “This dying city is determined to save itself.” It’s never a good thing to be called a dying city in a national publication. But,… that’s what an expert… found based strictly on statistics – more deaths than births, more people moving out than in… ‘… [T]he city’s pipes are so old that the water sometimes comes out the color of rust.’… [B]ut Palatka does have a special building block for a stronger economy – the St. Johns River… ‘Officials here,’ the Post reported, ‘are striving to turn the riverfront… into a future hub for tourism and a draw for retirees.’… Tourism is the right track to take… People are drawn to the natural beauty of unspoiled Florida… Breach the Rodman dam and free the Ocklawaha River. Begin restoring the 9,200 acres of floodplain and forest that are inundated by the Rodman pool. Bring back to full life the more than 20 springs that are covered up by the pool’s often stagnant water… Supporters of keeping the dam intact argue that bass fishing is a key driver for the area’s economy. How is that working out for you?” Read Palatka can use a restored Ocklawaha to revive economy

Tierney Harvey reports for Spinnaker – “Some people don’t know there are dolphins living in the Saint Johns River. Even more are unaware that they’re in trouble… They have skin lesions, they’re underweight and they’re dying in low salinity areas of the river… [S]o far, the cause of the dolphins’ ailments have not been confirmed… Brown hopes to change that. She is investigating a link between dolphin health and cyanotoxins in the river. ‘We are finding that at least one toxin called microcystin is definitely affecting the health of our dolphins,’ she said. Along with microsystin, which affects the liver, several other cyanotoxins are present in the river…, and they affect the nervous system and skin. They are created by cyanobacterial blooms… Some people think that once the bloom is gone, the water is safe, Brown said, but because the toxins are released as the blooms die, there is still a danger.” Read UNF student searching for cause of dolphin health problems

Lisa Rinaman reports for The Florida Times Union – “We… know from experience that the cost will likely increase substantially. The last time the river was dredged, the final cost was nearly four times the original projection. Recently, the Army Corps announced that the cost of Savannah’s harbor deepening project had increased by 38 percent. Jacksonville already has a significant backlog of unfunded infrastructure projects that includes streets, bridges, sidewalks and drainage. In addition, it is estimated to cost up to $700 million just to remove failing septic tanks that are polluting our river. What public services and projects that benefit our quality of life, river and local economy will we have to forgo to pay for the dredging and what cost? The St. Johns River currently suffers from numerous unresolved pollution problems. The deep dredge would cause significant additional harm… while providing no mitigation to offset the damage. This would only set us back further, making it much more expensive and difficult to restore the health of our river… Now is also the time for a robust public conversation and comprehensive review of all the pros and cons of the deep dredge… We cannot afford to kick the can down the road and allow a potential boondoggle in the making to endanger taxpayers and our St. Johns River.” Read JaxPort’s economic projections for dredging are questionable

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Yes, rainwater runoff from western Martin County is helping feed an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee. No, that water flowing into Lake O via the C-44 Canal has not been the primary source of nutrients feeding the bloom. In fact, the C-44 did not send as much water and fertilizer runoff into the lake as did farmland south of the lake, according to data for January through July from the South Florida Water Management District. The algae bloom was caused by ‘major inflows from the north,’ Terri Bates, the district’s water resources director, told board members Aug. 3. Bates specifically mentioned a ‘heavy flush of nutrients’ early this summer from the Kissimmee River and creeks north and northwest of Lake O.” Read Is Martin County water to blame for blue-green algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee?

Kinfay Moroti reports for the News Press – “A contaminated city dump site in the middle of a Fort Myers residential neighborhood may gain the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency if a request from U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson succeeds. ‘After nearly a decade, there is still toxic sludge in a residential neighborhood, and families have no idea when, if ever, it will be cleaned up,’ Nelson… wrote EPA chief Scott Pruitt in a letter dated Aug. 11, calling on the agency to investigate the situation and make sure the site is remediated… The city will soon conduct a full DEP-approved site assessment to determine the extent of the contamination and risk to residents, spurred by state Rep. and agriculture commission candidate Matt Caldwell…, with an inquiry into the state Department of Environmental Protection’s handling of the matter.” Read Sen. Nelson to EPA: Help Fort Myers residents get the sludge out

The Naples Herald reports – “The remains of two Florida panthers were found in Collier County in the last two days… [A] 12-year old male panther was killed on Alligator Alley near mile marker 54… [A] two-year old male was found on hiking trails in the Crew marsh. Researchers have determined the cause of death to be by another panther. The two deaths bring the total panther death in 2017 up to 20… 15 panthers have been born in the wild…, the most recent litter was two males and two females in Big Cypress Preserve…” Read Two Florida panthers found dead in Collier

Matt Zdun reports for CNBC – “Increasingly, the phenomenon of rising sea levels has amplified fears over climate refugees – individuals forced to leave their homes due to changing environmental conditions in their respective homelands. Climate watchers estimate that at least 26 million people around the world have already been displaced, and that figure could balloon to 150 million by 2050, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Relocating those populations costs vast sums of money, raising the question of who will cover those costs as sea levels continue their uptrend… Last year, Louisiana received $92 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for two coastal resilience-building projects. The state earmarked $48 million of that award to relocate 99 residents off the small island of Isle de Jean Charles, in what will be one of the first climate-induced relocation efforts undertaken in the U.S.” Read Refugees of a different kind are being displaced by rising seas – and governments aren’t ready

Bobby Magill reports for Climate Wire – “Efforts to cut HFCs became more difficult both in the U.S. and globally on Tuesday, when a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the [EPA] has overstepped its authority in regulating HFCs under the Clean Air Act. The ruling leaves the U.S. without an immediate legal mechanism to control HFCs, which amount to about 3 percent of U.S. climate pollution. Though that’s a small part of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, they’re between about 1,000 to 12,000 times as potent as carbon dioxide, depending on the specific chemicals used to make HFCs… HFCs lurk in the leaky refrigerator cases of grocery stores and air conditioners across the globe… The EPA expects HFC pollution to triple in the U.S. in the coming decades, and it could grow dramatically here and abroad as more nations adopt air conditioning as the climate warms… [T]wo foreign HFC manufacturers operating in the U.S., Mexhichem Fluor and Arkema of France, sued the EPA… Major U.S.-based HFC manufacturers support the EPA’s regulation and one of them, Honeywell, intervened in the case along with the Natural Resources Defense Council… In February, the Trump administration defended the EPA’s HFC rule in court – a rare example of Trump’s EPA… [T]he court’s decision could be appealed...” Read Court Scuttles Rule Cutting Potent Greenhouse Gas





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Upcoming Environmental Events    

August 16, 7:00 pm – 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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