FCC News Brief - August 17, 2017

The Herald Tribune Editorial Board writes – “Floridians who want to oppose expanded oil drilling off the Florida coasts should express their views – by Thursday. That’s the deadline established for public comment on an initial but important phase of the Trump administration’s ‘full consideration’ of a new plan to significantly increase offshore drilling. An executive order signed April 18… set in motion a process for undermining a 2017-2022 plan that, among other things, includes a federal moratorium… that bans drilling in almost all of the eastern Gulf of Mexico… Furthermore, the plan contains [rules] that [were] adopted in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster… Trump’s order calls for the regulations to be reconsidered; that is dangerous nonsense… The mere consideration of dramatic expansion into the eastern Gulf… is bad for several basic reasons. – The oil trapped in those reserves is not necessary to fuel the American economy. – Florida’s coastal environment, including commercial fisheries, and its tourism-based economy are far more valuable… than oil drilling… especially as alternative forms of energy become more affordable and efficient. Even the first phases of exploration, which include seismic testing, pose serious threats to marine life, all the way up and down the food chain… -… [M]atters of national security are at stake… We hope residents of our coastal region will express their opposition, and urge Gov. Rick Scott to stand with a bipartisan coalition of Florida’s senators and representatives to oppose lifting the eastern Gulf moratorium.” Read Oppose oil drilling off Florida coast

Kate Payne reports for WFSU – “Residents near a stretch of the Sabal Trail Pipeline in Central Florida are reporting the sulfur-like smell of a gas leak... Natural gas itself doesn’t have a smell, which is why utilities add odorants to tip off residents… A company technician responded to 911 calls in July and August, and fixed the leak.” Read Central Florida Residents Report Foul-Smelling Leaks Near Sabal Trail Pipeline

Tampa Bay Reporter reports – “U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist… announced… that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $70,000 to Pinellas County to support its work protecting air quality and the public’s health. The $71,896 grant will support the county’s air quality division working to reduce pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and mercury… In a recent study in Environmental Research, EPA scientists looked at data from NASA satellites and EPA ground-based air monitors, confirming that heart disease and heart attacks are more likely for individuals living in places with higher air pollution. The study found that exposure to even small amounts of fine particle pollution over the course of one year could increase a person’s odds of a heart attack by up to 14 percent.” Read Crist: Pinellas County to Receive Thousands to Fight Air Pollution

Malena Carollo reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The Florida Public Service Commission approved Duke Energy Florida’s request to recover $50 million related to its now-defunct Crystal River nuclear power plant… The costs will take effect from January to December 2018. However, because consumers have already been paying off related costs in recent years, their overall bills are expected to go down by 4 cents to $1.52 per 1,000 kilowatt hours… Because utilities are allowed to keep a portion of the funds spent on a nuclear project, Duke walked away with about $100 million following upgrades to the Crystal River plant… What wasn’t discussed at Tuesday’s hearing is cost recovery for another nuclear power project Duke had proposed in Levy County… Duke ended up shutting down the $25-billion project because of high costs, which left Duke costumers on the hook for a $1 billion bill.” Read Florida PSC approves Duke $50 million request for paying for nuclear project

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “According to a study just published by the scientific journal “Fisheries Research,”… a lot of shark fishermen knowingly break the law, and even give each other tips on how to get away with it. The study by noted shark expert David Shiffman looked at more than 1,000 postings on the online message board of the South Florida Shark Club…, between 2010 and 2015. Many of the postings were complaints about state laws intended to protect certain shark species, and how to get around those laws.” Read Shark protection laws not deterring anglers from catching sharks illegally, study finds

Nate Dinger reports for The Inertia – “The invasive Burmese Python population in the Everglades has become a large-scale issue for Florida’s native wildlife… To gauge the true nature of the problem, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Florida radio-tracked ninety-five marsh rabbits from 2012-2013. By the end of the study, nearly 80 percent of the rabbits were found inside the bellies of Burmese Pythons. Another grim sign of the area’s python crisis is the lack of nocturnal animal activity on the roads. Researchers working within the Everglades conducted a study of the nighttime activity along the roadways from 2003-2011. The study showed a decrease of raccoon sightings by 99.3 percent, opossums by 98.9 percent, and bobcats by 87.5 percent. Another concerning finding was the complete absence of rabbit along the roadways.” Read Florida’s Wildlife Continues to Suffer as the Burmese Python Tightens its Grip

Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson report for The Washington Post – “President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that said he would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers… The White House confirmed that the order… would revoke an earlier executive order by former President Barack Obama that required recipients of federal funds to strongly consider risk-management standards when building in flood zones… Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard… sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims. Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks… The fight over flood planning comes as Congress is set in September to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program that pays insurance claims. The beleaguered program is nearly $25 billion in debt, an obligation its administrator, Roy Wright, said he can’t repay… Conservationists… [have] found common cause with conservative think tanks worried about saddling the federal government with the burden of paying for flood damage in the future.” Read Trump to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change

Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “Florida has dozens of Superfund sites… [T]he non-profit Environmental Defense Fund says the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget cutbacks could harm and slow the Superfund program… Today, there’s the federal Superfund National Priorities List comprised of 1,336 of the nation’s most polluted sites where cleanups are slated, underway or completed. The Superfund list, in existence since 1983, changes every year as sites are cleaned up and deleted, or added. Florida has 53 Superfund sites… ‘The biggest threat in Florida is that you have a very shallow water table,’ Holstein (of EDF) said.” Read Will EPA funding debate affect contaminated PBC site?





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Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

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Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

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Stop the Port Canaveral Rail Extension Project

Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state



Upcoming Environmental Events    

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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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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