Lucas Daprile reports for the TC Palm – “TCPalm obtained hundreds of South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) emails, Outlook calendar meeting invitations and various other internal documents to shed light on a U.S. Sugar Corp. lobbyist’s influence over the agency’s water pollution rules… [SFWMD officials] were on the verge of an agricultural pollution crackdown when they scrapped their plans and let a sugar lobbyist dictate edits to a 2015 annual report that paved the way for weaker regulations, emails show. The [SFWMD] changed course immediately after a Dec. 3, 2014 meeting with U.S. Sugar Corp. lobbyist Irene Quincey, eventually halting its planned policy in favor of a plan that takes polluters at their word and holds no one accountable if water quality suffers… [T]he sugar lobbyist’s edits helped align the district with the [DEP’s] weaker Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), which uses simulated computer models to assess the pollution cleanup progress of large areas. It doesn’t single out any landowner or set enforceable pollution limits for farms. ‘The BMAP process, historically, has a reputation of not being enforced and therefore being not very effective,’ former Florida Gov. Bob Graham told TCPalm… [T]wo of [Quincey’s] key edits, among others: - The word ‘enforceable’ was deleted in three places where the district cited its authority to regulate phosphorus pollution in the Lake Okeechobee, St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River basins. – All references were deleted to a $650,000 district study that used scientific data from water monitoring sensors to zero in on areas around Lake Okeechobee that weren’t cutting phosphorus pollution enough to meet state-mandated limits… Open-government advocate Barbara Peterson… called the lobbyist’s interference ‘disturbing.’ ‘We’re assuming there is a certain scientific standard… Then they make substantive changes based on requests from a lobbyist,’ she said. ‘Those changes are not peer-reviewed, which calls into question the standard by which these reports are put out…’” Read South Florida Water Management District emails show U.S. Sugar Corp. lobbyist’s influence
Zach Murdock reports for the Herald Tribune – “Population growth and new development overwhelmingly topped the list of issues concerning Sarasota County residents, a new survey shows.” Read Growth, development again tops annual survey of Sarasota County
Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “If you’re building a new house or putting on a new roof next year, and your place is bigger than 1,100 square feet, then St. Petersburg city officials may require you to install solar panels… St. Petersburg hopes to boost the number of solar-powered homes as part of a broader commitment made last year to convert the city to renewable energy sources… Council Chairwoman Darden Rice said… she’s leaning toward voluntary measures, such as creating incentives, to promote solar.” Read St. Petersburg proposal would require solar panels on new homes and major roof repairs
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Duke Energy will build nine or more solar plants… Also in Duke’s plans are research and development of large batteries able to store solar energy, smart meters for all customers deployed through 2020, 500 charging stations for electric cars, improved cyber security and grid technology that would include outages detection… Duke’s proposed nuclear plant in Levy County never materialized, although customers have been footing costs for land and early development. Duke said… that it is formally ending its quest to build a new nuclear plant and will no longer pass any of its costs to customers.” Read Duke Energy goes big on solar, drops nuclear charge for customers
Kristina Webb reports for the Palm Beach Post – “The Florida panther should remain classified as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told President Donald Trump’s administration Tuesday…” Read Keep Florida panther on endangered list, Nelson tells Trump administration
Anthony Piel writes for the TC Palm – “Today, Dow’s 2.4D herbicide containing Agent Orange is being used on croplands in the United States. The World Health Organization has long warned of the risks of misuse, or excessive use, of Roundup and other herbicides, especially those that contain Glyphosphate, which is linked to lymphoma cancer… We need to test all Florida water flows, not just for excessive fertilizers, but also for pesticides and herbicides, whose cumulative effects might be insufficiently known… Let’s not allow inertia to threaten the health and lives of future generations. We need to follow the example of other states such as Connecticut, where it has been shown that removal of undesirable weeds from lakes and waterways is feasible using conventional mechanical harvesters on rafts at costs equal to the use of herbicides. This practice is much safer for humans and wildlife, while providing jobs for local workers. The harvested weeds can then be composted and used as fertilizer.” Read Heavy rains pollute Florida’s waters, threaten human health
Richard Luscombe writes for The Guardian – “[W]hat was already a trend toward factoring in environmental threats and climate change to land and property values looks certain to become the standard nationwide as Houston begins to mop up from the misery of Harvey… [T]he… Climate Corporation… has… warned that it would take only ‘a few climatic events in a row’ for a collapse in property values ‘that will make the housing crisis [of 2008] look small.’… Harvey was… the latest natural disaster to expose flaws in the national flood insurance programme allowing property owners in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s so-called Zone X – areas at risk of a once-in-500 years flood event – not to carry coverage or fully disclose their flood risk when they sell.” Read How climate change could turn US real estate prices upside down
Jerry Iannelli writes for the Miami New Times – “Corcoran… announced a plan to kill Florida’s public-election-financing laws, which help elect candidates who don’t want donations from the corporations, utility companies, real-estate magnates, and billionaires who effectively control state politics… Koch’s lobbying arm is… ecstatic about the plan… ‘We commend Speaker Corcoran for calling to end political welfare for political candidates,’ Americans for Prosperity Florida… announced… ‘Individuals seeking to be public servants should not burden the public to finance their political ambitions.’ There’s plenty of evidence that laws such as Florida’s public campaign financing are good for democracy. Scores of studies… show taxpayer-funded elections, as opposed to privately funded ones like we largely have now, are more egalitarian, engage voters better, and produce more competitive candidates who respond faster to the issues of everyday constituents. (Australia, Germany, France, and Israel publicly fund almost the entirety of their elections.)… Corcoran…is… asking the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission to propose a law abolishing the process… Florida’s 1986 law has proven mostly ineffectual and has not stopped moneyed interests from consolidating their hold on state politics. Over the years, caps on campaign spending under the law increased, to the point where established candidates such as Charlie Crist were able to take $2.5 million in matching funds while accepting gobs of cash from corporate donors, which was something the law was designed to prevent… Florida is already a test case for what happens when moneyed interests are allowed to buy off the political class and bankroll nearly every politician in the state… If anything, Florida needs a far stronger public-election-financing law. Don’t let Corcoran and the Kochs convince you otherwise.” Read Koch Brothers Cheer Florida Lawmaker’s Plan to Give Corporations More Political Power
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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, 6:30 pm – Attend a screening of “Troubled Waters,” in Orlando followed by a panel discussion featuring Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, and Professor James C. Adamski. For more information and to register, click here.
September 12, 6:30 pm – Attend Stop the Drill! At the Bayview Senior Center (2000 East Lloyd St.) in Pensacola. Erin Handy of Oceana will update the group on the push to lease parts of the Gulf of Florida for oil drilling, and share how citizens and businesses can get involved in the battle to keep the rigs away. She’ll also inform the group on seismic testing.
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 22-23, 9:00 AM – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. This is Florida’s only event focusing exclusively on native wildflowers and the wildlife depending on them. The event features field trips; garden walks; presentations on conservation issues, bees, butterflies and other wildlife; and hands-on workshops on propagation and wildflower meadow installation. For more information, click here.
September 22, 9:00 AM – Attend a Conservation Lands Workshop in Punta Gorda. For more information and to register, 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 (email@example.com, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (firstname.lastname@example.org, (352) 222 – 8893).
October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.
October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email email@example.com.
October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $100. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.
Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.
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.
Please send all suggestions, comments, and criticism to Gladys Delgadillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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