FCC News Brief - September 13, 2017

Alan Taylor reports for The Atlantic – “[I]mages of the destruction left behind (Hurricane Irma) are beginning to appear… Residents are now beginning to return to asses the damage, and begin recovery and rebuilding efforts.” See Photos of the Damage Left by Hurricane Irma in Florida

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Hurricane Irma caused no significant damage to the dike around Lake Okeechobee and raised the lake level by less than half a foot. So far. Most of the rainwater runoff from the area north of Lake O, which was in Irma’s direct path, hasn’t yet reached the lake, and comprehensive inspections of the dike are not yet complete…” Read Hurricane Irma raises Lake Okeechobee 4 inches with more to come; discharges not imminent

Michael Biesecker reports for the Associated Press – “State and federal environmental regulators issued a blanket waiver on Monday for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards without penalty for the next two weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency said the so-called No Action Assurance… came at the request of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The letter said the move will provide Florida utility generators needed flexibility to maintain and restore electricity supplies in the wake of Hurricane Irma… The EPA’s assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution control equipment. Coal-fired plants can also discharge wastewater laced with levels of toxic-heavy metals at higher concentrations than what would normally be permitted.” Read EPA grants pollution waiver to Florida utilities after Irma

Dino Grandoni reports for The Washington Post – “As Hurricane Irma, whose destructive power has been amplified by rising sea levels and warmer oceans associated with climate change, charged its way through the Florida peninsula this weekend, here’s a reminder: The official voted into power not so long ago has gone to work undoing efforts by his predecessor to begin considering the consequences of a warming world. I am not referring to President Trump, although he fits the above description. I am talking about Florida’s GOP governor, Rick Scott, a Trump ally who since taking office in 2011 has – along with the state’s Republican-led legislature – barely acknowledged the growing environmental issue of global warming that threatens the state’s long and low-lying coastline. The governor before Scott, Charlie Crist… convened a climate change summit in Miami and created a task force focused on the issue… Scott reversed Crist’s efforts, effectively dismantling the Florida Energy and Climate Commission established under the previous governor and going so far as to discourage state employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming”… The result: Cities and counties have been left to fend for themselves to figure out how to handle rising waters along Florida’s coast… Local efforts without the support of the governor are ‘like trying to have a team without a coach,’ Thomas Ruppert, a coastal planning specialist with the Florida Sea Grant program, told The Post. The state simply has more engineering and scientific resources to deploy than a city or county ever would.” Read The Energy 202: First, Florida. Next, the nation

Dexter Filkins writes for The New Yorker – “If you grow up in Florida, you watch the natural world around you disappear. It’s just a fact you live with… It doesn’t matter when you moved to Florida. Ever since the nineteen-sixties, the stream of people pouring into the state has been relentless… All of them need places to live… In the nineteen-nineties, I covered the Miami-Dade county commissioners as a reporter for the Miami Herald… [I]n the time I worked there, one thing never changed: the enthusiasm with which the elected commissioners greeted every new housing or commercial development unveiled before them… [T]he economy of modern Florida is a kind of Ponzi scheme, where tomorrow’s growth pays for today’s needs, and real estate is the largest employer… Living in Florida, you didn’t have to be a genius to realize that what was happening wasn’t sustainable – that Florida wasn’t meant to have so many people… so near the coasts… The millions of people who [streamed] north to get away (from Hurricane Irma) are not just a measure of Irma’s power but a symbol of that moment, which comes in every Ponzi scheme, when the bluff is called. Maybe it will be different next time.” Read Elegy for the Sunshine State

Dan Neal and Juan Zapata report for The Gainesville Sun – “[I]n the wake of President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismantle regulations that protect our environment and his shameful withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord… (U.S. Congressman) Yoho openly defends policies that would leave the environment, and hence us, vulnerable to harm. Yoho argues that ‘the best avenue… begins with the state,’ and that weakening ‘a heavy-handed Washington agency – like the Environmental Protection Agency’ is good policy. Regardless of one’s politics, this is nonsense. Pollution knows no boundaries… The absence of a federal baseline for environmental protection would reduce the nation’s efforts to control pollution to the least common denominator. States with the laxest guidelines would spread pollution to their neighbors and become magnets for industries looking to cut corners, forcing other states to limit regulation in order to compete for jobs. A joint system of both federal and state laws would be most effective. We could then create legislation that establishes a healthy national standard of protection, while allowing states to target problem areas within their borders.” Read Yoho’s positions are harmful to planet’s health

BBC reports – “Pope Francis has warned history will judge world leaders who do not act as he blasted climate change sceptics in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey… Pope Francis… fears the impact of climate change will be hardest on the world’s poorest residents, and has been openly critical of those who do not play their part in reducing its effects…” Read Hurricane Irma: Pope Francis condemns climate change sceptics

Chris Mooney reports for The Washington Post – “With Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall records and now Irma’s stunning combination of extreme strength and longevity, the hurricane-global warming debate is back in full swing. And it has evolved… Scientists are more confident now in their messages, more willing to link factors like worsened storm surge flooding and hurricane rainfall to climate change… [T]here’s a case to be made that the climate change-hurricane discussion should be broadened – a move that will give a sense both of how consequential and how uncertain the issue actually is.” Read Four underappreciated ways that climate change could make hurricanes even worse





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Organizing Representative in Miami for Sierra Club Florida

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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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

September 20, 7:00 pm – Attend the premiere of the “Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs” documentary in Winter Park. For tickets and 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 (cjmericle@gmail.com, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (merrillee.malwitz-jipson@sierraclub.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 resourcewisdom@gmail.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.



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