FCC News Brief - September 29, 2017

Teresa Stepzinski reports for the Florida Times Union – “Hurricane Irma destroyed or heavily damaged at least 450 Clay County homes, ruined roads and sent nearly 900 residents to the five emergency shelters… Recovery and cleanup won’t be quick. Nor will it likely be cheap… The storm surge fueled by heavy rains, sent record flood waters pouring over the banks of Black Creek destroying homes, splintering boat houses and docks, sweeping away family treasures, and shattering the lives of longtime residents and newcomers. The flood waters topped out at 28.5 feet on both the creek’s North and South prongs Sept. 12, easily eclipsing the North Prong’s previous record of 25.3 feet set in 1919… Emergency personnel rescued at least 350 people from roof tops and porches, as well as 75 animals from the fast-rising flood waters… There’s at least $600,000 in damage to county paved roads, about $200,000 to its dirt roads. Damage to county marinas, parks and recreational facilities is about $226,000… Residents with unmet needs resulting from the storm can call (904) 284 – 7703 for help…” Read Clay officials: Catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma

Celeste De Palma reports for the Miami Herald – “As we band together to rebuild our communities after Hurricane Irma, I can’t help but think what effect this massive storm would have had in Florida if the Everglades weren’t here to protect us… More than ever, restoring the Everglades is what stands between our homes and the next Category 5 storm. Research shows that 2.7 miles of wetlands reduce storm surge by a foot, and one acre of wetlands holds up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwaters… Because the Everglades interacted with Irma before hitting Naples, the storm surge was far less than the 15 feet that were anticipated to affect the west coast… Coastal wetlands in the U.S. are estimated to provide $23.3 billion per year in storm protection, and because they are maintained by nature they are more cost-effective than constructed levees… Further studies show that coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves ecosystems combined provide more protection services than any one individual habitat… Only 50% of [the Everglades] remains and what little remains is in poor shape… Today’s policy discussions must not only focus on establishing stronger zoning and building codes. They must also center on the restoration and preservation of coastal wetlands and mangrove ecosystems in Florida.” Read Yes, the Everglades protected us from Hurricane Irma

Nick Bowlin reports for E&E News – “The praise Scott won for his involved, disciplined response (to Hurricane Irma) comes as he mulls a possible 2018 challenge to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson… Trump himself pushed a bid at a rally with Scott… ‘I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate,’ the president told the crowd… During all his media exposure in recent weeks, Scott has not discussed climate change and its relationship to sea-level rise and storm intensity. These omissions track Scott’s time in office, and that could hurt him… ‘Scott lacks a vision for how we can reduce the risk for Floridians in the future,’ said Frank Jackalone, director of Sierra Club Florida. ‘… If hurricanes continue to intensify, you reach a point where no emergency planning is going to save your homes, and the only option is what Gov. Scott advised,’ which is abandon your home or you die,’ he said. ‘That’s not the choice we want.’… Nelson has built a reputation as an advocate for combatting climate change and restoration of the Florida Everglades, as well as a vehement opponent of offshore drilling.” Read Storm response, climate could be pivotal in Fla. Senate race

Susan Salisbury reports for the Palm Beach Post – “On Aug. 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct a new environmental review of the pipeline and vacated the pipeline’s certificate of approval. The court found that FERC had failed to fully examine the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from FPL’s Marty County Plant in Indiantown, its future Okeechobee County plant and Duke’s Citrus County plant under construction… before approving the pipeline project. On Wednesday, FERC issued a supplemental environmental impact statement finding that as long as required mitigation measures are in place the three plants’ emissions will not be harmful. The plants will increase the permitted emissions by 8.36 million tons of carbon dioxide a year… The Sierra Club… questioned… how FERC could determine the plants’ impact in just a few weeks… ‘Initially, it looks like there are some issues there. They limited their analysis to five years, although the plants operate for decades,’ Hubber (of Sierra Club) said. ‘Another issue is they compare the new greenhouse gas emissions to what would have happened with coal. It should be compared to wind and solar. They don’t take into account how this is displacing wind and solar from the market,’” Read FPL, Duke gas plants will not have significant impact, agency says

Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The… Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a nine-page statement… that says’ it’s ‘inappropriate’ for the agency to try to figure out the climate change impact of the controversial Sabal Trail Pipeline… [T]he ruling had left FERC an out: The judges declared that the environmental impact statement for the project was required to either quantify the impact of GHG resulting from burning the fracked gas transported by the pipeline or explain why it failed to do so. So…, FERC explained why it chose not to do so.” Read Feds say it’s ‘inappropriate’ to calculate greenhouse gas emissions from controversial Florida pipeline

Chad Gillis reports for News Press – “Water managers… approved a $758 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year… Some highlights from the budget: - $55 million for water resource planning and monitoring, -$369 million for land acquisition and restoration, -$272 million in operation and maintenance costs, -$129 million for the Caloosahatchee Reservoir, -$36 million in employee costs.” Read Water managers approve $758M water budget with no discussion

Stephen Leahy reports for National Geographic – “Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a new report has found. And yet this does not include this past month’s three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in nine Western states. Those economic losses alone are estimated to top $300 billion… Putting it in perspective, $300 billion is enough money to provide free tuition for the 13.5 million U.S. students enrolled in public colleges and universities for four years… In the coming decade, economic losses from extreme weather combined with the health costs of air pollution spiral upward to at least $360 billion annually, potentially crippling U.S. economic growth… Renewable energy, even when subsidized, will save America billions of dollars… ” Read Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year

Emily Guskin and Brady Dennis report for The Washington Post – “A majority of Americans say that global climate change contributed to the severity of recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. That marks a significant shift of opinion from a dozen years ago… [A]ttitudes among Republicans have hardly changed over the same period. About 72 percent currently say that the severity of recent storms was merely the result of the kind of intense weather events that materialize periodically. In 2005, 70 percent had that view.” Read Majority of Americans now say climate change makes hurricanes more intense



From Our Readers

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Organizing Representative in Miami for Sierra Club Florida

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Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

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Paynes Prairie in danger

Help Florida Become a “Pay for Shade” state


Upcoming Environmental Events    

September 29, 2:00 pm Attend or view a live stream of FSU’s Environmental College of Law Fall 2017 Environmental Forum: “The Psychology of Climate Change: Why do People Believe What they Believe?” For more information, click here.

October 3, 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. October’s lecture is a Springs Overview – Past, Present, and Future with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454- 2427.

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 $50. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

October 19, 6:30 pm – Attend “Natural Treasures of the Florida Panhandle,” a presentation by Bruce Means, Coastal Plains Institute, at The King Life Sciences Building, FSU, in Tallahassee.

October 28, 11:30 am – Join the Silver Springs Alliance for a scavenger hunt as you paddle this iconic waterway in Silver Springs.  Channel the spirits of Florida's river past by dressing up in a costume that reflects Florida's cultural heritage: Spanish conquistadors, pioneers, steamboat travelers, or movie characters from the Spring's film legacy!  Be creative and win a prize in our costume contest! All ages are welcome! Proceeds from this event will support the Silver Springs Alliance’s efforts to protect Silver Springs and River. For more information and to register, click here.


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