FCC News Brief - September 30, 2017

Nick Evans reports for WFSU – “People in Wakulla County want to see education and environmental legislation when lawmakers get back to work next month… Many attendees… pressed Montford and Beshears about funding the land buying program Florida Forever. In spring sheds – like Wakulla – putting acreage into public hands can help protect water quality. What’s more, environmentalists point out Amendment 1 provides a steady and reliable stream of funding for the program. But this year lawmakers didn’t appropriate a dime for it. Sandy Tedder wants to see that change. ‘I wanted to, and I know I’m not alone in urging you all, to fund the Florida Forever program,’ Tedder told the lawmakers. ‘I know it’s a big thing for Florida, for the whole state, for a lot of people. Amendment 1 was voted overwhelmingly when it came up in 2014.’” Read Wakulla Residents Raise Education, Environmental Concerns

The Cape Coral Daily Breeze Editorial writes – “We add our voice to those heralding the purchase (of Edison Farms)… [W]hile the $42.4 million price tag is a hefty one, the acreage… is an integral part of the Lee Plan’s designated Density Reduction /Groundwater Resource area. Properties within the DRGR mark the region’s aquifer recharge area and are so earmarked to protect the sources of Lee County’s drinking water… [W]etland properties like… Edison Farms also serve to protect the water quality conditions in Estero Bay and the Estero River by providing filtration for stormwater runoff… [A]s Hurricane Irma made abundantly clear, development in low-lying areas is problematic in the best of times, catastrophic in the worst… [T]he six-section Edison Farms purchase abuts existing Conservation 20/20 lands, and so also provides critical habitat while enhancing the wildlife corridor used by endangered and threatened species like the Florida panther and black bear… [W]e… thank the voters of Lee County who have opted, not once, but twice, to support this far-sighted land preservation program.” Read Kudos to Lee County

U.S. Congressman Darren Soto writes for the Miami Herald – “Any time a hurricane barrels toward our coasts… our priorities must be protecting people… [T]hat includes protecting everyone from the dangerous toxic chemicals and pollution that can be unleashed by destructive storms… EPA… is responsible for working with water agencies to test and protect water supplies from sewage and chemical releases, to help secure Superfund and hazardous waste sites from leaking toxic contaminants and to work with communities to monitor air quality as winds and water bring hazards into the air… Unfortunately, even as disaster threats worsen…, EPA’s disaster-related efforts and other critical… programs… are on the chopping block… Our state is a peninsula whose success is dependent on the water around us:… on the fishing industry, on the commercial farmlands in Central Florida, and on the lakes, rivers and estuaries that need to be clean to provide clean drinking water and attract tourists. But our waters and wetlands face growing challenges, like algal bloom, red tide, and fish kills… EPA’s support has been essential to Florida’s efforts to clean up and prevent water pollution, replace ineffective septic tanks, and conduct research to protect endangered aquatic life and help communities map and plan for sea level rise… Fortunately, colleagues on both sides of the House rejected the part of the President’s plan which would cut even more, restoring funding for Charlotte Bay, the Indian River Lagoon, Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay which all rely on the National Estuary Program which he proposed eliminating… Though I wish we could have fixed it all in the House, we must now urge the Senate, including our Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, to ride the environmental ship. The Senate is to take up EPA funding as early as next week… I encourage Governor Scott to step up and take a leadership role in fighting for Florida’s families and tourist sector. The governor has been absent in this fight to protect EPA dollars that are vital in disasters and every day.” Read EPA’s plan to cut funding to Florida would endanger our way of life

Ledyard King reports for the TC Palm – “The Senate passed a bill… to devote more federal resources to combating algae blooms… The measure, sponsored by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, would give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency authority to declare a severe algae bloom as a nationally significant event. The declaration would trigger federal resources available to those impacted by the outbreak. The measure also would authorize – though not guarantee - $110 million over the next five years for research into the causes and control of large algae blooms and hypoxia… Earlier this month, the House passed a catch-all spending bill that included $21.6 million aimed at combating harmful algal blooms and studying the health impact of the crisis. The amendments providing the money were sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast…” Read Bill would steer more federal resources to target algae blooms

The Center for Biological Diversity writes for EcoWatch – “U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah introduced legislation this week (S. 1863: “Native Species Protection Act”) that would strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for animals and plants found in only one state. Known as intrastate species, such imperiled animals and plants make up the majority of… species protected under the act… [T]he legislation would terminate protections for all 1,098 intrastate species, including… 86 species in Florida (including the Florida panther)… Since January congressional Republicans have launched 47 legislative attacks against the Endangered Species Act or specific endangered species… These attacks continue despite the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans support the Endangered Species Act and want it either strengthened or left unchanged by Congress…” Read Senate Bill Aims to Strip Protections from 1,098 Endangered Species Including Utah Prairie Dog, Florida Panther

David Smiley reports for the Miami Herald – “A nonprofit linked to a sea-rise advocacy group out of New York is planning a six-figure marketing effort behind Mayor Tomas Regalado’s Miami Forever general obligation bond… Nearly half the (bond) money would pay for sweeping storm drain improvements, pumps and other efforts to brace the city against flooding and climate change, with the remainder going toward affordable housing, parks and public safety.” Read Sea rise group to spend $200K on Miami Forever bond campaign

David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “Big Cypress is home to bears, panthers, wading birds and alligators. It’s also home to oil, with two active well fields operating there since the 1970s. Burnett Oil Co… started looking for additional deposits across 110 square miles of the preserve earlier this year, using specialized trucks to pound the ground with steel plates and listen to the resulting seismic waves. Unable to finish the survey before the arrival of the wet season, the company has applied for a renewal of its state permit. Four environmental groups oppose the permit renewal, filing letters with [DEP] that describe the oil company’s work so far as a sloppy operation that has harmed the preserve. The work killed or damaged trees and left ruts in the soil up to 17 inches deep, they said. And they said National Park Service staff weren’t always able to keep ahead of the trucks, as required under the company’s permits, to head off disturbances to denning panthers, nesting birds or other wildlife… ‘We’re talking about a lot of disturbance in a national preserve, hydrologically connected to Everglades National Park… for very little return,’ Kelly said. ‘The only people who are going to benefit from this are the oil company and the mineral right owner. This is prime Florida panther habitat. There’s too much at stake here for very little return, since there’s such small amounts of crude oil underneath.’” Read New fight breaks out over oil drilling in Everglades

Kara Irby reports for Florida State University News – “Florida State University has entered into a multiyear contract with Cenergistic LLC to build a customized energy conservation program that is projected to save the university millions in energy costs… Over the life of the five-year contract, the company will perform on-site and ongoing assessments of the university’s facilities and deliver recommendations specific to the university’s environment… Florida State will not pay for the management of the program, but instead, 100 percent of the company’s compensation is paid based on the actual savings realized by the university.” Read Florida State University focuses on energy conservation with new partnership




From Our Readers

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Paynes Prairie in danger

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Upcoming Environmental Events    

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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