Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “This year…, you could say that the big environmental issue is money. Or you could say that the issue is whether legislators ever pay attention to what the voters want… Florida once had a politically popular land-buying program called Florida Forever that preserved some of the remaining wild places in the state’s rapidly developing landscape… Between 2009 and 2014, lawmakers slashed its funding by more than 97 percent. So in 2014, frustrated environmental advocates mustered enough support to put on the ballot a measure called Amendment 1. This constitutional amendment was intended to require the state to revive the funding for Florida Forever… Last year, once again, the Legislature failed to come up with a dime for buying land under the Florida Forever program… Estus Whitfield, an environmental adviser to four governors who helped organize the Florida Conservation Coalition, believes the Legislature may siphon out so much money that there’s not going to be enough left to buy land for preservation.” Read One more time to revive Florida Forever before it’s Florida Never
Danny Mcauliffe reports for Florida Politics – “Wraithmell said [Audubon Florida]… is concerned with management and acquisition of public lands, along with water issues, climate, growth management, and more… ‘We’ll continue to advocate for those (land conservation) programs to ensure we’re setting aside the places that we depend upon not just for recreation and jobs, not just for wildlife, but also as green infrastructure for our communities,’ Wraithmell said. She added that doing so makes the land more resilient, protecting the state from catastrophes while also helping to recharge water supply.” Read Audubon happy Rick Scott opposes drilling, releases Session priorities
A.G. Gancarski reports for Florida Politics – “’Based on media reports, it is likely that the Department of interior will consider Florida as a potential state for offshore oil drilling – which is something I oppose in Florida,’ (Governor) Scott said. ‘I have already asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,’ Scott added… Scott joins his likely opponent in this year’s Senate race, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, in opposing the expansion of offshore drilling proposed by the Trump White House.” Read Florida pols oppose proposed offshore oil drilling; Donald Trump isn’t worried
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “President Trump has managed to unite Democrats and Republicans in Florida – against him. The bipartisan criticism stems from the Interior Department’s announcement… that the president wants to open almost all federal waters to offshore drilling… Current rules keep drilling at least 125 miles away from most of the Gulf Coast until 2022. Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke want to end the ban and allow drilling as close as 10 miles from shore, threatening Florida’s economy. President Trump isn’t stopping there. He’d also lease sales off Florida’s Atlantic coast and in the Florida Straits, near the Keys… So emotional is the drilling issue…, that even some of the president’s loudest Florida supporters have joined the choirs of opposition… Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose Panhandle district went for Trump by the highest margin in the state, said the proposal ‘would be catastrophic to our military, and to our local tourism economy.’” Read Trump’s drilling plan poses unacceptable risk to Florida
Eve Samples writes for the TC Palm – “Estimated at $1.6 billion, the reservoir project will not be cheap. That’s all the more reason to make sure we get it right. The water management district estimates its configurations of the project, when combined with other projects already in the works, would reduce annual average discharges from Lake O to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers by about 60 percent. In particularly heavy discharge years… the flow would be reduced by about 45 percent… That still is a lot of water coming our way. Last year, 134 billion gallons of Lake O water were discharged to the St. Lucie River. That’s enough to cover the entire city of Stuart with 7 ½ feet of water… In 2016, it was almost double that – a whopping 237 billion gallons. Cutting those discharges in half still looks pretty awful for the St. Lucie River. Lawmakers would be wise to examine an alternative plan being advocated by the Everglades Foundation that could clean more water.” Read Pivotal moment for our estuaries and the Everglades
Jonathan Stacey reports for News4JAx – “The Environmental Protection Agency has identified more than 1,800 old manufacturing and chemical plants, landfills, waste treatment centers and military sites across the nation as hazardous areas that pose a risk to human and environmental health. They are called federal Superfund sites, but it now appears more than 300 of those sites are too close for comfort – if high water rushes in… Johnston lives just two blocks away from one of Jacksonville’s two federal Superfund sites that are either located in a floodplain or vulnerable to sea level rise… The Associated Press found dozens more sites like these across the state and found most of them are concentrated in South Florida… Despite EPA’s announced emphasis on expediting cleanups, the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 spending plan seeks to slash Superfund program funding by nearly one third.” Read Hundreds of Superfund sites face flood risks
Craig Welch reports for National Geographic- “Marine waters… are losing oxygen thanks to climate change, upending where and how sea creatures live… Warm water simply carries less oxygen. It also stokes the metabolism of both microbes and larger creatures, causing them to use more of whatever oxygen there is. Finally, as climate change warms the ocean from the surface down, making the surface layer more buoyant – warm water is lighter than cold water – it makes it harder for fresh oxygen from the air to mix down into the deep layers where the oxygen-poor zones are located. Today, those low-oxygen zones are expanding toward the surface by as much as a meter a year… For some marine creatures, low oxygen waters can impair reproduction, shorten lifespans, and change behavior. Even brief exposure can change immune systems and increase disease. Low-oxygen waters can even affect future generations by altering gene expression in fish and other marine creatures. The change is already forcing everything from tuna and sharks… into ever-smaller bands of oxygen-rich water near the surface. Concentrating all these creatures makes them easier pickings for turtles, birds, and other surface predators – including fishing fleets.” Read Climate Change is Suffocating Large Parts of the Ocean
Oliver Milman reports for The Guardian – “The Trump administration’s plan to shrink four land-based national monuments has provoked howls of anguish from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some businesses... Accompanying changes to protected monuments in the oceans – vastly larger areas than their land-based counterparts – have received less attention, but could have major consequences for the livelihoods and ecosystems dependent upon the marine environment. Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, has recommended… that three sprawling marine monuments, one in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific, be either opened up to the commercial fishing industry or reduced in size, or both… In 2009, George W Bush created the Pacific Remote Islands national monument around seven islands and atolls in the central Pacific. The monument, subsequently expanded by Barack Obama to become what was the largest marine protected area in the world, comprises ‘the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet,’ according to the Fish & Wildlife Service, boasting creatures such as sea turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks and giant clams… Conservation groups fret that commercial fishing would only be a precursor to further invasions, such as oil drilling or seabed mining. The Atlantic monument is considered particularly sensitive due to its dense forests of deep-sea corals and its role as a migratory route for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which has experienced an alarming dip in numbers this year… Peter Baker, director of US oceans, north-east, at the Pew Charitable Trusts [said, ‘]It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect 2% of the US’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations…’” Read Trump plan to shrink ocean monuments threatens vital ecosystems, experts warn
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 9, 12:00 pm – Attend Springs Academy Tuesday, a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs, in High Springs. January’s lecture is on Springs Biology with special guest Dr. Stephen Walsh of the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 2427.
January 15-16 – Participate in Florida Coasts & Ocean Citizen Advocacy Day in Tallahassee. This is your opportunity to speak out for clean water and healthy beaches. Citizens will support the plastic bag ban bills, water quality monitoring, beach access, and more. They will receive free training and food. For more information and to register, click here.
January 18, 7:00 pm – Attend The Islands at Apalachicola with Jeff Chanton & Susan Cerulean in Tallahassee. Experts will discuss how the Apalachicola River’s flow affects the configuration of St. Vincent Island and its wildlife. There is a social at 7:00 pm and the program begins at 7:30 pm. For more information, click here.
January 20, 9:00 am – Participate in the annual Newnan’s Lake Cleanup in Gainesville. Volunteers will meet at Earl P. Powers Park (5910 SE Hawthorne Rd) on the southwest edge of the lake. Current Problems will provide cleanup supplies such as bags, grabbers, gloves, nets, and scales. There will be snacks and drinks for volunteers. For more information, contact Megan Black at email@example.com.
January 30-31 – Participate in the Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day in Tallahassee. Citizens will gather together to support climate action and land conservation funding. They will receive free advocacy training and may receive free lodging. For more information, click here.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 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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