Mark Woods reports for The Florida Times Union – “(Senator) Rob Bradley… [is] the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a nutshell, the 47-year-old Clay County native has his hands on the state’s purse strings as much as any member of the Florida Legislature… This year he is sponsoring bills involving the St. Johns River, springs and Florida Forever… ‘When I think of Florida, I don’t think of strip malls,’ [Senator Bradley] said. ‘I think of places… like this spring, this park and that river in the distance.’ In this legislative session Bradley sponsored a bill to spend $100 million a year on the recently neglected Florida Forever conservation program. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying that it’s surprising a representative from a staunchly conservative rural district would be leading the charge to protect Florida’s environment. Bradley doesn’t see it that way. ‘It’s the one issue where I feel like it’s a consensus,’ he said. ‘This is the most Republican county of all 67 counties. I’ve been elected twice. And I’ve always made it very clear that I’m going to fight for the environment.’… ‘We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can restore the Everglades, make sure the St. Johns River maintains her majestic presence, and preserve the springs.’… ‘I think we have an obligation to preserve these wonderful gifts like this spring and that river,’ he said, pointing at water flowing into the St. Johns. ‘Strip malls will come and go but this is what God gave us. And this is forever.’” Read Clay County’s Bradley fighting for ‘real Florida’
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “[R]esearchers… say creeping sea rise is outpacing (Everglades) restoration efforts. And to save the marshes, they say, the strategy needs to change… [S]ea rise is increasingly outpacing the flow of freshwater during the dry season. By the time spring rains arrive and the South Florida Water Management District begins moving more water south – the district monitors rainfall and typically begins flows about 10 weeks after the start of the wet season – it’s too late to reverse the damage. Rather than use seasonal timing, the researchers say the district needs to look at water levels, and the difference between freshwater and saltwater. ‘Basically the level of freshwater needs to be higher than sea level,’ Price said… Mangroves in Everglades National Park alone provide between $2 billion and $3.4 billion worth of carbon storage… It’s not clear what changing operations to increase water flow south will take, and whether enough water exists. Last year, the National Academies of Science concluded in its annual review of restoration progress that far more freshwater is likely needed to make projects work. Plans to construct a massive reservoir also faltered, with the original proposal for 60,000 acres reduced to 17,000 acres.” Read Sea rise is outpacing Everglades restoration – but scientists say there’s a solution
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “As Park, Bark and Fly was being fined $200,000 last year by the state for wetlands violations, the parking provider… was destroying more wetlands illegally, according to Orange County investigators… [T]he county is now seeking to fine the company $80,000. ‘We knew they knew better,’ said Liz Johnson, assistant manager at the county’s Environmental Protection Division… The expert hired by Park, Bark and Fly to deal with the [St. Johns River Water Management District] regulations is Bio-Tech Consulting…, whose president is John Miklos. He also is the water district chairman.” Read Parking provider near Orlando airport accused of illegal wetlands destruction
John Chambliss reports for The Ledger – “Polk County commissioners… rejected a proposed 39-acre development in the Green Swamp area that would lead to 117 new homes in the rural area… ‘We’re giving false hope to the developer if we start this process,’ (Commissioner) Bell said. ‘We know if we have flooding issues out there, why would we allow this to continue on?’ ‘We have multiple developments there that have flooded,’ (Commissioner) Hall said. ‘Right now is not the time to build.’” Read Polk County denies development proposal for Lakeland’s Green Swamp area
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Miami-Dade county commissioners… balked at a potential deal Mayor Carlos Gimenez has struck with Florida Power & Light… Gimenez announced that FPL had agreed to share the cost of a treatment plant that would help the county meet a 2025 state mandate to stop dumping sewage offshore and instead reuse about 117 million gallons a day. In return, FPL would receive about 60 million gallons of treated wastewater daily to help freshen troubled cooling canals connected to turkey Point’s two aging reactors. The utility… announced that it was applying to extend the operating life of the… twin reactors for another 20 years. They were built in the 1970s and the federal operating licenses are now set to expire in 2032 and 2033. But…, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa pointed out that FPL had previously agreed to decommission the canals, which the county cited for violating pollution laws after finding they were leaking into Biscayne Bay and spreading an underground saltwater plume… Environmentalists also worry that the proposed participation agreement leaves out assurances over… freshwater needs for Biscayne Bay. ‘… [W]e simply do not have enough clean fresh water for Biscayne Bay and reuse water is an amazing solution… if it is treated to a high enough level and actually goes to the bay or aquifer,’ said Miami Waterkeeper Rachel Silverstein. ‘But this deal doesn’t require any benefit to the environment or the county.’” Read Miami-Dade commissioners balk at FPL deal to use county wastewater
Kenya Woodward reports for my Palm Beach Post – “If a legislative proposal to let counties use local tourism dollars to fix roads and sewers becomes Florida law, some Palm Beach County commissioners aren’t so sure the commission would take advantage of it… McKinlay, who is the second vice president of the Florida Association of Counties, said that while she’s hesitant to oppose legislation that supports giving local governments more say over the taxes that it levies, using the money for infrastructure projects is questionable. Instead, she said lawmakers should consider using money from the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) for infrastructure projects… Attempts to use the money for purposes other than buying and managing conservation lands falls outside the intention of the law, said David Guest, counsel for the Florida Wildlife Federation, one of the groups that sued the state. ‘The way you have to apply it is to use the ‘barbershop test,’’ he said. ‘Are you trying to acquire, restore, improve, or manage those lands? If it’s for infrastructure, you’re obviously not.’” Read Palm Beach County leaders question bed tax for infrastructure
Gavin Bade reports for Utility Dive – “- A $3.5 billion pipeline project in the Southeast will continue with construction at least temporarily after a federal court… failed to issue a mandate that would have shut down its operation. - … [T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reiterated an August ruling that threw out the environmental analysis conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project. The court was expected to issue the formal mandate on that decision…, which would have halted the project. FERC and pipeline owners, however, filed for a last-minute delay of the mandate, which E&E News reports could give the project a few weeks of breathing room while judges consider the arguments. FERC also issued a final environmental analysis of the pipeline this week that it says complies with the court’s order to take climate impacts into account.” Read Court filings stave off Sabal Trail pipeline shutdown, for now
Danny Mcauliffe reports for Florida Politics – “Shreyas Amol Jethwani is enrolled in undergraduate political science courses at the University of Florida, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking a stab at a state House seat in the 2018 midterms… He… said it was an interest in the environment – fueled by the wooded areas and springs that surround his hometown – that paved a way for his political involvement… By high school, he was conducting research for Silver Springs in coordination with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at UF. That ultimately led to a stint on the board of directors for the Silver Springs Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness of the issues facing the area’s springs and water systems.” Read UF student vies for HD 21 seat
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
February 14, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group to hear presentations by Marty Mesh, Mike Archer, and Jody Woodson-Swartzman at the Belvedere Library (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Marty Mesh is the founder and executive director of Florida Organic Growers. He will speak about the importance of organic agriculture and accomplishments of the 2017 Inaugural Food & Farming Summit. Mike Archer and Jody Woodson-Swartzman will discuss their efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags. They have a no-sew method of converting a t-shirt into a shopping bag. For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary Hampton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 15, 7:00 pm – Attend “Shorebirds of the Apalachicola System” with Jennifer Manis and Paula Muellner of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Tallahassee. For more information, click here.
February 22, 6:00 pm – Attend 350 Pensacola’s Chasing Coral Event at the West Florida Public Library (239 N. Spring St.) in Pensacola. The event will feature the award-winning film, Chasing Coral, which allows viewers to join divers, photographers, and scientists as they set out to discover why coral reefs are disappearing. After the film, there will be a panel discussion with experts on the plight of the world’s reefs and what we can do to save them. For more information, email email@example.com.
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