FCC News Brief - April 11, 2019

Quote of the Day: The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” -Lady Bird Johnson

Read Lawmakers jump to fund red tide research, but some environmentalists are wary - “At its height, last year’s intense bout of red tide brought respiratory distress, deposits of dead marine life and a sharp hit to the state’s tourism industry. The massive fish kills and beach closings on the Gulf Coast also drew attention to former Gov. Rick Scott’s environmental record, which included slashing budgets for the agencies that are supposed to enforce pollution regulations and monitor water quality...This year a pair of bills are promising an investment in red tide mitigation to the tune of $3 million per year for six years. As of Tuesday, both bills had passed unanimously through their first two committee stops, but environmentalists from the Sierra Club and the University of Miami are not so keen on the plan. The investments award the money to Mote Marine Laboratory, a Sarasota research nonprofit, with the goal of creating a partnership with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, instead of opening a process that would allow other research agencies, colleges or universities to bid for the funds...The twin bills give some environmentalists pause. Mote, environmentalists say, needs to spend more time and resources on prevention. If they don’t, the negative effects will be “foisted upon taxpayers,” they say. Cris Costello, of Sierra Club, said the group is “sidestepping” from the science that shows human waste and agricultural runoff feed the nutrient loads that instigate much of the pollution. She pointed out Mote’s relationship with companies like Mosaic, which produces a commonly used phosphorus-based fertilizer that creates solid waste and polluted water. Mosaic is listed as a corporate sponsor on Mote’s website. “Both the polluters and Mote win with this narrative,” Costello said. “Mote wins because they get money. The polluters win because the focus is not on the source of the nutrient pollution, but rather on control and mitigation...” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Aging infrastructure and storms contribute to massive spills- “More than 900,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed into Sarasota Bay after a violent December storm forced open a city pipe. Summer rain in Daytona Beach and equipment failure in Jacksonville each prompted more than a quarter-million gallons of human waste to spill from sewers last year. In Boca Raton, a pressurized pipe gushed out nearly 50,000 gallons of untreated wastewater, while another 55,000 gallons spewed from a DeFuniak Springs manhole into nearby Bruce Creek. These sewage spills are emblematic of failing wastewater systems across Florida, which is grappling with aging infrastructure and no clear solutions for funding a fix. During the past decade, deteriorating sewers have released 1.6 billion gallons of wastewater, much of it polluting the state’s estuaries and oceans, according to a GateHouse Media analysis of state environmental data. More than 370 million gallons of that was completely untreated. Experts say the sewage has fed the blue-green algae blooms wreaking havoc on Florida estuaries and exacerbated red tide in the Gulf of Mexico. Amid historic growth, environmentalists fear it will only get worse…”  Josh Salman, Jennifer Borresen, Daphne Chen and Dak Le report for GateHouse Media.

Read Publix embraces plastic bag ban in South Carolina, so why not in Florida?- “Grocery stores in the South Carolina town of Mount Pleasant will have to ditch plastic bags next week in favor of paper or reuseable canvas ones. Publix is one of several supermarkets in the Charleston suburb anticipating the change...In Florida, Publix is a driving force against similar local bans. A decade ago, as mounting research showed billions of tons of plastic polluted the oceans and threatened wildlife, coastal-conscious cities across the state considered cracking down on shopping bags. But Publix, along with the closely aligned Florida Retail Federation and others, convinced lawmakers to ban any bans, and there’s been a moratorium on local bag rules ever since. Florida Representative Anna Eskamani co-sponsored a bill this session to lift the prohibition and allow local officials to decide whether they wanted the single-use plastic carriers in their communities. It’s one of the four dozen bills Publix registered to lobby on this session. Neither Eskamani’s bill nor a similar Senate measure went anywhere in Tallahassee. The company insists there’s no space between its statement in South Carolina and its position in Florida...The Lakeland-based company has nearly 800 stores in Florida. Eskamani said there’s a simple solution: get rid of plastic bags across the entire company instead of lobbying against the will of democratically elected local governments.” Steve Contorno reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Ban certain sunscreens? Florida Senate committee blocks cities, counties from doing it - “A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a bill that would threaten local governments with hefty fines if they prohibit the sale of certain sunscreens, though lawmakers dropped the part of the bill that would have prevented local officials from  banning plastic straws. The bill targets sunscreens in an attempt to keep Key West from enforcing an ordinance that would ban the sale and use of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, a chemical that a study says harms coral reefs. That ordinance is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. Three powerful companies with a stake in the sale of sunscreens are registered to lobby on the bill (SB 588), sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine. They are Johnson & Johnson, which makes multiple sunscreens with oxybenzone, as well as Publix and Walmart, stores that sell the product…” Ana Ceballos reports for the News Service of Florida.

Read Florida’s proposed fracking ban incomplete without acidizing - “When newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order implementing major reforms to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water quality and opposing hydraulic fracturing—better known as “fracking”—many Floridians were ecstatic. Republican and Democrat state legislators have since proposed several bills to enact a fracking ban. However, the bills advancing through the Florida House and Senate fall short of protecting Florida’s sensitive natural resources because they do not include a ban of a more commonly used well stimulation technique in Florida known as “matrix acidizing” or “acidizing.” Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technology that has allowed production of oil and gas from “unconventional” reservoirs across the United States. Hydraulic fracturing is a form of “reservoir stimulation”—broadly, a set of practices used to increase oil and gas production. Due to the state’s geology, hydraulic fracturing will likely not be a key technology for producing oil in Florida. However, a different well stimulation technique, known as “matrix acidizing,” is more likely to be used in Florida…” Alison Kelly and Briana Mordick write for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Read The confidential oil plan that could cost Trump reelection - “The Trump administration is considering auctioning off Florida’s coastal waters for oil and gas drilling — and Republicans are warning it could cost the president dearly in Florida in the 2020 election. An industry lobbying offensive has put it on the cusp of achieving its holy grail: access to the resource-rich eastern Gulf of Mexico. The idea is so politically toxic in Florida that past presidents haven't even entertained it. But behind the scenes, oil and gas interests are appealing to Trump's desire to turbocharge U.S. energy production, including his past openness to drilling off the Florida coast. The president and his top advisers haven't yet weighed in on the plan taking shape inside his Interior Department. But giving it the green light would be tantamount to a declaration of war on his second home state, given the uniform opposition from Florida Republicans, including prominent allies like Sen. Rick Scott, Gov. Ron DeSantis and others. He would have a price to pay for that,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), a staunch Trump supporter, told POLITICO…” Zack Colman and Ben Lefebvre write for Politico.

Read Florida delegation must compel Interior nominee Bernhardt toupold moratorium on oil rigs off our coast - “The Deepwater Horizon disaster, with its ninth anniversary approaching, proved that even a spill in the western Gulf of Mexico can have devastating impacts throughout the Gulf and even threaten the south Atlantic. That’s why it is critical that our Florida delegation does everything that they can to compel the nominee for the Department of Interior, David Bernhardt, to uphold the moratorium that keeps oil rigs off of Florida’s coasts. During the confirmation process, Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio should demand assurances from Bernhardt that oil drilling is a dead issue in Florida. When the offshore oiling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the waters off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010, it sparked one of the biggest environmental disasters in American history. Eleven workers died, and the aftermath of the explosion highlighted the human, economic and environmental risks of continued investment in fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. Over the course of nearly three months, the spill released approximately 4 billion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico… J.P. Brooker and Andy Hayslip write Special to the Tampa Bay Times.

Read It’s not your imagination. Allergy season gets worse every year - “The weather is warming. The flowers are blooming. Noses are running. Eyes are watering. It’s allergy season yet again, and it’s already severe in states like Georgia and Tennessee. It’s shaping up to be brutal in cities like Chicago, where the frigid winter has delayed the onset. Forecasters in other parts of the country expect 2019 to be worse than usual, if not the worst year ever, for allergies. Just like 2018, the year before that, and the year before that. Allergy season has become so predictably terrible that late-night comedians have taken to venting about warnings of the “pollen tsunami” and “pollen vortex” or a “perfect storm for allergies.” But it turns out there’s truth behind the bombast: Pollen, an allergy trigger for one in five Americans, is surging year after year. And a major driver behind this increase is climate change. For instance, rising average temperatures are leading to a longer ragweed pollen season, as you can see here…” Umair Irfan reports for Vox.

From Our Readers

The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.

Job Openings:

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.

April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is  "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here,   and website here.

April 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida.  Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.

April 20 - 6:30 PM - Film screening of “Woman at War” - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc, in partnership with Pensacola Cinema Art, for a viewing of “Woman at War”. This is a foreign Indie film based in Iceland that conveys a global message relatable to all Earth Warriors. “Woman at War is confronting some of the heaviest dilemmas of our time (e.g. how do we bring new life into a broken world).” Although fantastical, the climate change theme and how we deal with these issues is prominently displayed throughout the film.Join us at Studer Community Institute, 220 W. Garden Street (former Sun Trust building), Pensacola, FL. You must RSVP through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woman-at-war-movie-viewing-tickets-58810076522 in order to reserve your seating. Seating is limited to 30 spots. Tickets, to paid at the door, are $7 and includes free popcorn, wine or water, and light refreshments. There is free off-street parking for attendees. Contact Mary at earthethicsaction@gmail.com for more information.

April 27 - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM - The Water Festival - (Deland) - The Volusia Water Alliance invites one and all to a street party celebrating water with a day of fun activities and performances in historic downtown DeLand. The festival will feature live mermaids, sidewalk chalk artists, dance and musical performances, a Blessing of the Waters (a Native American tradition), children’s games and activities, a Dog Zone, educational displays, and vendor booths. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Admission is FREE. A few sponsorships and vendor spaces are still available. (West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720) 

April 27 - 12:00pm - The League of Women Voters Broward County Annual Luncheon featuring former Governor Bob Graham - (Margate) - Members and non-members alike are invited to join the Broward County chapter of the League of Women Voters on Saturday, April 27 at the Carolina Golf Club (3011 Rock Island Road, Margate, FL). Keynote speaker Bob Graham, former Florida Governor and US Senator, founder of the Save the Everglades movement, and a beloved figure in Florida politics, will speak about how and why we should participate in our democracy today. Reserve your tickets by April 19 by visiting this link: Order tickets here. Send questions or special needs to info@lwvbroward.org.

May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida.  You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.

June 10-14, June 24-28, 2019 - Camp Kids in the Woods at the Austin Cary Forest - (Gainesville) - Is your 6th-9th grade child looking for fun adventure this summer?  Consider Camp Kids in the Woods! Campers will conduct various field explorations led by local scientists from forestry, wildlife, and water resources. Highlights include: fishing, handling wildlife, exploring local ecosystems, a trip to a local spring, camping out one night at the Austin Cary Forest, building wildlife nesting boxes, and participating in games and scavenger hunts. After a week of fun in the forest, campers gain a better understanding and deeper appreciation of their natural world and what is required to be a good steward of the environment. Camp Kids in the Woods summer program is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. Session 1: June 10-14, 2019; Session 2: June 24-28, 2019. For more information and to register visit: www.campkidsinthewoods.org , or contact the Camp Director, Molly Disabb at kidsinthewoods@ifas.ufl.edu

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.


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