FCC News Brief - April 15, 2019

Quote of the Day: “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.” - Aldo Leopold

Read Stop the ‘transportation corridors’ bills- “Do Florida drivers want more tollways? Do state taxpayers want to spend $10 million to $40 million per mile on more than 320 miles of roads through rural Florida when that money could be spent elsewhere? Does anyone really want to pave over land needed to keep polluted stormwater out of our aquifers and away from our shores? We all know the answer — definitely not. Then why are SB 7068 and HB 7113 (the “transportation corridors” bills) barreling their way to votes on their respective chamber floors without much opposition from our senators and representatives? It has something to do with the fact that Senate President Bill Galvano has it as a top priority. And who wants to mess with the Senate president? Well, we do, because protecting water quality and taxpayer dollars are too important to let this slide. Members of the Legislature should vote this bad bill down, but if they don’t, Gov. Ron DeSantis should veto it. Just on the face of it, authorizing the construction of three new tollways through some of the last remaining undeveloped, environmentally sensitive areas in our state is an awful idea, but the details are the proof in the pudding…” Timothy Martin writes Opinion for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Senate confirms former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt as interior secretary - “Former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday to lead the Interior Department, an agency that controls nearly half a billion acres of public land and the vast amount of oil and gas mineral resources resting beneath it. The 56-to-41 vote Thursday promoted Bernhardt from Interior’s acting secretary, a job he assumed after his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, resigned amid numerous investigations into his behavior and management of the agency. Bernhardt had served as Zinke’s deputy until his departure in December. The vote tally made Bernhardt the Interior Department’s least popular nominee for secretary in 40 years, according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning policy institute. Before Thursday, Zinke had the most votes in opposition, 31. Before President Trump’s two picks, every nominee over that time received fewer than 25 no votes, the group said....” Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post.

Read Palm Beach Aggregates aims to build C-51 Reservoir, sell water to South Florida utilities- “Debate over the proposed C-51 Reservoir comes down to this question: What's more important — providing people drinking water or keeping waterways clean and healthy? The 400-acre reservoir, which would be made from a string of rock pits west of Lion Country Safari and southeast of Lake Okeechobee, will be able to hold 4.6 billion gallons of water. At issue is where all that freshwater will come from and where it will go. Before 2006, the reservoir was an "environmental project," under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and its sole purpose was protecting the Loxahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon. But over the years, special interests — primarily municipal utilities — got it changed to a "water-supply project" to provide drinking water to growing South Florida communities, according to Everglades environmental advocates...In 2006, the C-51 Governance and Finance Work Group — representing Palm Beach and Broward municipalities, the South Florida Water Management District and local drainage districts — developed the new plan to use the reservoir for drinking water. Their plan got a big boost in 2017 when former Sen. Joe Negron's S.B. 10 — the bill that authorized the EAA Reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers — included a $30 million state loan for building the C-51 Reservoir. The legislation also called for the C-51 Reservoir to take some excess Lake O water. That infuriated environmentalists, who said the bill removed all environmental benefits for the Loxahatchee River and reduced them for the Lake Worth Lagoon by leaving less room to hold farm runoff that will continue to pollute the brackish lagoon with freshwater it doesn't need…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Ethics commission clears Ron Bergeron for powerful state water board - “The Florida Commission on Ethics gave its blessing Friday to Ron Bergeron serving on the powerful board that governs South Florida water supplies and restoration of the Everglades. Chris Anderson, the commission’s general counsel, gave an overview of a detailed staff recommendation spelling out Bergeron’s business activities and how he can avoid ethical problems while serving on the board of the South Florida Water Management District. The commission, meeting in Tallahassee, voted 8-0 to adopt an advisory opinion clearing the way for Bergeron’s appointment. Anderson said Bergeron would “have to refrain from voting on any matter or participating in any matter that would affect him and his companies….” Anthony Man reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read Rivergrass: Significant updates must be made to RLSA- “The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has said it before, and we’ll say it again. For new development, the most important smart growth principle is location, and from an environmental perspective, avoiding impacts to endangered species habitat is paramount when considering locational criteria. Due to its ecological resources, nowhere is this more important than eastern Collier County, within the 195,000-acre Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RLSA). Moreover, no projects exemplify deficiencies to this principle of location better than Rivergrass and Rural Lands West. Both are iterations of a future mega-development by Collier Enterprises on 8,000 acres, sprawling from north of Immokalee Road almost to Alligator Alley...Overall, the RLSA program’s major deficiency is location, allowing new towns and villages on important environmental lands. This is devastating for panthers and other listed species and comes at crippling costs to taxpayers, who will foot costs associated with expensive roads, mitigation and other infrastructure. Can we afford this? Considering Collier County is so underfunded for existing roads that we agreed to tax ourselves in order to catch up on backlogged road projects, this raises a serious question. The alternative? For Rivergrass, the County must review based on the RLSA’s intent of protecting habitat for listed species, including incorporation of current best available science. If this is done, Rivergrass and future phases of Town of Big Cypress will be moved to less impactful locations. After all, Collier Enterprises owns less sensitive land where development could be relocated…” Nicole Johnson writes Opinion for the News Press.

Read Lee County comp plan info session answers questions about impacts to limerock mining approval process - “Residents with questions about an proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment that could impact how Lee County addresses limerock mining proposals turned out Wednesday for an open-house style informational session held at the county's Public Works building. Over the past few months residents and some environmental groups have voiced concerns that the abolishment of Map 14 and the supply/demand portion of the county's Comprehensive Plan would affect the future of limerock mining in southeast Lee County. According to county planners, the proposed changes would not weaken the process, but streamline it by making it clearer and legally defensible. "There has been some concern through activist channels who claim there will be negative effects through the passing of these amendments. We are here to talk about what they do and don't do," said Dave Loveland, Lee County Community Development director, on Wednesday. Currently, Map 14 identifies approved limerock mining locations within the Southeast quadrant of Lee County...Florida Wildlife Federation has been involved in the protection of the wildlife and resources here in Lee County. "Taking away Map 14 eliminates the ability for the public to have a meaningful discussion with elected officials about new zoning mine issues. Without this portion of the comprehensive plan, there will be no way of publicly participating in the decision making process. It gives residents a three minute window to speak only during a zoning hearing," said Meredith Budd, Florida Wildlife Federation. According to Budd, back in 2011, Lee County, along with aid from Florida Wildlife Federation and other conservation agencies, fought to protect Map 14…” From the Fort Myers Beach Bulletin.

Read The fate of horseshoe crabs in Florida is unknown. Here’s why it should matter to you - “If you’ve ever had an injection, vaccination or surgery, you’ve benefited from the mysterious creature known as the American horseshoe crab. In the 1950s, Frederick Bank discovered that the special cells in the horseshoe crab’s blue blood prevents bacteria from invading the animal’s body. The animal’s unique copper-based blood contains a substance called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate, or LAL, which coagulates in the presence of small amounts of bacterial toxins. Because of their value to the medical field, their eggs being a major food source for fish and bird species — as well as serving as prey for sea turtles, alligators, horse conchs and sharks — there is some debate as to what those impacts are having on the population. Efforts have stepped up in recent years to try to identify spawning areas and those efforts along the Atlantic Coast are proving successful in determining population estimates that some organizations claim are on the decline while others argue is stable. Florida lags behind even though the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission launched a similar effort in 2015. “Florida is a big unknown when it comes to how the population is doing overall,” said Clair Crowley, FWC crustacean fisheries biologist. “We lack long-term data on the species, which is necessary to have when you want to examine a long lived species, such as horseshoe crabs. The development of the Florida Horseshoe Crab Watch has increased our statewide surveys of the spawning population, and we hope to have a better understanding of increases or declines in the population over the next few years…” Mark Young reports for the Bradenton Herald.

Read Lawmakers look at the power utility companies have on state energy standards - “With renewable energy being at the forefront of issues with many climate advocates, utility companies are often seen as culprits when it comes to slowing down clean energy legislation. Kevin Del Orbe reports on the power utility companies have on state energy standards. In 2016 only 1.5% of Florida’s energy came from renewables.  Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) filed a bill this legislative session that will require the state to draft a plan for 100% renewable energy by 2050. “If you’re a major utility company you play a role in this, if you’re a small business that’s experimenting in piloting solar energy in different fields and areas of the state, you are part of the solution; if your part of the industry around wind and the use of wind as an energy source, you can be part of the solution; if you’re a farmer you can be part of the solution,” said Eskamani. Her bill hasn’t gotten any committee hearings. The Orlando representative points to the influence utility companies have on legislation like hers. “Those industries have a lot of power in this chamber, and they are doing action around renewable energy. I know recently FPL has announced one of the largest solar arrays and kudos to them for playing a part in the solution, but the reality is that they really want to control the conversation.”  There are five major utility companies in the state. Florida Power and Light is the state’s largest provider serving around five million accounts. FPL Spokesperson Steven Heisman says the company is launching major projects toward renewable energy…” From WFSU News.

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

April 17 - Rally to help Gov. DeSantis keep his promise to ban ALL fracking! - (Various locations statewide) - “Since the legislative session began in Tallahassee in early March, both the House and the Senate have had numerous opportunities to amend flawed fracking bans. Rep. Raschein took an important step towards a full ban by amending her bill to improve the definition of hydraulic fracturing, but both bills still do not include matrix acidizing in their definition of fracking. It is clear now that Governor DeSantis is the key to getting these bills amended to ban ALL forms of fracking, including matrix acidizing - and we need to hold him accountable to the promise he made on the campaign trail to ban fracking.” ReThink Energy Florida has planned rallies in the following locations: Tallahassee, Old Capitol Building, 400 S Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399 (event details here), Pensacola (more details to follow), Spring Hill, Senator Simpson’s District Office, 4076 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606 (event details here), Sarasota, Unconditional Surrender “The Kiss” Statue, Island Park Drive, Sarasota, FL 34236, (event details here), Port St. Lucie, US 1 & Spanish Lakes Road, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952 , (event details here), Lake Worth, Old Lake Worth City Hall, 7 N Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth, FL 33460 (event details here), Broward, 2610 W Oakland Park Blvd, Oakland Park, FL 33311 (event details here), Hialeah (April 18-Thursday), The Leah Arts District, 1501 E 10th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33010 (event details here). If there isn’t a rally currently planned in your area and you’d like to help plan one, contact Kim at kim@rethinkenergyfl.info.

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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