FCC News Brief - April 16, 2019

Quote of the Day: “We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.” - Barbara Ward

Read Bills to cut water pollution from sludge moving in Florida Legislature - “Legislation to control use of partly treated sewer sludge on farmland – which has been blamed for algae problems at the start of the St. Johns River – is advancing in Florida’s Legislature. A Senate subcommittee signed off this week on a bill that bans spreading sludge on land where it would get into the water table, and requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to write rules for safe use elsewhere...Commissioners in Indian River County, which Senator Mayfield represents, put a temporary moratorium on sludge use in their country last year after thick green algae covered parts of Blue Cypress Lake, the headwaters of the St. Johns that the state normally considers clean enough to drink untreated...St. Johns advocates would have liked to simply copy the protections around Okeechobee, but worried doing so could have sparked fierce resistance from lawmakers, said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman. Instead, bills in both chambers of the Legislature emphasize acting on recommendations of a state technical committee that met from September to January. The bills would not affect the most completely treated type of sludge, called Class AA, which is sold as fertilizer. Besides barring use of biosolids in areas where they can mix with the water table, the bills require the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to begin setting rules by Aug. 1 so biosolids can be used outside the water table in ways that prevent harm to water quality. The new rules are supposed to include steps for using site-specific information like soil characteristics and nearness to creeks or ponds; set standards for use in low-, medium- and high-risk sites; and site-specific rates that soil and specific plants can absorb nutrients…” Steve Patterson reports for Jacksonville.com

Read Saving Florida’s springs isn’t possible unless agriculture changes its ways - “Too often, the debate over water quality problems and solutions in Florida is fueled by emotions and not facts. Sometimes clean-water advocates are accused of demonizing industries and exaggerating the severity of the water pollution problem while advocates for development and agriculture are sometimes labeled as destroyers of the environment. I hope to temper that debate with facts about the state-designated Outstanding Florida Springs. In June 2018, the state Department of Environmental Protection completed 13 water quality restoration plans, known as Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), covering 24 impaired Outstanding Florida Springs. Although many of these plans fail to meet the intent of meeting water-quality goals by reducing nutrients, the plans provide many important facts about the sources of water pollution and the effectiveness of existing projects and strategies for reducing pollution in each springshed. From the BMAPs, we learn that nutrient pollution from agricultural operations — primarily farm fertilizer and livestock waste — is by far the largest source of nitrogen in springs, accounting for more than twice as much nitrogen pollution as wastewater treatment plants, septic tanks, urban fertilizer and sports grass fertilizer combined...It is a fact that, for many of Florida’s most important and loved springs, it is not possible to have widespread conventional agricultural operations and clean water at the same time. We need advanced best management practices to achieve water quality goals. If the agriculture commission refuses to act, our Legislature and governor must pass and sign legislation requiring the implementation of these advanced practices. Already this year, a provision requiring advanced best management practices was included in state Sen. Debbie Mayfield’s “Clean Waterways Act,” but it was removed at the behest of lobbyists for large landowners (yes, that’s a fact). It is not too late to restore language in SB 1758 requiring advanced best management practices and save our springs. Our leaders just need the political will to do it, which is also a fact…” Burt Eno writes Guest Column for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Land conservation funding leaving advocates disappointed- again- “Efforts to get more funding for land conservation is stalling as the legislative session is winding down. It is the latest setback for advocates since voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment funding land conservation. The latest Senate budget allocates $45 million toward land conservation, and the House budget puts $20 million toward public lands. Aliki Moncrief of Florida Conservation Voters says the funding consistently has been less than what was envisioned under the amendment approved in 2014. “Lawmakers, leadership in particular, they do not like it when citizens put their foot down and say, here’s what we want. You work for us. Go forth, and implement our will. They really don’t like it, and so on Florida Forever I think that’s part of what we’re seeing.” Gov. Ron DeSantis had called for $100 million, and Central Florida Sen. Linda Stewart was pushing a bill that would have created a $100 million annual allocation. Advocates want $300 million…” Amy Green reports for WMFE.

Read Disasters command huge share of state spending- “Disasters which rocked Florida last year are now complicating efforts to finalize a new state spending plan, with Hurricane Michael recovery and work to ease toxic water outbreaks commanding a huge share of the $90-billion budget. As a result, money for schools is tight. Some hospitals are facing cuts. And even the tax-break package the Republican majority traditionally touts has been downsized to make money available for environmental work across the state and rebuild the devastated eastern Panhandle. But with some $2.5 billion certain to be committed to last year’s twin disasters, some still wonder, is it enough? “I think truth be told, when you look at some of our infrastructure, wastewater and storm-water problems -- as long as we have discharges of raw sewage in the tens of thousands of gallons -- we have not fully addressed the problem,” said Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast...Still, Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, said voters in her district expect more from the Legislature. Gulf residents endured months of a red tide bloom that at one point stretched from St. Petersburg to Key West, harming waters going out 20 miles offshore. Countless fish died from the foul-smelling bloom, with sea spray creating respiratory problems for people onshore. “Until we look at actual environmental protections, we’re not going to solve the problem,” Good said. “We have to get to the source of the problem, which is nutrients, runoff, sewer and septic systems and really deal with these in a thoughtful way. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to deal with these water quality issues,” she added…” John Kennedy reports for GateHouse Capital Bureau.

Read Too many toll road questions - “Florida Senate President Bill Galvano has made the construction of three major toll roads — two that would have a direct impact on Marion County and its North Florida neighbors — a priority of this legislative session, but that does not mean it is a good plan. The Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 7068 Thursday, and despite the senators voting 20-0 in support of the measure, the hearing ended with more questions than answers. Galvano wants to extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to the Georgia line, extend the Florida Turnpike (possibly through Dunnellon) to the Suncoast Parkway and build a new road from Polk County (Lakeland) to Collier County (Naples)...But first, some details, any details, are needed. For example, during Thursday’s hearing, bill sponsor Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said backers do not know how much the project will cost, where the roads will run or whether the tolls collected will be enough to pay for the highways. Lee kept dismissing worries that Tallahassee would be indifferent to local and environmental concerns, saying repeatedly the projects would be driven by the Florida Department of Transportation and local communities. Again, this is a priority of the Senate president, and that is what is driving it...And the routes? Galvano & Co. say they will rely on environmental and community impact assessments in determining them. We are skeptical, at best. Look at the state’s response to community input so far. A 21-member FDOT commission made up of local officials and environmental advocates in 2015 studied ways to reduce congestion on Interstate 75. They specifically rejected building another superhighway for fear of destroying environmental gems and quality of life. To date, the only thing the FDOT has done in the wake of that report is make plans to build a new superhighway through North Florida…” Opinion from the Ocala Star Banner

Read Fertilizer ban is step in right direction- “If state government won’t protect groundwater and springs in North Florida, local officials are right to take action to prevent them from being further polluted. Last week, Alachua County commissioners banned fertilizer from being applied to lawns from July to February. Fertilizer was previously banned for just three winter months. Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance, which also requires slow-release fertilizer to be used on lawns in the county from March to June. The measure takes effect Oct. 1, providing time for education efforts. “The springs are our red tide,” said Commissioner Ken Cornell, referring to the way that groundwater pollution from fertilizer contributes to algae growth in springs. Red tide blooms along Florida’s coasts and blue-green algae blooms in South Florida’s waterways are getting far more attention from the Legislature this session than springs. State restoration plans for springs don’t go far enough in stopping them from being polluted and their flow reduced, leading to a legal challenge from environmental groups…” From the Gainesville Sun Editorial Board.

Read South Florida water managers take a second look at controversial sugar lease - “South Florida water managers dove into Everglades restoration in back to back meetings this week. On Wednesday, they got a crash course on the complex history of Florida's environment from three former scientists for the water management district who now work for competing interests for water in South Florida: the agricultural industry, a water utility and the environment. They also took up a controversial lease that angered Gov. Ron DeSantis and prompted him to call for the resignations of the former board at their regular monthly meeting Thursday. The lease that covers just over 16,000 acres targeted for a new Everglades reservoir is now being reviewed by new general counsel Paula Cobb, former deputy director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The reservoir is expected to help cut polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have triggered regular algae blooms during the rainy season, leaving rivers and estuaries choked with toxic blooms. At 23 feet deep, the reservoir is also expected to provide freshwater to marshes and Florida Bay damaged by decades of flood control. Terms hammered out under the previous board allow the lease to be terminated once the district signs a construction contract for the reservoir. It can also be terminated if sugar farming interferes with reservoir work. The deal infuriated the powerful Everglades Foundation, which worried the deal that extends the lease to 2027 would hold up work on the reservoir, now estimated to cost $3 billion…” Jenny Staletovich reports for WLRN.

Read The Trump administration wants offshore drilling in Florida. The majority of Floridians oppose it - “The White House is reportedly considering plans to auction off Florida’s coastal waters to search for oil and natural gas. But that may be a hard sell in the Sunshine state. Offshore drilling is deeply unpopular in Florida, among both the general public and lawmakers. Even Republicans have warned it could cost the president support in a state that less than six months ago approved a constitutional amendment banning the practice in state waters.  “If you look at public opinion polling in Florida, it doesn’t matter how far from the coast this drilling is … people just don’t like it,” Politico Climate & Energy Reporter Zack Colman said Friday on The Florida Roundup. “You can ask Republican congressmen 'Are there any conditions in which you could support offshore drilling?' And uniformly, lawmakers have told me 'No way, there’s no way I can support this.'..” Jessica Weiss reports for WJCT.

From Our Readers

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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 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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