FCC News Brief - April 19, 2019

Quote of the Day: “The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it” - Barry Commoner 

Read Jay earthquakes prompt calls for fracking ban, halt to more oil drilling - “Environmental groups are calling on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to cease issuing new oil drilling permits and to ban fracking and related processes after a series of recent earthquakes in the Jay area.  "We are very worried about these earthquakes that may be linked to oil and gas operations," Jorge Aguilar of St. Petersburg-based Food & Water Watch said at a downtown Pensacola news conference on Wednesday. Joining Aguilar were representatives of Pensacola-based Earth Action, League of Women Voters, Earth Ethics and Physicians for Social Responsibility.  The groups called on the state to fully investigate the earthquakes and work to determine whether the quakes have been triggered by nearby oil and natural gas drilling operations...According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, nine earthquakes have hit near the Florida-Alabama line in far north Escambia and Santa Rosa counties since March 6. The quakes have ranged in intensity from a magnitude 1.8 to a magnitude 2.8. Prior to the March 6 quake, the area hadn't seen a quake in 20 years…” Melissa Nelson Gabriel reports for the Pensacola News Journal.

Read Florida Forever land purchases a win for water, wildlife and Floridians - “Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet just scored two important wins on the ground for Florida’s water resources, wildlife and people. They approved two Florida Forever purchases at their April meeting – the 160-acre Bar D Ranch parcel in the Ichetucknee Trace Project in Columbia County and a 5,534-acre parcel in the Devil’s Garden Project in Hendry County. The Ichetucknee Trace’s Bar D Ranch parcel adds vital protections for the sinks and underground aquifer sources of water flowing to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. It is threatened by rock mining and development, including all the pollution that harms both the quality and quantity of waters in the Ichetucknee Springs...No matter where you are in Florida, we are facing serious water challenges and land protection is key to solving our water problems. Last year’s summer of algal blooms and red tide reminded us that there’s more work to be done, and we cannot fix our watersheds without protecting and acquiring key lands. Good job to the Department of Environmental Protection for brokering these great deals and securing these acres for future generations. Now, we need the Florida Legislature to fund Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program so that we continue to have the ability to protect the places needed to recharge our aquifers and filter pollution from our water. This is a simple equation we cannot afford to get wrong…” John Elting writes Opinion for the News-Press.

Read Fla. Senate poised to back move of law enforcement officers from FWC to DEP - “A shift of 19 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers to the Department of Environmental Protection, a change sought by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was teed up Wednesday by the Senate for a final vote. The move (HB 5401) is part of a reorganization that was outlined among environmental proposals by DeSantis in a Jan. 10 executive order. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on the bill. The House voted 112-0 to support the move on April 4. Besides moving the officers, the bill would create the Division of Law Enforcement within the Department of Environmental Protection and require the commission and the department to detail their respective responsibilities regarding investigations and the handling oil spills, hazardous spills and natural disasters. The commission will continue to patrol state-owned lands managed by the Department of Environmental Protection…” From the News Service of Florida.

Read Hepatitis A outbreak: Is there a link to biosolids that farms spread to fertilize fields? - “There's no connection between hepatitis A and farms fertilizing fields with human waste, or sewage sludge called biosolids, state officials say. But a former Florida Department of Environmental Protection official isn't so sure, considering: The virus is spread by food or water contaminated by just a trace amount of fecal matter, farms spread hundreds of thousands of tons of partially treated sewage each year, the center of the state has the highest concentrations of two things: biosolids use and hepatitis A cases reported this year. "It certainly looks like a possible correlation," said Gary Roderick, an environmental consultant and former DEP administrator. "What I have read so far is, no one seems to have a clue about the origins of the hepatitis A; so is this something that should be explored."...Class B biosolids are sewage sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants that's been partially treated but still contains pathogens and heavy metals. The treatment process includes chlorination, which kills hepatitis A. Plants typically treat sewage with chlorine "for 10 to 15 minutes," Roderick said. "That kills some of the bacteria and viruses in the sludge, but it doesn't kill them all." Roderick was a former Martin County environmental administrator and water-quality office chief as well as the Florida Institute of Technology's seawater analysis lab director. The hepatitis A virus was found in biosolids spread on farmland, Widder said, citing a 2017 report to the Virginia General Assembly and governor that classified the findings as "rarely," meaning  in up to 25% of samples. Class B biosolids contain 352 pollutants, 61 of which are designated as "acutely hazardous, hazardous or priority pollutants," including pharmaceuticals and steroids, according to a report released in November by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general…” Tyler Treadway reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Florida must conserve its water and fight pollution - April is Water Conservation Month in Florida, intended to heighten public awareness about the variety of ways we all can reduce our water use and preserve this critical resource for future generations of Floridians and visitors. Counties and cities across our 18-county region are adopting Water Conservation Month proclamations to show their commitment to protecting our water resources...We have made strides in water conservation! For example, from 1995 to 2017 water use in our district decreased by 13 percent, largely due to water conservation, while the population increased by 44 percent. Water conservation cost-share investment by the district in the last four years for agriculture and public supply tops $14 million and has resulted in water savings of more than 12 million gallons per day. However, as our population continues to grow the need to protect our water supply grows as well. About half of the residential water used is for outdoor irrigation and year-round watering restrictions help ensure efficient use of water. Be smart and turn off the “automatic” sprinklers. Water according to the current seasonal watering restrictions and only if it hasn’t rained…” Ann Shortelle writes Opinion for the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Read EPA won’t regulate pollution that moves through groundwater - “EPA won't regulate any pollution to surface waters that passes through groundwater. The Clean Water Act regulates pollution to surface water and requires permits for so-called point-source discharges to them. But questions have remained about whether the law regulates any pollution that ends up in surface waters, or only direct discharges. EPA now says it's the latter. "The agency concludes that the best, if not the only, reading of the Clean Water Act is that Congress intentionally chose to exclude all releases of pollutants to groundwater from the [point source] program, even where pollutants are conveyed to jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater," the agency wrote in an interpretive statement posted online last night. If pollution travels through groundwater, EPA says, it "breaks the causal chain" between a source of pollution and surface waters. That could affect regulation of pollution from a variety of sources, including seepage from coal ash and manure management ponds, sewage collection systems, septic system discharges, and accidental spills and releases… Environmental groups acknowledge that the landmark environmental law does not regulate groundwater itself but say that's not the same as allowing pollution to reach surface water if it travels through groundwater. They have argued in favor of regulating surface water pollution when it can be directly traced back to a point source, regardless of whether it first traveled through groundwater. That's what happened in the Maui case, where environmentalists sued the county alleging a link between municipal wastewater injection wells and pollution that seeped through groundwater into the Pacific Ocean (Greenwire, Feb. 19)...” Ariel Wittenberg and Ellen M. Gilmer report for E & E News.

Read Invasive bloodsucking worms are now killing Central Florida snakes - “Parasitic bloodsucking worms found in Burmese pythons invading the Everglades are making their way up north and killing native snakes in Central Florida, a new study shows. State wildlife officials already knew that the pythons, responsible for decimating the Everglades' animal populations by eating pretty much everything, were spreading the deadly pentastome parasites to native snake species in South Florida. But researchers at Stetson University in DeLand were alarmed last August after they found a venomous pygmy rattlesnake with the parasitic worms crawling out of its mouth, according to a news release. Stetson faculty and student dissected three dead pygmy snakes found in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLeon Springs. They found the parasites living in the snakes' lungs and trachea, which is where they usually reside after reptiles eat them along with contaminated prey, the release says. These parasites had never been found in pygmy snakes before, but now, Stetson researchers were finding them more than 100 miles away from their python origins in South Florida. "Our research shows that the parasites are moving north rapidly along the peninsula and appear to have some major health effects on pygmy rattlesnakes," said Terence Farrell, a Stetson biology professor who is the study's senior research author, in a statement…” Monivette Cordeiro writes for Creative Loafing.

Read Florida closing in on Southeast solar supremacy - “The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has released its second annual Solar in the Southeast report, highlighting the region’s development and state standings over the last year. What stood out this year was that growth was not limited to the usual suspects, showing that the region is more dynamic as a whole than it has ever been. Part of the shrinking disparity in development has come from two of Florida’s utilities; Tampa Electric and Florida Power and Light (FPL). Specifically, FPL’s 30 x 30 plan to add almost 10 GW by 2030 is driving the momentum that is expected to allow Florida to overtake North Carolina for the region’s top spot by 2022…” Tim Sylvia reports for PV Magazine.

From Our Readers

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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 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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