Read Turning the Toxic Tide: Florida needs a new approach to environmental regulation - “The joke has been around for years: In Florida, is DEP an acronym for the state Department of Environmental Protection? Or “Don’t Expect Protection”? It’s easy to bash a faceless bureaucracy for problems it hasn’t solved. Unfortunately, the chief regulatory agency tasked with protecting Florida’s waters has too often invited the scorn...DEP isn’t the only agency looking after Florida’s waters. The state’s five water management districts control flooding, ensure adequate water supply and oversee construction of water quality projects, among other things. The federal government also plays a role, as a key partner in funding, regulation and water monitoring. Local governments’ fertilizer ordinances and drainage systems can help keep pollutants out of waterways. No blue-green algae bloom, red tide outbreak or other calamity can be blamed on any one individual or policy. Yet it’s inarguable that environmental regulation in Florida underwent a comprehensive overhaul in recent years — and the resulting changes moved the state in the direction of less policing of polluters, not more...As the Scott era ends and Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis takes office, Florida has a key opportunity to turn the toxic tide. DeSantis earned the backing of some environmental groups during his campaign for his promises to fight for the Everglades, ban fracking and eschew sugar industry cash, among other things. He should start at the top, choosing experts rather than politically connected allies for key environmental posts. That includes not just top jobs like DEP secretary, but also board members of the water management districts. These boards, which set policy and tax rates, should have more diverse representation — not just from business, agriculture and industry, but also fishing and boating interests; stakeholders who have a strong conservation interest in our waters…” From the USA Today Florida Network Editorial Boards.
Read Climate change, red tide, algae an environmental disaster - “The most recent generations have been spoiled with the gifts of industrialization and all the wealth and conveniences that came with it. But with this gift, our generation carries a heavy burden. For a moment, just imagine the position we’ve been put in: by the end of the century, scientists have forecasted the likelihood of countless worst-case scenarios throughout the planet from climate change and sea level rise. Before any of that happens, we will continue to see the consequences of environmental destruction unfold in real time, especially in Southwest Florida...The midterm elections just passed. This was an important opportunity to get politicians elected who cared about the environment. Now though we must continue to pressure reelected officials over the course of their terms. Cecil Pendergrass, just reelected to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, featured water quality as a prominent issue on his campaign website. He previously declared a state of emergency in order to clean up the beaches, but red tide and toxic algae is really the symptom of a larger environmental water crisis. Red tide is a natural phenomenon, but this fact is rhetorically spun for political gain. The exacerbation of red tide is undeniably human-caused. According to Dr. William Mitsch FGCU scholar of Everglades research, fertilizer and other pollutants provide a “booster shot” to the red tide, accelerating its growth. This is what led to the disastrously toxic blue-green algae and red tide explosion that occurred this year. If we don’t do something to make it better, it will get worse. If the current trends continue, we will live most of our lives in a world where such catastrophic phenomena become a persistent occurrence…”Brandon Kaiser and Tom Shlomi write for the News-Press.
Read Water managers defend lease to sugar-grower Florida Crystals - “Water managers Thursday defended the decision that allows sugarcane farming to continue on land slated for a reservoir amid criticism that late public notice given for a November vote was underhanded and “stinky.” Copies of internal emails obtained through a public records request include mid-October discussions about the eight-year lease to Florida Crystals, a draft agenda that lists the lease as an item intended for a vote and a draft press release announcing the Nov. 8 decision. But the lease wasn’t specifically included in the final agenda until about 9 p.m. the night before the meeting, leaving some environmental groups condemning the last-minute posting and inability of the public to review the terms...“A lot of the pushback you are getting is in how it was done,” said Lisa Interlandi, executive director of the Everglades Law Center during a Thursday meeting of the Water Resources Analysis Coalition. “You got caught trying to hide the ball.” District spokesman Randy Smith said the lease negotiations were ongoing for months and a discussion was expected at the November governing board meeting, but an agreement wasn’t reached until the evening before...Eva Velez, Everglades policy and coordination division director for the district, said the November vote couldn’t be delayed because work needed to be done during the dry season before winter El Niño rains begin. There is an 80 percent chance a winter El Niño will materialize, which can mean wetter and cooler weather for South Florida. “The reason for the timing is all about taking advantage of the dry season,” Velez said…” Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post.
Read Landmark protections falling for air, land, and soon water - “One after another, landmark U.S. protections for climate, air and land are in the crosshairs of the Trump administration as his agency leaders move past early fumbles and scandals to start delivering on a succession of promised environmental rollbacks. On Thursday, the Interior Department proposed easing rules on oil and gas drilling for millions of acres of range in the West. And as soon as next week, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to unveil its proposed rewrite of a major 2015 Obama rule that extended federal protections to thousands of waterways and wetlands. The broad outline of the administration water rule to emerge so far points to "an unprecedented rollback of Clean Water Act protections," said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior director of wetlands and water resources at the National Wildlife Federation. The pending water rule changes and other major rollbacks already announced give big wins to energy companies, farmers, builders and others who've fought for decades against environmental rules they see aimed at stalling or stopping projects until developers give up...The overhaul, commanded by Trump in a 2017 executive order, deals with what kinds of waterways fall under protection of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Environmental groups say more than a half-century of federal preservation of even remote, unloved and at times bone-dry creeks and wetlands has helped protect major downstream lakes and rivers from upstream pollutants, fertilizer runoffs and oil spills, helped clean up big water bodies including the Chesapeake Bay, and helped buffer humans against droughts, floods and hurricanes…” Ellen Knickmeyer reports for the Associated Press.
Read BP money on land conservation - “Why are Florida officials considering the use of oil spill money to buy conservation easements (see Dec. 2 article, “State eyes Deepwater Horizon money for land deal”)? This is exactly the kind of expense we voters expected would be paid out of the fund established by Amendment 1 in 2014. An overwhelming 75 percent of voters approved this amendment, and the documentary stamp revenue is being collected. Millions of dollars are now available to preserve conservation lands, so why isn’t it being used as voters intended? Our limited Deepwater Horizon money has many other potential uses, uses far beyond simple land preservation. Let’s not fritter it away on projects that are already well-funded. Our legislature needs to get its act together and obey the wishes of Florida’s citizens…” Bob Reid writes Letter to the Editor for the NWF Daily News
Read FWC to decide fate of tropical fish at Blue Heron dive site - “The diving and snorkeling community for years has advocated for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to stop the removal. They say the taking of the fish not only hinders the habitat, but takes away from the county’s popular tourist attraction. The underwater enthusiasts have spotted more than 400 species of fish in these waters since 1993, according to the Key Largo-based Reef Environmental Education Foundation. Many of them, such as the polka-dotted batfish, hairy blennies and longsnout seahorses, are incredibly rare to see. The FWC is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday at the commission meeting in St. Augustine. If the commission decides to move forward with new rules, they’d take a final vote in February. The new rules would ban the removal of tropical fish from under the bridge and in the Phil Foster Park area, but allow for marine life harvested elsewhere to be transported directly through the area by way of boat. FWC’s vote comes about two months after a Texas-based aquarium came to town and removed dozens of the colorful creatures to use for a breeding project. Moody Gardens removed the fish legally with an FWC-issued permit that allowed the group to take fish from St. Lucie County to Monroe County. But the group took an “unexpectedly high number,” about 60 in total, from the Blue Heron Bridge area, according to FWC…” Alexandra Seltzer reports for the Palm Beach Post.
Read Beverage companies are helping protect Florida’s beaches, waterways - “Nov. 15 was National Recycling Day, a time for Americans to remember the importance of conserving materials to protect our environment. Here in Florida, we know how vital it is to take extra care to protect our beaches and waterways, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. As a Floridian, I appreciate the beauty of these bodies of water and their importance to our economy. As vice chair of Keep Florida Beautiful, an organization that inspires, educates and empowers Floridians to improve and beautify their community environments, I'm acutely aware of the impacts of plastic waste on our environment. And in my role as the executive director of the Florida Beverage Association, a proud KFB member, I'm also part of a concerted effort with America's top beverage companies to implement permanent solutions. Florida should continue to lead in these efforts and serve as a role model for states across the country that hope to curb littering. Florida's beverage companies will continue to support these efforts. As part of our commitment to mitigating pollution, the Florida Beverage Association supports efforts to provide municipalities in Florida and across the country with the resources to collect and recycle our products. Of course, any comprehensive approach to this issue includes smarter use and disposal of manufacturing and production materials. America's beverage companies have committed to zero waste from production facilities to landfills, and have achieved a 94 percent diversion rate of the waste generated at their U.S. manufacturing and production facilities thus far. They have also saved hundreds of millions of pounds of raw materials by lightweighting their containers, removing millions of pounds of packaging materials from the market in recent years…” Liz DeWitt writes for the Tallahassee Democrat.
Read Florida cities, counties in forefront of clean energy movement - “Many cities and counties are stepping into the void because of a lack of action on climate change by the state and federal government. During a conference call Thursday hosted by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center, the CLEO Institute, Sierra Club Florida, and Florida Conservation Voters; St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice said the county's bus system will soon order four more electric buses. Their ultimate goal is to electrify the entire fleet. "It's our duty as local government officials to plan for the future sustainability of our communities, and that is what led us to make the decision to purchase zero-emission electric buses at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority," she said. Thursday night, city council members in Dunedin are poised to vote on a resolution committing the city to 100 percent renewable energy. Orlando is in the forefront of the movement. Chris Castro, Sustainability Director for the city of Orlando, says the city is investing in new solar farms. "So I've brokered a deal to procure 5.2 megawatts of solar electricity to offset 100 percent of City Hall, all 17 fire stations and the Orlando Police headquarters, completely powered by the sun, completely offsetting our consumption in the grid," he said. Castro said the entire fleet of buses that serves downtown will be switched to electric by 2025. Orlando joins Pinellas and Miami Dade, which are also looking to have fully electric bus systems…” Steve Newborn reports for WJCT.
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.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
December 10, 2018 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– Duval County Legislative Delegation – (Jacksonville) – Attend the Duval County Delegation meeting at the Jacksonville City Council Chambers (City Hall First Floor, 117 W Duval Street). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Questions may be directed to Duval Legislative Delegation office staff at 904-630-1680.
December 12, 6:00PM-8:00PM - “Evenings at the Homestead: Toxic Puzzle Film" - (Sanibel) - The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation will host "Evenings at the Homestead: Toxic Puzzle Film" on Dec. 12 at from 6 to 8 p.m. in the pavilion at the Bailey Homestead Preserve. This award-winning documentary "Toxic Puzzle," is about the hunt for a link between toxic algal blooms and ALS and Alzheimer's, and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with a panel of experts. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with refreshments available. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Eventbrite here. For more information contact the SCCF at 239-472-2329.
December 17, 2018 – 2:00PM-5:00PM– Alachua County Legislative Delegation – (Gainesville) – Attend the Alachua County Delegation meeting at Santa Fe College NW Campus (Fine Arts Hall, 3000 NW 83rd St. Gainesville, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on agenda, email Adriana Mitchell, Mitchell.firstname.lastname@example.org .
December 17, 2018 – 12:00PM-5:00PM– Volusia County Legislative Delegation– (Daytona Beach) – Attend the Volusia County Delegation meeting at Daytona Beach City Hall (301 S Ridgewood Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32114). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
December 17, 2018 – 1:00PM-2:00PM– Pasco County Legislative Delegation– (Land O’Lakes) – Attend the Pasco County Delegation meeting at the Pasco County School Board District Campus (7227 Land O'Lakes Blvd, Building #3, Land O'Lakes, FL 34638). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, email email@example.com by noon Wednesday December 12, 2018.
December 18, 2018 – 4:00PM-6:00PM– Clay County Legislative Delegation– (Green Cove Springs) – Attend the Clay County Delegation meeting at the Clay County Commission Chamber, (4th Floor, 447 Houston St., Green Cove Springs, FL 32043). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, contact Tammy Still, (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
December 18, 2018 – 1:00PM-2:00PM– Pinellas County Legislative Delegation– (Seminole) – Attend the Pinellas County Delegation meeting at the St. Petersburg College-Seminole Campus (9200 113th Street, Seminole, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
December 18, 2018 – 9:30AM-4:00PM– Broward County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Lauderdale) – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at 115 South Andrews Avenue Room 430, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, complete this Speaker Form.
January 14, 2018 – 9:00AM-11:00AM– Suwannee County Legislative Delegation– (Live Oak) – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at Live Oak City Hall (101 White Ave SE, Live Oak, FL 32064). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 14, 2018 1:00-3:00PM– Columbia County Legislative Delegation– (Lake City) – Attend the Columbia County Delegation meeting at the Florida Gateway College Administrative Building 1 Board Room (149 SE College Place, Lake City, FL, parking near Library). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at email@example.com .
January 14, 2018 4:00-6:00PM – Baker County Legislative Delegation– (Macclenny) – Attend the Baker County Delegation meeting at the Macclenny City Hall, Commission Room (118 E Macclenny Ave, Macclenny FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at firstname.lastname@example.org .
January 15, 2018 – 9:00AM– Martin County Legislative Delegation– (Stuart) – Attend the Martin County Delegation meeting at Indian River State College Chastain Campus, Wolf Technology Center (2400 E Salerno Road, Stuart FL 34997). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 15, 2018 – 5:00PM-9:00PM– Brevard County Legislative Delegation– (Palm Bay City) – Attend the Brevard County Delegation meeting at Palm Bay City Council Chambers (120 Malabar Road, Palm Bay City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Deadline to appear is noon January 7, email Anna Budko, Anna.Budko@myfloridahouse.gov.
January 15, 2018 – 9:30AM-4:00PM– Broward County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Lauderdale) – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at 115 South Andrews Avenue Room 430, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, complete this Speaker Form. Topics for this meeting include the environment and growth management.
January 16, 2018 – 1:00PM– Dixie County Legislative Delegation– (Cross City) – Attend the Dixie County Delegation meeting at Dixie County Commission Chamber, County Courthouse, (214 NE Hwy 351, Cross City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 16, 2018 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– Indian River County Legislative Delegation– (Vero Beach) – Attend the Indian River County Delegation meeting at Indian River County Administration Complex, (1801 27th St, Building A, Vero Beach, FL 32960). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, a request form and corresponding materials must be delivered to Sen. Mayfield's office no later than January 9. To receive a request form, email Margaret Mitchell at Mitchell.Margaret@flsenate.gov .
January 16, 2018 10:00-11:30AM – Lafayette County Legislative Delegation– (St. Mayo) – Attend the Lafayette County Delegation meeting at County Commission Chamber, Lafayette County Courthouse (120 W Main St, Mayo, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at email@example.com .
January 16, 2018 – 4:00PM– Gilchrist County Legislative Delegation– (Trenton) – Attend the Gilchrist County Delegation meeting at County Commission Meeting Facility, (210 S. Main Street, Trenton, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 19, 2019 - 10:00am-12:00pm - Rising Sea Levels- Are we losing our coastal cities? (Deerfield) - The Deerfield Progressive Forum will host Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, for a discussion of sea level rise and its impacts on Florida. For 39 years progressives in South Florida have been enlightened by a series of weekly talks presented by nationally distinguished speakers on provocative current issues. Lively discussion follows each talk. The Deerfield Progressive Forum meets every Saturday morning from December through March from 10:00 AM-noon in Century Village, Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit their site here.
January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Preview Webinar - The 60-day 2019 Florida Legislative Session starts on March 5 and is scheduled to end on May 3 of 2019. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that may be up for consideration during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and will discuss how this could impact state and local governance and planning in Florida. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162191) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
January 28, 2018 – 2:00PM-5:00PM– Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation– (Boynton Beach– Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at Lakeside Medical Center, (39200 Hooker Highway, Belle Glade). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, complete this form and return by mail or email to Christine Shaw, Cshaw1@pbcgov.org.
March 27, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Update Webinar - This free webinar is scheduled for a little more than three weeks into the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that are being considered during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and other legislation that may surface as the session progresses. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162194). 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, Florida Environmental Health Professionals, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.
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