Read What will happen to Florida’s supposed off-shore drilling ban with Ryan Zinke gone? - “The future of Florida's promised exemption from President Donald Trump's offshore drilling plans is more doubtful after the head of the federal department in charge of natural resources has quit. Nearly a year ago, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told Gov. Rick Scott that any new plans to expand offshore drilling wouldn't include Florida, giving the Republican an environmental victory just before he launched his Senate campaign. "Florida is obviously unique," Zinke said alongside Scott at a hastily assembled January news conference in a Tallahassee airport. "For Floridians, we are not drilling off the coast of Florida, and clearly the governor has expressed that it's important."...The Trump administration has yet to unveil a long-anticipated proposal to expand offshore drilling along the east coast, including the Gulf of Mexico, and off of California and Alaska. A framework was expected by the end of the year, but the U.S. Department of the Interior wouldn't say Tuesday whether Zinke's departure alters that timeline. It means Zinke leaves without any official, written acknowledgement that what he said in January is actually department policy…” Steve Contorno reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Nonprofits launch lawsuit over Lake O releases, say feds must stop using Florida rivers ‘like a toilet’ - “Three environmental groups are suing the Feds over polluted Lake Okeechobee discharges that harm threatened species like sawfish, manatees and sea turtles. For the legal action, announced Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity, Calusa Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance are joining forces to challenge three federal agencies: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The agencies have ignored the harm Lake Okeechobee discharges down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers have done to wildlife while planning to continue to the toxic flows through 2025, the notice alleges. Groups need to file a notice of intent to sue that allows time for governmental agencies to respond. The discharges have wreaked unprecedented havoc on the rivers and their estuaries in 2018, coating waterways with toxic blue-green algae and exacerbating a lingering red tide that decimated wildlife and devastated local economies. The nonprofits oppose the Corps' plan to continue discharging toxic lakewater into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers for seven more years, as part of what's called the Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule... A decade ago, the Corps revamped its lake management plan to prioritize the integrity of its aging Herbert Hoover Dike. But instead of revising the plan within three years, as was required, the feds plan to continue the 2008 management plan without addressing the ongoing damage to water quality and wildlife.” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
Read Peace River water dispute ending with settlement between two agencies - “The Polk Water Cooperative and the Manasota Water Authority both voted Wednesday to approve a settlement agreement that would end a water war that has cost nearly $1 million. The settlement allows Manasota Regional Water Authority, which covers Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties, to move forward with a 50-year permit to withdraw the 258 million gallons a day it requested earlier this year. Manasota would be required to reduce that amount by up to 48 million gallons a day if the Polk Regional Water Cooperative issues a notice of intent to seek a permit to withdraw water from Peace River, according to the settlement. Ryan Taylor, executive director of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative, said the spat between the two sides was unfortunate. “But overall it will be best for both regions to work cooperatively for one source of water that will address our supply needs for 50 years and maybe longer,” Taylor said. Patrick Lehman, executive director of the Manasota Water Authority, said initially it appeared the dispute was heading to court. “This agreement and issuance of the permit will allow the Authority to move forward with planning another reservoir to meet the water needs of the region for future generations,” Lehman said. Polk’s Water Cooperative voted 11-0 to approve the settlement. The PRWC represents the county and 15 cities, including Lakeland...Polk hired a lawyer in the spring when it learned of Manasota’s plans to withdraw the water from Peace River. The Water Cooperative was concerned because they had future plans that involved the Peace River…” John Chambliss reports for The Ledger.
Read 2019 Outlook: Our water, land, wildlife and future - “As 2018 draws to a close, and we look to 2019, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida enters its 55th year as one of the region’s leading environmental organizations. This has been a challenging year for our natural resources, and in turn, our quality of life. Our region is at a critical crossroads regarding how we grow, and how we manage our unique land, water and wildlife for current and future generations. Right now, the Conservancy is investing in three core areas we see as critical to the future of Southwest Florida: water quality, a statewide fracking ban and smart growth planning. Poor water quality has dominated the news this year. From red tide to toxic blue green algae, our economy and quality of life have been impacted. The Conservancy will continue to work at the local, state and federal level for longterm, science-based solutions, including advocating for strengthened local fertilizer ordinances, improved statewide stormwater standards, the addition of a water quality component to the C-43 reservoir on the Caloosahatchee River and accelerated funding for existing and future Everglades Restoration projects. Related to water and water quality is fracking. One of the most significant opportunities Floridians will have in the 2019 legislative session is a potential ban on all advanced well-stimulation treatments, including hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing. These drilling techniques pose unacceptable risks and waste massive amounts of fresh water resources for a one-time industrial use. Last legislative session, such legislation did have significant bipartisan support, but didn’t cross the finish line. In 2019, we will advocate again for a ban. We are hopeful as the issue has an important new ally in governor elect Ron DeSantis, who has committed to advocating for a statewide ban beginning day one of his term…” Rob Moher writes Guest Commentary for the Bonita Springs Florida Weekly.
Read Crossing the aisle: Florida congressman help craft bipartisan bill to combat global warming pollution - “The Trump administration is thumbing its nose at international efforts to combat the pollution that causes global warming, but three Florida congressmen – all from low-lying areas where sea level rise is already impacting their constituents – are soldiering on the political battle to address climate change. The three U.S. Representatives – Boca Raton Democrat Ted Deutch, St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist and Naples Republican Francis Rooney – are part of a larger group crafting the first bipartisan-backed climate change bill announced this decade. All three share regional concern: Of the 25 American cities most vulnerable to sea-level rise, 22 are in Florida, according to research conducted by Climate Central. “If we’re going to seriously tackle this urgent issue, then we’re going to have to work together,” Deutch told the Phoenix. “We are bridging the divide between Democrats and Republicans on climate change and sending a powerful message to our colleagues and the American people that bipartisanship is possible.” Called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, the bill would place a tax on carbon pollution (which comes from sources like coal and petroleum.) It would charge energy companies $15 for each ton of carbon their products emit, with the price per ton increasing by $10 each year. Its six sponsors say it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by one-third in 10 years, and 90 percent by 2050. Proceeds from the tax would go back into the U.S. Treasury, benefitting citizens. If enacted, it be the first carbon tax measure ever passed in the U.S…” Mitch Perry reports for the Florida Phoenix.
Read Miami launches first phase of $400 million Forever Bond program - “The city of Miami announced on Tuesday more than 30 new public infrastructure projects, the initial phase of a multi-year plan to increase the supply of affordable housing, quell flooding and make other city improvements...The efforts to address sea-level rise will extend to both inland and coastal areas. Much of the money will go to installing one-way valves that prevent flood water from backing up and releasing onto streets. Alan Dodd, director of resilience and public works, has said about 300 locations need the new valves. Another main project will include the redesign of the low-lying, flood-prone Brickell Bay Drive. The area currently includes a street and a sidewalk. Jane Gilbert, Miami’s chief resilience officer, said the renovation will add green space along the street to resist flooding and make the area more of a park. Potential improvements to Jose Marti Park along the Miami River in Little Havana are also under review. “Those two will help inform how we treat our waterfront going forward,” she said, noting that coastal flooding during Hurricane Irma helped inspire the plans. Altogether, projects to address rising tides will make up $192 million of the $400 million bond issue. The city also wants to use the bond money to pursue additional funding and matching dollars for climate resilience initiatives…” Sam Turken reports for WJCT.
Read Peak Florida - “Florida’s population growth has rebounded since the recession — now back to nearly 1,000 people a day like in the ’80s, but with weakened development regulations and accelerating climate change. Our special report examines the state’s latest growth wave, and whether we can welcome newcomers without losing what makes Florida, Florida. Meet some of the state’s heritage citrus families trying to preserve Florida’s signature crop; St. Johns County residents working to save coastal wetlands and a historic island that may contain the graves of enslaved Africans; and Central Floridians hoping the region can be a model for smart growth, letting bears and other wildlife keep their homes amid cities full of ours. Finally, read about solutions to growth-related messes like water-pollution and traffic gridlock that will also help Florida prepare for the rising seas and storms ahead…” Introduction to #PeakFlorida, a special report from WUFT News and the College of Journalism and Communications.
Read Road to Nowhere? - “ The sun was setting behind the longleaf pine forest, illuminating flatwoods in full bloom. Yellow and purple flowers covered the open space between the pines towering above. Grasses with fluffy, cream-colored blooms filled the gaps between the flowers, all testament to the hard work of land managers who transformed Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area southeast of Orlando. Thirty years ago, it would have been difficult to find any flatwoods of this beauty at Split Oak. Like so much of natural Florida, the land had been wrung out by turpentine extraction and cattle grazing. Fire, a key element in maintaining longleaf pine forests in the southeast, had been suppressed. What pines were left were being choked out by oaks, indicating a transition from open forest to hammock. But in 1994, Orange and Osceola counties acquired Split Oak as a mitigation bank; a site in which developers could buy credits to offset the destruction of habitat for threatened or endangered species elsewhere...After 24 years, Split Oak Forest, mitigation site for countless construction projects throughout central Florida, has become the target of a project, itself: A highway that will run east from near the Orlando International Airport to … currently, nowhere. Plans for development east of Split Oak have already been approved. Deseret Ranches, the largest landholder in the state according to Florida Trend magazine, worked in conjunction with Osceola County on a plan to develop 133,000 acres of what is largely pastureland – an area nine times the size of Manhattan..” Christine Swanson writes for WUFT News #PeakFlorida series.
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:
January 3, 2019 – 4:00PM– Nassau County Legislative Delegation– (Yulee) – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at James Page Government Complex, (96135 Nassau Place, Yulee, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, contact Representative Cord Byrd’s legislative Assistant Katherine Woodby at Katherine.Woodby@myfloridahouse.gov.
January 14, 2019 – 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, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 – 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, 2019 – 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 submit request to appear is noon January 7, email Anna Budko, Anna.Budko@myfloridahouse.gov.
January 15, 2019 – 9:00AM-5:00PM– Lee County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Myers) – Attend the Lee County Delegation meeting at Florida Southwestern State College Nursing Building, Room AA-177 Fort Myers, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Deadline to submit request to appear is noon January 7, email email@example.com for more information.
January 15, 2019 – 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, 2019 – 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, 2019 – 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, 2019 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
January 16, 2019 – 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 17, 2019 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– St. Lucie County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Pierce) – Attend the St. Lucie County Delegation meeting at the Indian River State College – Ft. Pierce Campus Knight Center for Emerging Technologies Indian River State College (3209 Virginia Ave, Building V Fort Pierce, FL 34981). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 18, 2019 – 9:00AM-10:30AM– Okeechobee County Legislative Delegation– (Okeechobee) – Attend the Okeechobee County Delegation meeting at the Okeechobee County Government Center, Commission Chambers (304 NW 2nd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, contact Justin Morgan, email@example.com or (863) 462-5019 before January 10, 2019.
January 18, 2019 – 12:00PM-2:00PM– Highlands County Legislative Delegation– (Sebring) – Attend the Highlands County Delegation meeting at the Highlands County Government Center, Commission Chambers (600 S Commerce Ave Sebring, FL 33870). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, please contact Maura Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org or (863) 386-6000 if you have any questions before January 10, 2019.
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, 2019 – 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.
January 28, 2019 – 2:30PM-6:00PM– Orange County Legislative Delegation– (Orlando)– Attend the Orange County Delegation meeting at the Orange County Administration Center, Commission Chambers (201 South Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email LD@ocfl.net to request an appearance form.
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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Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River * Learn more about the plight of Fish Island in this WUFT News & UF College of Journalism and Communication publication.
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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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