FCC News Brief - February 14, 2019

Read DeSantis, Scott and Rubio ask Trump for $200 million for Everglades projects - “Ever since he started his term as Florida’s most powerful leader, Gov. Ron DeSantis has held true to his stance on the environment, particularly his commitment to the Everglades. The self-titled “Teddy Roosevelt Republican” sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday, asking for $200 million to fast-track construction for Everglades restoration. The letter, co-signed by U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, asks that the president include the money in his annual budget request to fulfill “long overdue federal commitments to restore the Everglades.” “Florida’s recent struggles with harmful algal blooms have raised the stakes for accelerated progress on Everglades restoration,” the letter said. “Enhanced federal funding to complement years of historic state funding levels would fast-track design and construction [...] to divert and clean Lake Okeechobee releases and increase water deliveries to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.” DeSantis, who has made the environment a top priority, made a $625 million commitment to the environment in his annual budget proposal, representing a quarter of a $2.5 billion promise he made to spend on water quality over the next four years — a $1 billion increase from past spending...The request for federal money would specifically go toward the Central Everglades Planning Project and the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir. They would also advance construction of water storage and treatment facilities planned for the Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir and Indian River Lagoon-South projects, in order to reduce the frequency and intensity of algal blooms…” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Our last chance to save the Gulf - “In the last decade, the Gulf Coast has been slimed by the worst oil spill in U.S. history, slammed by increasingly volatile hurricanes, eroded by rising seas and hit with toxic red tide. Today, in the face of continuing natural and man-made disasters, the Gulf Coast states are embarking on the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted anywhere. This may be our last chance to get it right. We can’t afford to blow this. Federal and state officials in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama are making critical decisions that could affect which coastal communities survive, including: What will be swallowed by rising seas and sinking wetlands? Which birds and other wildlife will be around for our grandchildren to enjoy and which will not? Will the Gulf coast remains one of America’s top economic and energy powerhouses? Federal and state officials now are deciding how to divide the pot among hundreds of possible solutions and pick the ones that can best protect and benefit the people and wildlife of the Gulf Coast for generations to come. It is unlikely we will ever have an opportunity this big again. Because of limited time and resources, funding should go to the most critical, science-based, large-scale restoration projects and conservation programs. These large-scale projects are our best solutions for restoring land loss, saving communities, and ensuring a sustainable future for birds and other wildlife…” David Yarnold writes Opinion for The Hill.

Read Port Tampa Bay wants to create more land by dredging East Bay estuary - “Measured by acreage, Port Tampa Bay already is the largest seaport in Florida, with a total of 5,000 acres, about 1,000 of them zoned for industry with deep-water access. Still, as it plans for the future, the port is looking to create 67 new acres of land for its growing cargo and container operations by dredging and filling part of East Bay near the Tampa Shrimp Docks. That's because all but about 40 of those 1,000 acres are already being used, leased or spoken for. The nonprofit group Tampa Bay Waterkeeper opposes the project. "This proposal is not in the public interest," said Andrew Hayslip, the group's executive director and waterkeeper. "This proposal is in the interest of Port Tampa Bay. The economic contribution of Port Tampa Bay is noted and respected, but it pales in comparison to the economic contribution of healthy fisheries and a healthy bay." The project, called East Port, has been in the port's master plan for 2030 for several years, is estimated to cost $250 million to $300 million and could take 15 years or more to complete, Blair said. The work would create four new deep-water berths and three shallower ones. Because of its size, the new uplands would be created in phases as demand and resources allow. Port officials expect getting a permit will take about a year…."A highly altered industrial basin," said Chris Cooley, the port's director of environmental affairs. It has a mud bottom with no sea grasses, corals or hard bottom. "There’s really no natural habitat left." But the corps says the dredging could impact manatees and three different types of sea turtles, as well as smalltooth sawfish, shrimp, stone crabs, spiny lobsters, red drum and dozens of other fish species…” Richard Danielson reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it - “The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon. The 662-page measure, which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to dealmaking that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated home-state gains and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide. It’s a paradoxical win for conservation at a time when President Trump has promoted development on public lands and scaled back safeguards established by his predecessors. The measure protects 1.3 million acres as wilderness, the nation’s most stringent protection, which prohibits even roads and motorized vehicles. It permanently withdraws more than 370,000 acres of land from mining around two national parks, including Yellowstone, and permanently authorizes a program to spend offshore-drilling revenue on conservation efforts…” Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni report for the Washington Post.

Read DEP’s Noah Valenstein outlines goal to ‘do more now’ on environment- “The state’s top environmental regulator says the agency is looking to show Floridians more immediate impact of water quality projects throughout the state. Secretary Noah Valenstein of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) testified in front of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday. He said DEP’s No. 1 question is: “How can we do more now to protect the environment?” Gov. Ron DeSantis recently issued an Executive Order (EO) allocating $2.5 billion toward water quality projects over the next four years. Valenstein outlined several ways DEP would be affected by the Governor’s EO. He says the agency is now looking to show residents quicker results regarding cleanup projects which can often take decades. Valenstein explained to the Subcommittee that whenever water contamination issues arrive, the agency asks, “What is the carrying capacity for that water to remain sustainable?” That is: how much of the contaminate can be present for the water to be sustainable? The DEP then works toward meeting that sustainable level by using what’s called a Basin Management Action Plan, or BMAP. “Essentially, it’s a science-driven process that then works collaboratively with the communities to come up with a list of projects and processes to reach that goal,” he said. But Valenstein conceded that the BMAPs generally have a 20-year timeline, given the complications in fixing water quality issues. “Twenty years for a community seeing that impact is clearly too long a timeline in Florida,” he said…” Ryan Nicol reports for Florida Politics.

Read Past tense: A Florida love story - “ A bundle of letters wrapped in brown paper lay undisturbed on a screened porch in Mimi Carr’s northwest Gainesville condo. The combination of humidity and time resealed the envelopes Mimi’s mother, Marjorie Harris Carr, had saved since she was 21. The letters shed light on the challenges women scientists faced in the early 20th century. They also read like a science-laden romance novel from the Great Depression, when one of Florida’s great love stories began to unfold. In the fall of 1936, after being denied admission to the graduate program in ornithology at Cornell due to her gender, Carr — then Marjorie Harris — started a new job as the first female federal wildlife technician at the Welaka National Fish Hatchery. Through this position she met the two great loves of her life. The first was the Ocklawaha River, which Carr described as “dreamlike.” When the river was dammed three decades later during construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, she devoted the rest of her life to its preservation and restoration. Carr’s work at the fish hatchery also inspired her research on the large-mouthed black bass of Florida, which was the subject of her master’s thesis in 1942. Carr met her other true love, Archie Carr, when she traveled to the officially all-male University of Florida one evening to use the laboratory equipment in the biology department. Archie’s friend, Horton Hobbs told him about the lovely woman he saw toiling over a microscope in Science Hall with a box of sick quail from the aviary at the Welaka National Fish Hatchery…” Peggy Macdonald writes for the Gainesville Sun.

Read $378 million price tag to prevent flooding leaves Delray Beach reeling- “Delray Beach will have to pay more than $378 million to save its neighborhoods from knee-deep floods, the City Commission learned on Tuesday. Commissioners were stunned by this price tag, determined by an engineering team that said roads and seawalls will have to be raised and pipes improved to protect streets from rising waters associated with climate change. “How are we going to manage a $300 million endeavor in little tiny Delray Beach?” Mayor Shelly Petrolia asked. Delray Beach is one of many coastal cities in South Florida that are working to deal with the effects of rising oceans, waterways and groundwater. In Miami Beach, construction has already begun on elevated roads and pumps that help to dry streets after floods...South Florida counties have been meeting since 2009 to coordinate efforts through the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Still, record flooding continues to inundate neighborhoods and coastal roads every year…” Louis K. Solomon reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read How the geography of climate damage could make the politics less polarizing - “As a new Congress and the 2020 presidential election cycle gear up, much of Washington is likely to focus on topics where political polarization is high. Yet there may be surprises. Take climate change, a top priority for many Democrats. The standard story is that the high-tech “blue” states are pushing a green wave of massive investment to cut emissions of gases that cause climate change. Meanwhile, the GOP-leaning “red” states are assumed to be part of what Ron Brownstein calls a “brown blockade” of fossil-fuel producers that are drilling and burning and don’t want to stop. The upshot: Emissions divides appear to guarantee a future of climate policy gridlock, even as scientific consensus signals an emergency and new data shows the rate of planetary warming is accelerating.And yet, what if we look at the geography of climate change from a different angle? Specifically, what if we flip the frame from emissions to impacts? From that perspective, the current gridlock might not be as permanent as it now seems, as many of the jurisdictions that have selected political leaders opposed to climate policy are the most exposed to the harms of climate change….But now let’s look at the politics of climate harm. Drill down on the political geography of climate damage and it becomes clear that in much of the country Republicans are voting for people who are opposed to climate policy, even as they are most exposed to climate impacts. The disconnect between who is most exposed to climate harms and how they vote exists not only at the state level but also within Congressional districts as revealed in the 2018 election cycle. As shown in the table below Republican-voting counties and congressional districts—which are less affluent, less urban, and more likely located in hard-hit Florida and Texas—are more exposed to climate harms....” Mark Muro, David G. Victor and Jacob Whiton write for the Brookings Institute.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Communications Coordinator - Florida Sea Grant

Pinellas County Sustainability & Resiliency Coordinator

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

February 22 - 6:30PM - 9:30PM - Lectures on the Lawn: The Florida Wildlife Corridor’s ‘The Forgotten Coast’ - (Odessa) - Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources is hosting part two of a cultural event in the Lectures on the Lawn series. Join us Friday, February 22, 2019, at the newly-developed Starkey Ranch District Park for a special screening of The Florida Wildlife Corridor’s “The Forgotten Coast.”
The keynote presentation for this free event will feature Mallory Dimmitt, a seventh-generation Floridian and expedition team member, who is working to raise awareness for statewide conservation. “The Forgotten Coast” is a documentary film showcasing Florida’s wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to the northernmost part of the Florida Gulf Coast. The lawn-seating event also features live music, so bring your chairs, blankets and a picnic. For a printable flyer with complete details, including on-site food truck and local brewery offerings, click here: bit.ly/2Nb4PmC. Starkey Ranch District Park
11880 Lake Blanche Drive, Odessa, FL 33556

February 27 - 12:00PM-1:00PM - “What the Frack” - (Hialeah) - Communities across Florida have already made it clear they want fracking banned, passing 90 local measures against fracking in cities and counties that represent over 70% of the state population. It's time the Legislature stepped up and passed a statewide ban. Join Rethink Energy Florida, the Institute for Civic Engagement, YES! Club, Earth Ethics Institute and hear from knowledgeable panelists to discuss the impacts of FRACKING on our health, local economic development and communities. Miami Dade College -Hialeah Campus; 1780 West 49th Street, Hialeah FL 33012. For questions or more information contact Salome at 786-387-5111 or SaGarcia@fwwatch.org , stay updated on the event’s facebook page here.

March 2nd & 3rd - Florida SpringsFest 2019 - (Ocala) - Since 2000, Florida SpringsFest has been educating visitors about the importance of Florida’s springs. In 2019, Florida SpringsFest will be held on Saturday March 2 and Sunday March 3, at Silver Springs State Park, with the theme sustainability. This two-day event will feature everything that Silver Springs has to offer- Glass Bottom Boat tours, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals, interactive education center, ranger programs, and trails through beautiful gardens, overlooking the crystal-clear spring. In addition, SpringsFest includes environmental speakers, educational displays, artists, crafters, demonstrators, food vendors, live entertainment, a student art show, a silent auction, and more! Join us for this two-day event to learn about Florida Springs! History, science, fun, music, food, and friends- all for $2/person park admission! Glass bottom boat rides are not included with your park entry, but will be HALF-OFF all weekend! Follow the Florida Springsfest Facebook for more information!

March 11 - 6:00 PM-7:30 PM - ‘Environmental Justice: What, Why, You’ discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. in welcoming Wilma Subra, environmental scientist and advocate, guest speaker for Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series for March. Ms. Subra will discuss Environmental Justice issues in our community and across the state and nation. Subra served for seven years as vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, for six years on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and for five years on the National Advisory Committee of the US Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland. The event is being held at Ever’ man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. RSVP on Facebook here, or get your free event ticket from EventBrite here. Light refreshments will be served.

March 13 - 10:00 AM-4:00 PM - Reclaiming Florida’s Future For All: Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Energy - (Tallahassee) - Rethink Energy Florida is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee FL 32301)! We are advocating to protect Florida’s clean water, support renewable energy, and BAN Fracking! We will be talking with our legislators about these critical issues. This event is co-sponsored by Floridians Against Fracking, Sierra Club Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Food and Water Watch Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Ignite Change, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. RSVP here or check out the Facebook event for more information.

March 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here.

Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.

March 27 - 12:00 PM -1:30 PM - 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/.

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) 

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.


Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

Help Save Our Panthers

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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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