FCC News Brief - February 15, 2019

Read House and Senate on different paths to a fracking ban - “Florida lawmakers set the terms Wednesday for what may be one of the most contentious debates of the 2019 legislative session: fracking. The controversial process of injecting high-pressure liquid deep into the ground to extract oil and gas was on the agenda for both House and Senate committees. And the two chambers have different ideas about what it is and how to ban it. Environmentalists applauded the Senate proposal and scoffed at the House's. The oil and gas industry rejected both ideas offered by lawmakers. After the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee adopted a committee bill proposed by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, a group of his colleagues rushed out of the room and across the Capitol campus to see what the House would do. In the House committee meeting, Rep. Evan Jenne, D- Broward, tried to amend a proposal advanced by Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, and adopt the Senate's language.  When it became clear the move would fail one opponent quipped, “We have a farce of a fracking bill.” “The majority of the people of Florida want a fracking ban and this bill gives them that ban,” said Montford. Fracking is the injection of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture rock formations to release natural gas and oil. The House proposal includes a definition that would allow the use of the mixture of water, chemicals and gels as long as it would not be injected into the ground at a “high” volume and rate. This would exempt a process called matrix acidizing from any fracking prohibition, allowing a chemical mixture to be injected under low pressure. "We don't know all the chemicals they use, but of the ones we do know, we know are carcinogens," said Howard Kessler, a retired physician who lives in Tallahassee. A coalition of 50 environmental groups, along with the Florida League of Cities and the Association of Florida Counties told the Senate they want the technique banned regardless of the amount of liquid or velocity used…” James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Kids sue state of Florida for action on climate change. DeSantis wants suit dismissed - “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ relatively green platform and his promises to prioritize the environment have received bipartisan applause since he was sworn in. In a state where former Gov. Rick Scott banned regulators from using the phrase “climate change,” DeSantis has gotten credit for making resiliency a priority and even hiring someone to oversee efforts in the state. But the words “climate change” appear nowhere in his executive order on the environment. And while he nods to rising seas and increased flooding, he never references humans’ role in the changing landscape. Last week, DeSantis and several state agencies filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by eight young Floridians in an effort to force the state to start work on a court-ordered “Climate Recovery Plan.”...The plaintiffs, ranging from 10 to 20 years old, are represented by an Oregon-based group called Our Children’s Trust that sponsors similar suits from young people around the country. This group filed its suit last April, and substituted DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried for their predecessors after they were sworn in in January. One of the youths — a 10-year-old boy from Brevard County — lives in a home where the front yard was flooded with 18 inches of water during Hurricane Irma, according to court documents. A 12-year-old boy from Miami who signed on said his apartment floods during king tides and hurricanes, causing his family to evacuate…” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Goss says he’s optimistic about new role on water management district board - “Optimism flowed at The Hilton in Naples Wednesday as environmental groups applauded moves from Gov. Ron DeSantis and welcomed new South Florida Water Management District governing board member Chauncey Goss. "Right now I'm actually enthusiastic about what we're going to see ahead," said Goss, who is also on the Sanibel city council. "Six months ago not so much. Six months ago was really tough, particularly on Sanibel. Our economy absolutely shut down, completely. I've never seen anything like it. Our environment shut down. It was awful. But I'm seeing change." Goss spoke in front of more than 100 people at a Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce breakfast...Marisa Carrozzo with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida was the first speaker of the morning.  She said solving the water quality problems starts with cutting off the flow of excess nutrients to rivers and coastal areas. "Nutrient pollution from fertilizer, whether it be residential or agriculture runoff or leaky septic systems or inadequately treated sewage, that is the most prevalent water quality problem in our area," Carrozzo said. "It's the basis for these harmful algal blooms that we see." Carrozzo said the health impacts and economic losses are still unknown. Both red tide and blue-green algae produce toxins that are harmful, even deadly to humans and wildlife. Goss said he's been encouraging health officials in Lee County to work with Martin County to better get a grip on just how many are getting sick from these types of blooms…” Chad Gillis reports for the News-Press.

Read Florida investigating high number of manatee deaths in Everglades National Park- “Florida wildlife officials are investigating a higher than normal number of manatee deaths in Everglades National Park over the last two months, after a rare Bryde’s whale beached itself in January. Altogether nine dead manatees have been reported in park waters, but only four bodies were recovered. Two deaths were blamed on cold weather and biologists are still trying to determine how the other two died. The manatees were found in isolated areas accessible only by boat, including Mud Bay, south of the Turner River, and Rodgers River Bay. The remote location has complicated efforts to determine what killed them, Michelle Kerr, spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said in an email. “Stranding response to remote areas such as [Everglades National Park] is challenging due to [the] delay in reporting and accessibility to verify and necropsy,” she said. The deaths come after a brutal year for manatees, when a toxic red tide swept up and down the lower Gulf Coast. The tide was the largest and longest in a decade and left beaches and canals clogged with dead sea life, including manatees, dolphins, turtles and fish. The blooms were blamed for killing 144 manatees and suspected of killing another 71 last year, more than three times the number in 2017…”  Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Endangered Florida panther killed by another panther - “An endangered Florida panther appears to have been killed by another panther. It's the third death reported this year. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the remains of the 9-month-old male panther were collected Monday on private land in Hendry County. Experts say the suspected cause of death was intraspecific aggression. Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild…” From the Associated Press.

Read Stop the relentless assaults on Florida’s environment and people - “The Florida courts have cleared the path for oil drilling in the Everglades by overturning a decision by the state Department of Environmental Protection. This decision on top of our ongoing cyanobacteria environmental crisis is reckless and incomprehensible. Our coasts and rivers are repeatedly destroyed by toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which is linked to numerous deadly diseases. At times, it has been unsafe to eat local (Treasure Coast) seafood, swim in the water, or often even to breathe the air. Any role of agriculture in Florida, and the corporate welfare they receive needs to be re-evaluated. Recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis banned the use of Round-Up in Lake Okeechobee. Research indicates that glyphosate (a key ingredient in Round Up) causes cyanobacteria to grow exponentially. This ban is wise. But among the more frivolous proposals was deep-well toxic water injection into the state’s cavernous boulder zone as a solution to our ongoing crisis...It is incomprehensible how the Florida courts can allow oil drilling in addition to ongoing environmental destruction and degradation. The people of Florida must demand clean water and the restoration of the Everglades. We should also demand a return to “democracy,” and the elimination of corporate interests and corporate welfare when it comes to our water and environmental policy…” Edward Hand writes Opinion for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Clock starts on Dirty Water rule 60-day comment period - “ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will publish its proposed replacement for the Clean Water Rule in the Federal Register on Feb. 14, initiating the 60-day public comment period. Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement: “Considering the Dirty Water Rule would strip federal protections from thousands of waterways across the country, the EPA is giving Americans an astonishingly brief opportunity to speak out on the most sweeping attack on clean water in recent memory. “The health of America’s rivers, lakes, and bays depends on the streams that feed them and the wetlands that filter out dangerous toxins. Eliminating protections from these waterways would put the drinking water sources for up to 117 million Americans at risk of pollution. From the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound and the Mississippi River, this rule would jeopardize our most iconic waterways. “If enacted, the Dirty Water Rule would replace the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to more than half our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands. The Clean Water Rule had the backing of more than 1,000 scientific studies and supporting comments from more than 1 million Americans…” From Environment America press release.

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.


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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

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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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