FCC News Brief - February 8, 2019

Read House bill to ban fracking alarms activists, who call it an industry-friendly ‘beard’ bill - “Environmentalists from the Panhandle to the Everglades cried foul Thursday over a proposed committee bill to ban fracking that came to light Wednesday night. The Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee posted a proposal that rejects a fracking definition that lawmakers have crafted during three years of debate and approved by two Senate committees in 2018. A Sierra Club spokesman called the measure “a beard,” that purports to be a ban but opens a loophole big enough to allow fracking to occur in Florida. Fracking pumps water and chemicals into the ground to fracture rocks and release oil and gas deposits. The committee bill (PCP ANRS 19-01) defines fracking as a method that injects a “high rate” of fluids into the ground. The use of the term “high rate” sent environmentalists into an organizing frenzy.  They quickly wrote a protest letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis that 50 groups signed onto by Thursday morning. DeSantis has publicly supported a ban on hydraulic fracking and the coalition of environmentalists want him to weigh in on what is shaping up to be a debate between the House and Senate…” James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Growth in Florida and how to manage it - “Growth is no stranger to Florida. The state is a magnet for snowbirds, immigrants and sun-seekers. But will too much growth crowd out what people come here for to begin with? WUSF reporter Steve Newborn hosts this episode to expand on a story he recently reported with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting about the Four Corners area.  This area of Central Florida is where Polk, Osceola, Lake and Orange Counties meet. Home to Interstate-4 and Walt Disney World, it has become a hub for development. The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition team recently chose Four Corners as the site of their latest trek, which was completed in April 2018. They wanted to highlight how growth in the area is threatening to cut off the Everglades from the rest of the state, which could pose serious challenges to water and wildlife...Carlton Ward Jr., renown nature photographer and co-founder of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, talks about those efforts.  Ward has spent the past three years studying the Florida panther, an endangered species he said will remain endangered unless the state invests in more land conservation. Paul Owens, president of the environmental group 1000 Friends of Florida and opinions writer with the Orlando Sentinel, also joins the discussion. 1000 Friends of Florida recently published its Florida 2070 Report, which maps out potential future scenarios for the state depending on how population growth, development and conservation are managed in the coming decades. 1000 Friends of Florida created the map below to show what Florida could look like in 50 years if development continues at its current pace without proper management. About half of Central Florida could be paved over by 2070 according to what the group calls the "worst-case scenario…” Stephanie Colombini and Steve Newborn report for WJCT.

Read Manatee official chosen to tackle red tide algae on Florida water policy committee - “The Florida Association of Counties announced Tuesday that Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh has been elected to serve on the organization’s Water Policy Committee. The group, comprised of 37 Florida commissioners, determines policy statements used to guide lobbying discussions during legislative sessions. Baugh, who was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2012, will “play a key role in addressing the widespread water crisis affecting Florida coastlines, lakes, springs, estuaries and river,” according to a press release...“A number of local leaders from across the state stepped forward to participate. This committee represents the diverse water needs from every water basin in the state and their commitment to their communities and willingness to address these recurring issues head on,” said Karson Turner, FAC President and Hendry County Commissioner. This year, the newly formed committee is expected to work closely with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently signed an executive order urging the state to “engage local governments” as the state works to protect Florida waters…” Ryan Calliahan reports for the Bradenton Herald.

Read A Place to Remember: Indigenous stories from the Everglades - “A century ago, the waters of the Everglades stretched from Lake Okeechobee in the north all the way to the tip of the Florida peninsula. Between those two points lay 4,000 square miles of sawgrass, a rich ecosystem home to birds, snakes, alligators and the mighty Florida panther. Hundreds of small hillocks rose just above the water, dotting the marsh. On these tree islands lived the swamp’s oldest human residents. The Indians of the Everglades spoke a language called Mikasuki. They resided in open air palmetto-thatched huts and traveled by dugout canoe. They fished, hunted for deer and alligator and grew crops on the fertile tree islands. Their society was based on clans, which children inherited from their mothers. It was a traditional life, one their people had led for hundreds of years… Last November, American Experience traveled to the Everglades to interview members of the Florida tribes. We wanted to learn about their families’ experiences in the Everglades these many years. Along the Tamiami Trail, we met up with Betty Osceola, who told us about playing in the swamp when she was a girl and how her family survived both hurricanes and American soldiers. Further north, we spoke with Carol Cypress, who told us about going to school for the first time and helping to found the world-class Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. Daniel Tommie, Carol’s former student, now works at the museum as a demonstrator. He told us about his grandfather’s stories and what it was like to grow up on the Big Cypress Reservation…” Cori Brosnahan writes for The American Experience.

Read 2,172-acre Sampala Lake landscape now protected - “Conservation Florida (CFL), a leader in statewide land conservation, announced the successful completion of its Sampala Lake land protection project in Madison County, Florida. Together, the two ranchlands that make up the project not only protect Sampala Lake, they also provide aquifer recharge benefits, support agriculture, and extend wildlife corridors. Other public benefits include habitat for wildlife, purification of surface water and the protection of a significant archeological site. Sampala Lake is a 115-acre, spring-fed lake that partially forms the headwaters of the Econfina River. It is important for flood control and sediment reduction into the river. Sampala Lake is also a refuge for many aquatic species, including large-mouth bass and panfish. Other species that use the lake, and its surrounding land, include Florida black bears, deer, coyotes, turkeys, fox squirrels, wood ducks, and various water fowl…  LeeAnn Simmons, a spokesperson for the Adams Ranch said, “The Adams Family is pleased to once again be partnering with Conservation Florida to conserve more of our agriculture land, ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity to work the land on this historic cattle ranch in North Florida.” The easements on both properties were purchased by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) with funding from the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP) at a total cost of $1.92 million. The value donated by the landowners totals $328,940. Conservation Florida worked with the Adams family throughout the RFLPP process and advocated for state funding for the project. It is currently working on 27 projects across the state totaling 178,485 acres…” From Conservation Florida press release

Read Better food choices help combat climate change- “The development of agriculture over 10,000 years ago set in motion the evolution of a civilization that brought forth exceptional advances in science and technology. Although improving the lives of billions of people around the globe, agricultural practices adopted since the 1940s have also magnified the impact humans have had on the world in ways we are only now beginning to appreciate. Some advances in agriculture, it now appears, may be undermining the continued viability of all that we have built since we first began putting seeds in the ground, nurturing them and gathering the harvest. An emerging threat to our global food supply is a measurable change in our climate. Given what we now know, we may need to reconsider the choices we make about the food we eat, how we produce it and how it gets to our dinner tables. If not, our productivity may well lead to our ultimate decline...Unless we are actual producers, farming the land to grow food, involved as wholesalers in food or commodity markets or decision-makers in the food processing industry, our sphere of influence is as a food consumer. We exert a powerful influence as consumer by our food purchases. To cut down on the carbon pollution associated with our diet, we can select products grown organically without the overabundance of fossil fuel-based fertilizers or requiring the application of pesticides by fossil fuel-burning farming equipment. Buying locally sourced products reduces the “food miles” our meals travel before they reach our tables, cutting down on the estimated 25 percent of carbon emissions generated by transporting our food from far-flung reaches of the globe…” NKwanda Jah writes Opinion for the Gainesville Sun.

Read Here comes the Green New Deal. It could dramatically alter our political debate - “Liberal Democrats have been talking about a Green New Deal for months now, and on Thursday morning, they unveiled its first iteration, a resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.). The resolution, which you can read here, isn’t a detailed piece of legislation. Instead, it’s a statement of intent, explaining the justification and goals of a massive infrastructure program to transition to a sustainable future. This is at once incredibly ambitious and politically practical, in that its advocates seem to have in their minds a long-term plan to get it accomplished. Don’t be surprised if in short order it becomes one of the defining pieces of the Democratic agenda, both in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail. Since Democrats have control of only one house of Congress, the course that Green New Deal advocates are following is to begin by articulating the need and establishing the framework of a plan. That gives Democrats something to get behind and drives a discussion, putting the issue on the agenda for the next couple of years. If they succeed, when it becomes actually possible to pass such a plan and have it signed by a Democratic president — 2021 at the earliest — the question will no longer be whether we need a Green New Deal, but what it should and shouldn’t include…” Paul Waldman writes Opinion for the Washington Post.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

February 11 - 6:00PM-7:30PM CST - “The Problem with Plastics” screening & discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Dr. Enid Sisskin Chair of the Natural Resource Committee for the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, as she discusses the “The Problem with Plastics”. The presentation is part of Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series on Monday, February 11th beginning at 6 p.m.at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. Stay up to date on the event or to RSVP at the Facebook event here. Or get your free event tickets from Eventbrite here. Light refreshments will be served.

February 13- 12:45PM-2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting - (The Villages) -Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) will host its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m., at the Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL. Our guest speaker will be Lisa Sanderson, Sumter County UF/IFAS Residential Horticulture Extension Agent II and Master Gardener Coordinator. Lisa will discuss simple home vegetable gardens. She will also describe plants that can be used to attract pollinators. Beginning gardeners and Master Gardeners are welcome to this FREE program. Questions? Email:  raivedg@gmail.com

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 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.


Help Save Our Panthers

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

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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Another Gulf is Possible

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Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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