Read Wasserman Schultz calls for more federal regulation after dirty Ocala water makes news - “U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorney General’s office Tuesday, requesting they establish a proper system for regulating, monitoring and notifying people of water contamination in their area. The Weston Democrat expressed her concern through a two-page letter to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, detailing the toxicity of chemicals in flame retardants — and found in the water supply of some unknowing Floridians. A Herald/Times story published last week revealed that it took four months for state health officials to notify residents in the Ocala community about potentially elevated levels of the chemicals in their well water. In August the state’s Department of Environmental Protection confirmed that the chemicals had been used at the Florida State Fire College before they were phased out of production in the early 2000s due to health concerns...The congresswoman’s letter, which outlined some of the specifics detailed in the Herald/Times story, was sent hours before Sen.-elect Rick Scott’s 4 p.m. swearing-in. In her letter, Wasserman Schultz said she was particularly troubled by the lack of clarity that came out of the governor’s office after the situation in Ocala made news, and was even more disturbed by how a former deputy health secretary and whistleblower was fired after pushing back. Residents were eventually notified on Nov. 5 — one day before the midterm elections…” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Miami Herald.
Read Fish Island drainage debate - “It was standing room only at the St. Augustine planning and zoning board meeting on Tuesday where the future of Fish Island was discussed. Many say that a proposed drainage project will adversely impact Fish Island because water will funnel from the development to the existing retention pond. Others argued why the development would be beneficial saying it could solve many of the drainage problems in that area. Many people at the meeting were wearing stickers which read "Save the Fish Island". No concrete decision arose as a result of the meeting…” From First Coast News.
Read The four Hurricane Michael disasters: storm, long-term flooding, fire threat, pine beetle - “Florida’s foresters, land managers and storm recovery crews have more than just the obvious devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael. Now, they must prepare for the potential of massive wildfires, floodplains flooding, and the prospect of devastation by pine beetles. That was part of the sobering message given Tuesday to the Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee from the state’s forester and other state experts who outlined not just the human tragedy of Hurricane Michael’s Oct. 10 blitz through the Panhandle — 45 dead, untold numbers of human lives uprooted — but the ramifications of more than 2.8 million acres of felled or damaged forests: fuel for fires, clogged waterways, and food for waves of insect pestilence. They also talked of a long, arduous, costly recovery that would never reach full recovery, and would require efforts beyond what state and federal experience and resources are prepared to define yet, let alone tackle fully...Committee Chair Bill Montford, the committee’s members and guest Sen. George Gainer, the Panama City Republican, all pledged to make recovery a top priority for the committee and the Senate. Gainer, who represents much of the most-severely impacted area, urged people to stop making comparisons between Michael and previous hurricanes’ recoveries. “Irma would not make a freckle on the ear of Michael,” Gainer said of the 2017 hurricane. “It just tore up everything; 300-year-old trees just laying there, pulled up by the root … all over the place. Not dozens of them. Thousands. That’s the kind of destruction we’re talking about.” The worst, Karels showed, was a 20-mile-wide swath through Bay and surrounding counties on into Georgia that was designated as “catastrophic,” in what he called “the heart of forestry in Florida, and really the heart of big-timber forestry in Florida...” Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics.
Read Working on Water - “Many people know the story of how Florida’s tiny fishing village of Cedar Key turned to clam farming 24 years ago after voters statewide banned the gill nets fishermen had used to ply their trade for generations. As many years as it took to train long-time fishermen for a new trade in aquaculture and grow the clams that begin as tiny seeds the size of a grain of sand, a less-visible part of the story took just as long – and offers key lessons for the rest of Florida as the state deals with a crisis of water pollution. To farm clams, the people of Cedar Key had to commit to keeping their water clean. In so doing, the town has gone farther than most in Florida, banning septic tanks outright and helping everyone from new retirees to tourists value clean water. “It’s a cultural component,” said Cedar Key Vice Mayor Sue Colson. “It’s a culture working on the water.” Located in Levy County about an hour west of Gainesville at the end of State Road 24, the island juts out into the Gulf of Mexico in a region nicknamed “The Nature Coast” for its pristine environment. The larger region, the Big Bend, is one of the most productive areas of marine shellfish in the Gulf, and flows with the second-largest area of seagrasses remaining in the eastern U.S…” Giovanna Breda Kubota writes for #PeakFlorida special report from WUFT News and the UF College of Journalism and Communications.
Read Dam burst: Deal’s aide reveals what blocked Georgia-Florida water war compromise - “Governor Nathan Deal came into office eight years ago with hopes of settling Georgia’s long-running water wars feud with neighbors. He’ll leave office in 10 days with the fight nowhere near resolved. But as lawyers from Georgia and Florida prepare to dive into five questions outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, Deal’s administration for the first time revealed how close the two sides came to a compromise that could have swept aside the costly legal battle. In the middle of Deal’s first term in office, in 2012 and 2013, the governor quietly met multiple times with his counterparts Bob Bentley in Alabama and Rick Scott in Florida. Deal had developed a rapport with Scott, Riley said, and was confident a compromise could be reached. “We had offered a great deal that would have been a tough sell in northeast Georgia – but good for the entire state,” said Riley. The mood was optimistic, he added. But Riley described the moment it fell apart: The governor was in Florida to seal the agreement when Scott looked at him and said, “Nathan, I just can’t accept the deal. I’m going to need someone in a black robe to tell me to make a deal.”... Georgia is now girding for a new court-appointed expert judge to reevaluate Florida’s legal challenge after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision kept the case alive. And congressional fights over the issue are still pending..” Greg Bluestein reports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Read Stanford water law expert discusses proposed rollback of Clean Water Act protections - “Moved to action by images of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River on fire in 1972, U.S. legislators passed the Clean Water Act to protect the country’s “navigable waters.” The Trump administration recently proposed to redefine the term so that it excludes from protection large amounts of wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways. Proponents of the change say it will bring clarity to questions around construction and agriculture permitting in wetlands and streams. Critics argue the rollback will make it harder to oversee resources critical to ecosystem health, storm protection and other valuable natural services. On Jan. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army will hold a public webcast to explain key elements of the proposal. What is the controversy around the definition of waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)? The Clean Water Act regulates a number of different types of conduct with respect to “navigable waters.” It goes on to define “navigable waters” to mean “the waters of the United States,” without providing any guidance about how to interpret that concept. This quirky drafting produced controversy from the statute’s first days. Litigation in the 1970s ultimately resulted in a definition of the term that, with a few modifications, governed the Clean Water Act’s jurisdictional footprint for about 20 years…” Rob Jordan writes for the Stanford News Service.
Read Oceanographer says farm runoff contributes to red tide in Gulf of Mexico - “A federal researcher says farm runoff from the Mississippi River is a factor in damaging algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. This year Florida saw one of its worst algae blooms on record, called a red tide. The massive event killed dolphins, sea turtles and thousands of fish, sending their carcasses onshore. Oceanographer Rick Stumpf, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says Midwestern farm runoff contributes to red tides, flowing into the Mississippi and on to the Gulf. “Somewhat higher levels of nitrogen are found in the lower salinity water which follows with the Mississippi,” Stumpf says. Added nitrogen in the Mississippi River can spark the blooms, but Stumpf says there are many other factors at play. “So that is another potential source,” he says. “It’s not the only source of nitrogen, I should emphasize that, but it is one.” The microscopic organisms thrive on nitrogen and Stumpf says nutrient runoff from farm fields in the Midwest is certainly contributing to the deadly blooms. “From one year to another, it might be a little more of factor if there’s a little stronger eastward transport,” he says. “So a huge part of this is going to be, what are the prevailing winds doing.” Stumpf says other major factors in the algae blooms include runoff from Florida farms and wastewater facilities, as well as some naturally-occurring sources…” Kate Payne writes for Iowa Public Radio.
Read Does seismic blasting harm marine life? - “When the Trump administration late last November authorized the use of seismic airgun blasting to locate untapped oil and gas reserves deep underneath the Atlantic Ocean along the Eastern Seaboard, environmental groups expressed outrage, saying that such ear-piercing surveys would harm marine life. The administration’s action, which reverses an Obama-era policy against the use of seismic surveys, is “shortsighted and dangerous,” Diane Hoskins, campaign director of Oceana, said in a statement. “Seismic air gun blasting can harm everything from tiny zooplankton and fish to dolphins and whales.” Although the National Marine Fisheries Service said it expects no marine life will be harmed by the surveys, some scientists disagree, saying that the blasts could affect the mating, communicating, and feeding patterns of marine mammals. “Marine mammals use sound to communicate, navigate, and hunt for prey,” said Jill Richardson, program director and senior lecturer in the Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “Evolutionarily, they capitalized on the effective propagation of sound underwater, but this also makes them very susceptible to noise pollution. Airgun noise can be so pervasive, spatially and temporally, that it can be debilitating…” Robert C. Jones Jr. writes for the University of Miami News.
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 14, 2019 – 6:00PM - Earth Ethics Monthly Education Series - (Pensacola) - Guest speaker Kate Peterson will present and discuss the topic of open burning and detonation of waste military munitions as it relates to human health and environmental concerns. The presentation will begin at 6:00PM at the Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden Street Pensacola, FL 32502. For more information, email email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com .
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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com 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/.
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.
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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