FCC News Brief - January 24, 2019

Read Springs plans need challenging - “If Florida is going to save its spectacular freshwater springs, state environmental regulators are going to have to step up their game and rewrite their long-term plans for restoring these unique waters. To try to force that to happen, seven local environmental groups have filed administrative challenges to the state’s much-ballyhooed Basin Management Action Plans that were mandated by the Legislature in its Springs and Aquifer Protection Act of 2016. The act identified 30 “outstanding Florida springs” that the state Department of Environmental Protection must target for conservation and restoration, largely by reducing nitrogen pollution and stemming the reduction in springs flows. Filing the challenge of the Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs BMAPs are the Silver Springs Alliance and Rainbow River Conservation Inc. All of the seven complainants are members of the Florida Springs Council, a statewide coalition of springs advocacy groups. The groups contend the DEP-drafted BMAPs have inadequate plans for clean-up of septic tanks, fail to factor in new growth, are based on poor scientific modeling and lack details about future projects to correct springs-related issues. But Springs Council Executive Director Ryan Smart was more specific: “We’re still at the point where we can solve this within a decade. It’s nitrates in, nitrates out.” Exactly. It’s about the nitrates…” From the Ocala Star Banner Editorials.

Read Everglades cleanup: Florida wants to drop federal oversight but is it ready?- “Once, Lake Okeechobee overflowed its southern bank like a tipping teacup, spreading a freshwater broth over a squishy landscape sharp with sawgrass...Under federal court oversight, Florida has had some success recreating a semblance of a pristine Everglades after decades of slash and drain policies scarred the state’s iconic river of grass and poisoned it with lethal doses of fertilizer. But the South Florida Water Management District wants to end the 1992 federal court order that requires and supervises efforts to clean polluted water before it reaches the Everglades. In November, the district’s governing board approved asking the federal court to vacate the agreement, called a consent decree, in a vote that divided board members. A hearing in U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno’s Miami courtroom is scheduled for next month. Groups that want to keep the historic legal accord that targets the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in western Palm Beach County and Everglades National Park at the tip of the peninsula include the Miccosukee Indian Tribe, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, National Parks Conservation Association, Audubon Florida and the Audubon Society of the Everglades. “I think it’s pretty clear that Everglades restoration is not complete and we think this consent decree is a necessary tool,” said Alisa Coe, an attorney representing several environmental groups. “The point is that the water they send south is supposed to be clean, so if they can’t get the water clean enough to send south, then they need more treatments rather than to change the formula.”...Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection called the water management district’s action a “unilateral decision” and is asking Moreno to allow for discussions outside the courtroom before a decision is made. U.S. Sugar believes federal oversight is no longer necessary, but is making a similar request for mediation…” Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Nikki Fried, lawmakers eye wildfire risk months after Michael - “..Fried told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday that downed trees and other debris from Hurricane Michael make wildfire prevention a priority, as “we get into a dryer season.” “If we don’t clear those fields and replant, the amount of devastation from forest fires is going to be something that we want to prevent,” Fried said, adding that “fast-tracking” cleanup is a priority. The crop suffering the most financial damage from Hurricane Michael is the state’s forestry industry. It makes up most of Michael’s agriculture toll, taking up $1.3 billion of Michael’s $1.47 billion crop impact. The looming threat of wildfires as a result of fallen trees is a tangential impact. Fried told the panel of lawmakers she’d soon release a “very robust legislative agenda which will include helping to provide our farmers and our timber industry with the disaster relief we so desperately need.”...Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Forest Service reiterated the risk of wildfires to the panel. Karels presented to the panel some forthcoming changes in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ annual budget request….As well, Karels and company are looking for $20 million to kickstart a debris removal and reforestation program, along with $547,000 for “wildfire mitigation” and a “prescribed fire and fire prevention program addressing hurricane issues.” State Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the panel, told reporters afterward Karel’s presentation will help “this committee really understand that [Michael] is legitimately catastrophic.” Danny McAuliffe reports for Florida Politics.

Read A local blueberry farmer’s perspective on climate issues- “Our daily media diet is chock full of alarming expert opinions on climate issues — a dizzying cocktail of facts, distortions, denials and affirmations. Most of this chatter hurts my head. At Duke and Stanford, however, I accepted the premise that science is no joke. Truth is, I don’t need every scientist on the planet to tell me that climate issues are a problem. I can see that for myself every day at Jubilee Blueberry Orchards. Farmers are accustomed to challenges. Global markets force us to compete with fruit grown in South and Central America, where farm crews earn less than $10 a day. Organic growers like Jubilee Orchards must combat heat, insects, weeds and plant diseases without using pesticides or herbicides. But increasingly climate issues pose our biggest challenge and the deepest risk to our fruit. Cases in point:The last two growing seasons have ushered in dramatic swings in temperature during critical periods of our fruit development. The month of February was so warm you could go swimming in North Florida, and March was bitterly cold, with nighttime temps well below freezing. This hot/cold dynamic ruins crop yields, because it prevents bees from pollinating, causes all kinds of plant diseases to flourish, and damages fruit before it has a chance to ripen…” Lawton ‘Bud’ Chiles writes Opinion for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Once leading the way in Florida, Clearwater’s plan to turn wastewater to drinking water is on hold - “Tampa Bay’s third largest city was supposed to be the first in the state to treat wastewater beyond drinking standards and inject it into the Floridan aquifer so it would make its way back into the drinking supply...Now after 10 years and an investment of $6.2 million, Clearwater has the final design and all permits needed to break ground, still ahead of any other city in the state. But higher-than-expected building and operation costs have delayed construction indefinitely, making Clearwater the first to be stalled by the expense and unfamiliar terrain of what could be the next frontier of drinking water in Florida. Just building the plant is now expected to cost nearly $7 million more than what was estimated three years ago...There are no facilities yet in Florida turning wastewater into drinking water for consumers, but about a half dozen cities have completed pilot studies or are undergoing planning. The state doesn’t yet have regulations to guide uniform permitting and construction on injecting treated wastewater into groundwater or surface water to then pull up for drinking or by pumping the treated water directly into a municipal supply without the environmental buffer step first...David Cullen, a lobbyist for the Sierra Club, said the response to booming population growth should be to scale back development, not to look for alternative water sources to sustain overpopulation that is harming natural resources. “Bringing more people to the state is not going to make the water supply problem go away,” Cullen said. “When water shortages happen, it's the ecosystem that gets the short stick. You get water guaranteed for development. It’s the environment that suffers.” Tracey McManus reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Can a $2.5bn eco-initiative save Florida’s beaches?- “Dana Young is the first woman to take the reins as CEO of official tourism marketing corporation Visit Florida, and her appointment by new governor Ron DeSantis represents a major change in both the politics and the thinking of the state’s senior figures. Republican DeSantis broke with decades of traditional party policy by announcing the $2.5b water policy reform within 48 hours of taking office, insisting his newly-signed Executive Order would protect Florida’s environment and water quality by “ensuring immediate action to combat the threats which have devastated our local economies and threatened the health of our communities.” Environmental programmes had been allowed to lapse under previous governor – and fellow Republican – Rick Scott, and became a hot-button topic last year when Florida suffered the worst outbreak of the toxic red algae in history, affecting more than 200 miles of coastline, closing some of the most popular beaches and devastating local businesses...Speaking at a press conference during the annual Visit Florida travel convention in Daytona Beach, she explained: “Our environment is our greatest source of tourism dollars, and tourism makes up a third of the state budget. The governor’s Executive Order therefore tasks Visit Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity with finding ways to improve water quality and preserve natural resources even while growing tourism.” Young’s bullish approach to environmental concerns is in stark contrast to previous state government guidelines, which had refused to acknowledge the impacts of climate change even though some areas, notably in and around Miami, are already seeing the effects of rising sea levels…” Simon and Susan Veness report for The Telegraph.

Read FPL rolls out ‘30-by-30’ solar road map- “Florida Power & Light said Wednesday that it plans to have 30 million solar panels on the grid by 2030. FPL’s initiative, dubbed “30-by-30,” will see them continue the rapid expansion of their solar portfolio over the next decade. FPL and sister company NextEra Energy Resources are already world’s largest producer of renewable energy, much of it in Florida. The company operates 18 large solar facilities, in including four new ones in the past year — enough to power tens of thousands of homes. The company has previously stated that it expects its solar plants to pass the combined output of its coal- and oil-powered plants by 2020… The company said the initiative “will capture economies of scale and promote the construction of efficient and cost-effective solar generation.” That’s helped along by NextEra’s role in bringing a solar panel manufacturing facility to Jacksonville. That deal is expected to supply NextEra with roughly 7 million solar panels over approximately four years…” Drew Wilson reports for Florida Politics.

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

January 26 - 5:00PM - 10:00PM - 2nd Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival - (Gainesville)- Join the Florida Trail Association for an outdoor screening of environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty. There will be 14 films, live music, guest speakers, exciting raffle items, beverages including a special one-night-only Florida Trail Ale (courtesy of Swamp Head Brewery), and food vendors. Folks will also have the chance to interact with organizations dedicated to supporting outdoor recreation and environmental conservation. Purchase tickets here, and visit the Facebook event page here for more information. All proceeds go to support the Florida Trail Association. Come learn about the Florida Trail and discover how you can get involved with us! (Swamphead Brewery, 3650 SW 42nd AVE, Gainesville, Florida 32608)

January 26 - 10:00AM-3:00PM - Legislative Advocacy Workshop - (Jacksonville) - Join the Northeast Florida Sierra Club for a legislative training workshop where you can learn about the process of educating legislators, what are the important environmental bills, talking points on bills - all you need to know to be effective in influencing them. Lunch will be provided. Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 2001 University Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32217. For more information, email Janet Stanko janestan@bellsouth.net.

January 26-27 -Safe Water for Walton: Operation Medicine Cabinet - (Defuniak Springs, Santa Rosa Beach, Freeport) - Protect our waterways by keeping powerful pharmaceuticals and all medicines out of our water supply. This prevents them from reaching the aquifer system underground through septic tanks and other means. Bring us your old and unused medicines FOR FREE. We’ll dispose of them anonymously. Visit Safe Water for Walton’s website here to learn more.

January 28 – 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 – 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.

February 4 - 6:00PM - Pensacola Confronts the Climate Crisis - (Pensacola) - Hotter temperatures, stronger storms and flooding, rising seas and more. Can Pensacola survive the crisis of climate change? Join 350 Pensacola as we welcome Elaine Sargent, chair of the City of Pensacola’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force, as she leads us through recommendations for how Pensacola can confront the global climate crisis. 350 Pensacola board members will join Elaine to outline plans to push Pensacola to climate action in 2019. Please join us for an interactive presentation and discussion! The presentation is part of a monthly speaker series on climate change and related issues sponsored by 350 Pensacola. For more information: 350pensacola@gmail.com. Event held at the Pensacola Public Library, 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola.

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 13 - 10AM-4PM - 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 - 12:00pm-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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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

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

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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