FCC News Brief - January 31, 2019

Read DeSantis rolls out four-year water plan - “... DeSantis is asking the Legislature to spend $625 million this year on water projects, the first step toward a roughly $2.5 billion, four-year investment in tackling problems plaguing Lake Okeechobee, nearby rivers and estuaries, freshwater springs and the Everglades.  In his budget proposal to the Republican-controlled Legislature, DeSantis is calling for increases in many areas of state environmental spending. For Everglades restoration, the $360 million he is seeking boosts dollars for nearby agricultural area projects intended to reduce nutrient runoff and ease the natural flow of water south toward Florida Bay. The money also would go into reservoir projects underway that seek to store polluted water. DeSantis said he also has spoken with the Trump administration about lowering water levels in Lake Okeechobee to reduce the risk of rainy season discharges, which carry contaminants into nearby estuaries. The proposed $50 million for springs clean-up matches the state’s current level of spending...DeSantis on Tuesday also said that DEP is looking for a chief science officer, another element of his executive order. That new post is designed to coordinate scientific data, research and monitor environmental issues at the forefront of Florida. Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell said she is optimistic about what she called a “pro-water agenda.” “Water quality and quantity challenges are facing all corners of Florida, and these recommendations improve the outlook for water resources,” she said, adding, “Florida’s environment is the foundation of our economy. Getting the water right protects our future.” Lisa Rinaman, with St. Johns Riverkeeper, said she welcomed the new administration’s attention to sea level concerns. “It’s an inland issue, it’s not just a coastal issue,” Rinaman said. “We’re already seeing impacts of sea level rise in downtown Jacksonville.” John Kennedy reports for the Ocala Star Banner.

Read Manatee officials collaborate to counter climate change - “Elected and other officials representing Manatee County, Manatee’s school district, its municipalities and fire districts engaged in a discussion Tuesday with environmentalists and others about climate change and how they may jointly prepare for sea level rise. Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, said that about $400 billion of property throughout the region is at risk. So far, 27 local governments — including Manatee County and the city of Palmetto — have joined the TBRPC’s Tampa Bay Resiliency Coalition and vowed to “leverage resources” to mitigate future flooding and other conditions caused by climate change, Sullivan said...Dale White reports for the Herald-Tribune.

Read Martin County leaders hoping for legislative support for septic to sewer conversions - “The start of the 2019 Florida Legislative Session is just weeks away, and protecting our paradise from red tide and blue-green algae will be top priorities. On Tuesday, Martin County leaders will discuss their septic to sewer conversion program as well. Tom Nolin at Riverland Marina has always been supportive of finding ways to prevent Lake Okeechobee discharges, but realizes there’s another problem. "Whatever money we need to budget for cleaning up septic," said Nolin. Scientists say fecal pollution from septic tanks feeds algae blooms. Phillip Keathley with Martin County Utilities and Solid Waste is working on septic to sewer conversions. The county board may vote to put more funds in. About $4 million in legislative support would make a big difference. "If we get some legislative grants we can try to level out the assessments," said Keathley. But it’s not just conversion funding that Martin County leaders will keep an eye on. "Completing Everglades Restoration Projects and C44 projects," said Deputy County Administrator Don Donaldson. County leaders will continue to ask for legislative support every year until completing their goal of converting more than 10,000 septic tanks…” From Fox 29 WLFX

Read The environmental issue Republicans can’t ignore - “When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared on his inauguration day that water is “part and parcel of Florida’s DNA,” and vowed to fight the pollution and toxic algae that choked the state’s beaches and fresh waters last summer, his critics rolled their eyes to the Tallahassee heavens above. DeSantis had a poor environmental voting record in Congress. He’d helped found the House Freedom Caucus, which urged President Donald Trump to eliminate the Clean Water Rule and dozens of other environmental safeguards. When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared on his inauguration day that water is “part and parcel of Florida’s DNA,” and vowed to fight the pollution and toxic algae that choked the state’s beaches and fresh waters last summer, his critics rolled their eyes to the Tallahassee heavens above. DeSantis had a poor environmental voting record in Congress. He’d helped found the House Freedom Caucus, which urged President Donald Trump to eliminate the Clean Water Rule and dozens of other environmental safeguards. DeSantis’s actions reflect a broader effort by some red-state governors to confront the unifying issue of water, even though they remain quiet, if not completely silent, on the larger crisis of a warming world…” Cynthia Barnett writes for The Atlantic.

Read When environment equals economy - “Not long after Rick Scott took office as Florida’s 45th governor in January 2011, he traveled to Spain, where he was entertained lavishly by Spanish royalty. Ostensibly he was seeking to recruit Spanish and European investors who might boost Florida’s economy. One of the features of his pitch and his subsequent actions in Tallahassee was business-friendly deregulation, including deregulation of the state’s vast and complex water systems, already troubled, which slid into toxic disrepair coast to coast and from Lake Okeechobee south to Florida Bay. Why that happened is arguable. That it happened is both disastrous and inarguable. In 2019, Florida may or may not be emerging from the devastating algae poisonings last year of fresh water from Lake O east to the Atlantic and west to the Gulf of Mexico, and saltwater on both coasts. In light of that history, this week Florida Weekly asks economic development officers in several counties — Charlotte, Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties on the west, and Palm Beach County on the east — three simple questions: 1. How are water woes likely to affect the economy here in the coming year? 2. What would you have the legislature do to help the economy this year and what do you think it will do? 3. What is the single most challenging economic problem the county faces in the next five years?..” Roger Williams reports for the Fort Myers Florida-Weekly.

Read Younger Floridians shift debate on issues like the environment - “Susan MacManus notes that individuals in Generation X and younger now make up 53 percent of the Sunshine State’s registered voters. With 69 percent of Florida voters saying that government leaders are not doing enough to protect the environment, it’s no wonder Gov. Ron DeSantis has put the issue at the center of his administration. That was one of the points University of South Florida political science professor emeritus Susan MacManus made Tuesday during a speech to the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County. MacManus highlighted 2018 exit polling data that shows more than two-thirds of Florida voters want to see stronger action on environmental protection. The polling data helps explain “why the governor came on strong with the environmental message that he did,” MacManus told the audience at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota...The environmental concerns voiced by voters have been driven, to some degree, by the big problems Florida faced over the last year with toxic algae blooms, including red tide. But MacManus said younger voters also tend to be more environmentally aware and are a rising force in Florida politics. The millennial generation and younger age cohorts often are referred to as America’s “environmental generations,” MacManus said. They are demanding more action to protect the planet. MacManus noted that individuals in Generation X and younger now make up 53 percent of Florida’s registered voters and are starting to drive the discussion on key issues such as the environment…” Zac Anderson reports for the Herald Tribune.


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February 2 - 8:00 AM - 2nd Annual Conference: “Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future” - (Vero Beach) - Join the Pelican Island Audubon for their 2nd Annual conference to learn how to enhance your yard with native plants and protect our waterways from lawn and roadway run-off. Conference will include a variety of expert speakers, nurseries with native plants for purchase, food vendors, and demonstrations of native plant landscaping. Visit the event website here for more information and a schedule of events. Registration $10 in advance, $15 at the door. (Indian River County Fairgrounds, 7955 58th Street, Vero Beach FL 32967)

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 5 - 6:00 PM - Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for Florida and America - (Sebring) - Join water author Cynthia Barnett at Highlands Hammock State Park for her program Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for Florida and America. For the first time since the vaunted environmental laws of the early 1970s, Florida's children are not inheriting water as clean and abundant as their parents enjoyed. Barnett, author of the water books Mirage, Blue Revolution and Rain, will talk about the need for a new water ethic: Coming together to use less, pollute less and live with water today in ways that don't jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, ecosystems and businesses tomorrow. Sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park. Mingle and book sale at 6 p.m., the formal program will begin at 7 p.m.

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 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) 

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