FCC News Brief - March 19, 2019

Read Debbie Mayfield, Holly Raschein champion Clean Waters Act in Tallahassee - “State Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne, and state Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, filed “the Clean Waterways Act” which, they insist, is “a comprehensive statewide initiative to address imperative infrastructure needs that are contributing to pollution in Florida’s waters.” Mayfield’s office offered some light as to why she had introduced the bill. “Approximately 40 percent of Floridians rely on onsite sewage treatment, more commonly known as septic systems, for their waste treatment. With an estimated 2.6 million systems in operation in Florida, leaky septic systems are a significant source of nitrogen and phosphorus loading into nearby waterways and largely contribute to reduced water quality,”...“DEP utilize Basin Management Action Plans (BMAP) as a blueprint for restoring impaired waters. This bill revises BMAP requirements and establishes a 50 percent matching grant program to encourage local governments to connect septic tanks to sewer systems; construct, upgrade or expand wastewater facilities; retrofit existing septic tanks for improved performance,” Mayfield’s office added. “This bill also adds the Indian River Lagoon, an estuary that covers more than one-third of Florida’s East Coast, to the list of water bodies that prohibit disposal of waste without first providing advanced treatment.” “BMAP is an excellent avenue to tackle impaired waters in our state. It provides local governments the opportunity and obligation to work with DEP, and water management districts, to come to a consensus for cleanup of our treasured waters” said Mayfield. “Restoring and protecting our water quality is imperative as it is the most valued economic and environmental asset we have in Florida.” Mayfield’s bill is scheduled to be before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday afternoon…” From Florida Daily

Read Development in Green Swamp needs better rules- “Some Lake County commissioners want to protect the environmentally critical Green Swamp. Others would rather pretend there is no problem. Commissioners voted 3-2 last week to take a first step toward temporarily stopping big developments in the giant water recharge area, but at least one of the majority, Wendy Breeden, said she did so just to be able to talk about it before deciding later whether to go forward with a moratorium. The discussion came about after Commissioner Sean Parks recently asked staff to develop an ordinance that would delay approval of subdivisions and big commercial developments in the Green Swamp for up to a year. The idea is to give the county time to examine the rules that govern growth in the fragile area in the wake of the approval of a 29-house subdivision several weeks back. Opponents of the Hilochee Partners proposal objected because the developers counted the entire property they owned, calculated the number of houses allowed, then clustered them all in one spot. Opponents said the project “misused” the county’s growth plan and the developer could have built only six houses if he had drawn lots and then built only on the ones that weren’t wetlands...The Green Swamp, which sprawls across several counties, is the main way that the Floridan Aquifer gets recharged, and the aquifer provides the water that most Floridians drink. It has long been under stress, dropping more than 10 feet in some areas and suffering saltwater intrusion in others. The “Liquid Heart of Florida,” as the swamp is sometimes called, is 560,000 acres and the headwaters of the Hillsborough, Withlacoochee, Ocklawaha and Peace rivers. It's also part of a network of wildlife corridors in the state…” Lauren Ritchie reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read State economists not opposed to energy choice ballot initiative - “The state's Financial Impact Estimating Conference declined to weigh in on the Citizens for Energy Choices political committee Friday, rejecting the argument from opponents — mainly investor-owned utilities — by saying the final implementation of a potential new system is "unknowable at this time." “Because it [energy choice] is subject to legislative implementation, the final design of the restructured system is unknowable at this time," they concluded. The conference is made up of state economists and meets under the Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The office serves as the research arm of the Legislature and, according to their website, is mainly concerned with forecasting economic and social trends that affect policy making, revenues and appropriations. The proposal, put forward by the political committee, calls for the customers’ “right to choose” and would loosen the grip of private utility monopolies like Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy and Tampa Electric Co. It would allow customers to pick their electricity providers from a competitive market or give them more options to produce solar energy themselves…” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Naples City Council to reinstate fertilizer blackout period - “The Naples City Council plans to reinstate a fertilizer blackout period two years after striking it from the city's fertilizer ordinance in a move that allowed more use of nutrients that can exacerbate red tides like the one that plagued the west coast of Florida for nearly a year. In 2017 the council passed a revised ordinance that did away with a June 1 to Sept. 30 blackout period, which had prohibited the use of nitrogen- and phosphorous-based fertilizers during rainy season. Instead, the ordinance now prohibits fertilizer application "when soils are saturated, heavy rain is likely, or during a storm or flood watch/warning." ..."We've cheapened our water quality position," Vice Mayor Gary Price, who wasn't on council when the blackout period was removed in 2017, said during Monday's council workshop. "I think we're at a point with our water quality that we have to do everything we can to improve (it.) It's not just that we'll get this half right ... at some point we have to say 50 percent isn't good enough anymore." Councilman Terry Hutchison, who also wasn't on council in 2017, agreed. "We're in a position now to make a difference," he said. While Naples repealed its blackout period, other cities throughout the state implemented one. The Marco Island City Council passed a fertilizer ordinance that included a June 1 through Sept. 30 blackout period in 2016. The ban specifically applies to fertilizers that contain nitrogen and phosphorous…” Lisa Conley reports for Naples Daily News.

Read Will Tampa Bay be under water in 100 years? Rising seas tell a frightening story - “A look at NOAA’s sea level rise map shows us the image we don’t want to see: The islands and coasts of Tampa Bay slowly fill up with water as the sea level rises foot by foot. Eventually, Treasure Island, St. Petersburg’s bayfront and parts of Tampa’s Riverwalk are all swallowed up. Florida’s geography puts it at an extreme risk for the effects of sea level rise compared to most U.S. cities. St. Petersburg and Tampa are within the top 25 cities susceptible to coastal flooding due in part to sea level rise in the next 30 years, according to a survey from the nonprofit group Climate Central. By 2050, about 91,000 people in St. Petersburg and 57,000 in Tampa will live in locations vulnerable to flooding, which will be exacerbated by climate change and rising seas, indicates Climate Central. Residents who live in those areas have at least a 1 percent annual chance of experiencing flooding, based on guidelines established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency…” Elizabeth Djinis reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Hundreds of U.S. cities are killing or scaling back their recycling programs- “According to a recent report from the New York Times, hundreds of local recycling programs in American cities and towns are collapsing. In states like Tennessee, Florida, and Pennsylvania, cities are reportedly sending newspapers, cans, and bottles to landfills, while others are burning their waste instead. As the treasurer of California put it, “We are in a crisis moment in the recycling movement right now.” The University of Georgia has estimated that China’s ban on imported recyclables will leave 111 million metric tons of trash from around the world with nowhere to go by 2030. But we don’t even need to look ahead to the next decade for consequences because they’re already happening. Tons of recycled paper and plastics are piling up across the country, and this problem has only just begun...Recycling materials also ensures that waste doesn’t go into landfills or incinerators, the EPA adds. Burning trash can be bad for the environment, according to some experts, because toxic emissions are released into the air in the process. Burning plastic, specifically, is known to release highly toxic compounds, called dioxins. Landfills are also problematic; they can leak unsafe liquids into the ground and possibly contaminate nearby water systems. The decomposition of trash in a landfill also creates the greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to climate change. But recycling is also expensive and time-consuming. It requires a tremendous amount of water and energy, in addition to money and effort to build the proper infrastructure. Due to the falling costs of oil prices, virgin plastic is actually cheaper to make than using recycled materials…” Chavie Lieber reports for Vox.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Manatee Conservation Contractor - Defenders of Wildlife

Development Coordinator - Conservation Florida

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

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:

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/.

March 30 - 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM - Earth Hour 2019 - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for a potluck, poetry and power off in recognition of Earth Hour 2019. Earth Hour is about uniting people around the global to share why nature matters and to continue raising awareness of our interconnectivity with nature. “As accelerating climate change and staggering biodiversity loss threaten our planet, Earth Hour 2018-2020 endeavors to spark never-before-had conversations on the loss of nature and the urgent need to protect it.” Join us at Pensacola Open Books Bookstore & Prison Book Project located at 1040 N Guillemard St, Pensacola, FL 32501 to share your story and vision for our future. Contact Mary at earthethicsaction@gmail.com for more information.

March 30 - 7:00 PM - Films for the Sea - (Pensacola) - Join Healthy Gulf for their Films for the Sea screenings related to the environment, surfing, and the health of our oceans. We’ll watch films that take us around the world to beautiful coastal places and the people who love them, from British Columbia and Hawaii to the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Beach. The work of local photographer and filmmaker Sean Mullins is included. Before and after the films there will be plenty of educational information on how citizens can take action to help to protect the Gulf of Mexico and local waterways. Beverages and food from Café Single Fin will be available. For much more information about Films for the sea please visit Healthy Gulf on Facebook or call 850-687-9968 or christian@healthygulf.org (Waterboyz, 380 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola).

April 4 & 5 - International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society - (Miami Gardens) - At the second International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society hosted by St. Thomas University and The Nature Conservancy, a diverse group of leaders from multiple faiths and sustainability focused organizations will gather in South Florida to discuss our changing climate, implications and solutions. The conference will explore how participants and communities of faith can take action to address climate challenges. Together, we can implement solutions that are respectful and supportive of the nature that sustains us and must sustain future generations, and preserve the environment that renews our spirits. Registration and agenda.  Moot Court, School of Law, St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL 33054    View Map - Directions. Thursday, April 4 from 9am-5pm and Friday, April 5 from 9am-12pm.

April 8 & 9 - Everglades Action Day - ( Tallahassee) - The Everglades Coalition is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301). !Join fellow advocates from all corners of the state and meet with legislators to discuss the importance of a healthy Everglades ecosystem for a clean water supply and for a strong economy. Your voice on Everglades Action Day ensures that the famed ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials! New to advocacy? No problem. Training and materials will be provided. Register to save your spot, see you in Tallahassee! Follow this link to register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T83FL2D. The Everglades Coalition will sponsor group transportation to make it easy for all to get to Tallahassee (we have an east coast and a west coast bus). We reserved a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate of $109 at the Wyndham Garden Tallahassee Capitol (hotel booking link forthcoming). We will also be offering a limited number of scholarships to cover lodging for students and other individuals. Please email info@evergladescoalition.org with any questions or concerns. 

April 8 - 6:00 PM - Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series - (Pensacola) - Join us on Monday, April 8th beginning at 6 p.m. at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden   Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for Earth Ethics April Environmental Education Series.  Earth Ethics in partnership with Earth Day Network is celebrating and supporting those who “protect our species”. This month we welcome Dorothy Kaufmann, Director at the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. Ms. Kaufmann’s Giving Wildlife A Second Chance presentation will discuss the organizations care of injured or orphaned wildlife including medical care, fostering, rehabilitate and wildlife release. Stay up to date on the event on Facebook here. Or if your not on social media, let us know you’ll be joining us by getting your free tickets at Eventbrite here.

April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.

April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is  "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here,   and website here.

April 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida.  Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.

April 20 - 6:30 PM - Film screening of “Woman at War” - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc, in partnership with Pensacola Cinema Art, for a viewing of “Woman at War”. This is a foreign Indie film based in Iceland that conveys a global message relatable to all Earth Warriors. “Woman at War is confronting some of the heaviest dilemmas of our time (e.g. how do we bring new life into a broken world).” Although fantastical, the climate change theme and how we deal with these issues is prominently displayed throughout the film.Join us at Studer Community Institute, 220 W. Garden Street (former Sun Trust building), Pensacola, FL. You must RSVP through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woman-at-war-movie-viewing-tickets-58810076522 in order to reserve your seating. Seating is limited to 30 spots. Tickets, to paid at the door, are $7 and includes free popcorn, wine or water, and light refreshments. There is free off-street parking for attendees. Contact Mary at earthethicsaction@gmail.com for more information.

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) 

May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida.  You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.

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.


Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

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

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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.  

For more information, visit https://www.wearefcc.org/

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