FCC News Brief - March 21, 2019

Read Florida Sen. Mayfield septic tank, wastewater bill amended - “Now the bill, SB 1758, would require DEP and DOH to instead form a study that looks at the possibility of doing so. If passed, the departments would have to present the findings of the study to legislators before July 1, 2020. The amended bill unanimously passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Wednesday. Another proposed provision that would have strengthened environmental regulations in areas surrounding springs was also eliminated as part of the amended bill. Florida springs have had increased algae, caused by pollution from agriculture, leaky septic tanks and sewage systems and fertilizer. Several advocates for springs and rivers from North Central Florida opposed the changes to the bill, telling members of the committee about murkier waters filled with algae, and their worries that the legislature was prioritizing agricultural interests over the environment. Mayfield, R-Melbourne, said there was a miscommunication on how the springs section was supposed to be amended, and will be changed as it moves through the Senate. She promised activists and environmentalists attending the meeting that it would be correcting…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Mayfield budget plan would outspend DeSantis on water programs - “The chairwoman of a Senate budget subcommittee released a spending plan that exceeds Gov. Ron DeSantis' request for water program funding but falls short of what environmentalists want for land purchases. The 2019-20 budget proposal by Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) provides $656 million for water programs, compared to $625.2 million requested by DeSantis. The plan includes $360 million for Everglades restoration, with $107 million for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that the Legislature authorized in 2017, roughly equivalent to Everglades funding DeSantis requested. Mayfield's proposal also provides $45 million for land acquisition through the Department of Environmental Protection. Environmentalists are supporting a bill to require at least $100 million for Florida Forever, a formula for funding 10 land conservation programs. "I am absolutely not happy," Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters, said of Mayfield's recommendation. Voters in 2014 approved a water and land conservation spending ballot measure that supporters said would restore Florida Forever to the $300 million level it received prior to 2009. "We need to be seriously investing in protecting our most precious natural areas now, before the price goes up and also before people move in and develop that land," Webber said. In response to criticism of her land-buying proposal, Mayfield called her plan "a good start." DeSantis requested $100 million for land purchases through the DEP outside of the Florida Forever funding formula, which includes a conservation easements program at state agriculture department. Rep. Holly Merrill Raschein (R-Key Largo), chairwoman of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, on Tuesday recommended $20 million for land acquisition at DEP…”

Read New toll expressways would be a boondoggle, not a boon - “This week, a Florida Senate committee considered a plan it calls M-CORES to build new toll expressways through some of the precious few remaining rural parts of our state. While the stated goals behind the plan — providing new hurricane evacuation routes and creating economic opportunity in struggling communities — are reasonable, the approach is a fiscal boondoggle. The plan is to redirect more than $100 million each year from the state general revenue fund toward expressway building and then to borrow billions more. This profligate spending would construct toll roads in the Heartland (between Collier and Polk counties) and in the Big Bend region (the undeveloped coastline from Citrus County to Jefferson County)...Boosters of this expressway-building plan have also called it economic development for rural communities. But road building is not a sustainable job creation strategy. Expressways might create bedroom communities. And road construction can supply a short-term bump in employment. But expressways do not create permanent jobs. Instead, agriculture on small and medium-sized farms, eco-tourism, and the growing field of agritourism can create long-term, sustainable job growth in rural areas. Even better, these industries rely on the unique character of our rural and agricultural lands. They do not destroy it…” Thomas  Hawkins writes Special to the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Suncoast Parkway expansion bill advances - “Florida Senate President Bill Galvano's plan to extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia border is moving forward. The Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development approved an amended bill (SB 7068) Tuesday that takes the environmental effects of the idea into greater consideration...The bill also extends the Florida Turnpike from Interstate 75 to the Suncoast Parkway and creates a new Southwest-Central Florida Connector that would link Polk County to Collier County. The News Service of Florida reported in January that Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the new roads would aid rural communities: “We need to have this infrastructure, but we also need to have access to our rural communities and provide multi-purpose rights-of-ways so that prosperity can return there,” Galvano said during an appearance at an annual Associated Press pre-session gathering. But Dave Cullen with the Sierra Club of Florida disagreed. He told senators that taking traffic off of the roads that run through the smaller towns in Florida's Big Bend section from north of Tampa to Tallahassee actually hurts them. "So that could affect Crystal River, Chiefland, Cross City and Perry, and they would be cut off from the current benefits that they are receiving from the traffic that is going through their communities," he said. Cullen added that expanding these parkways would have environmental effects as well...The bill still faces challenges: as WFSU reported this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't a fan of adding toll roads, and there’s no House companion. But Galvano remains optimistic, saying he thinks Speaker Jose Oliva supports a plan for infrastructure expansion…” Mark Schreiner reports for WJCT.

Read Appeals court rejects state’s request, refuses to block Everglades oil drilling plan - “A plan to drill for oil in the Everglades again won a major legal victory Tuesday, one day after a false alarm in which an appeals court issued an ordering affirming the proposal and then withdrew it as “issued in error.” The First District Court of Appeal announced that its decision in favor of Kanter Real Estate’s drilling plan would stand, despite a request by the state of Florida, Broward County and the city of Miramar to rehear the case. The order will almost certainly not be the end of the fight over a project that has generated intense opposition in Broward County and received worldwide attention as threat to South Florida’s famous wilderness. Kanter, which owns about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, plans to drill an exploratory well about six miles west of Miramar. Although the Florida Department of Environmental Protection refused to issue a permit, the company challenged the denial and won a series of court victories…” David Fleshler reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read Airborne particles of toxic cyanobacteria can travel more than a mile inland, new FGCU study shows- “FGCU research released Friday shows airborne cyanobacteria toxins can travel more than a mile inland, raising questions about health consequences for those exposed to the region’s recent massive blue-green algae blooms last year. Air sampling devices found two blue-green algae toxins — microcystin and BAMA — at the university’s Buckingham complex, said lead scientist Mike Parsons, a professor of marine biology. Both have been linked by some scientists to grave health problems, including liver cancer and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s...The pilot study, a cooperative effort between FGCU and Yale, with help from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, initially sampled air in Cape Coral, where there was a thick bloom, and in Bonita Springs, where there wasn’t. Yet the toxins appeared in both places…” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.

Read River Task Force adopts sewage spills resolution - “The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force adopted a resolution at its meeting Feb. 28 in Lake City finding that the continuing and repetitive spills of raw sewage into the Withlacoochee River and Mud Creek by the City of Valdosta, Georgia is unacceptable and intolerable.  The resolution also requests the support of the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Suwannee River Water Management District and all other interested agencies in addressing the issue of raw sewage spills by the City of Valdosta, Georgia. Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force members are Commissioner Rick Davis of Madison County, Chair; Commissioner Beth Burnam of Hamilton County, Vice-Chair of the Task Force. Other Task Force members are Commissioner Ken Cornell, Alachua County; Commissioner Daniel Riddick, Bradford County; Commissioner Ronald Williams, Columbia County; Commissioner Gene Higginbotham, Dixie County; Commissioner Kendrick Thomas, Gilchrist County; Commissioner Anthony Adams, Lafayette County; Commissioner John Meeks, Levy County; Commissioner Don Hale, Suwannee County; Commissioner Thomas Demps, Taylor County; and Commissioner James Tallman, Union County…”  Article from the Suwannee Democrat.

Read Bill approved to notify citizens about sewage spills - “Legislation approved by a Florida House panel Tuesday would require customers to be notified by US mail each time raw or partially treated sewage is released or leaks into waterways. The written notification includes the date and size of the spill, the location of the discharge and the names and phone numbers of all elected officials who have authority over the facility responsible for the discharge. In addition, the wastewater treatment facilities that unlawfully discharge raw sewage would be fined one dollar gallon per gallon and be required to spend two dollars per gallon to repair the faulty wastewater system. Bill sponsor Randy Fine is hopeful that his legislation will get local governments to better prioritize what taxpayer dollars are spent on. He says many local elected officials are unwilling to deal with water quality issues, since fines for non-compliance are small and dealing with waste water issues is not a feel-good topic…” Xavier McKnight reports for WWSB.

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.

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 23 - 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM - Community Workshop: Speak Out Against the DeSoto Phosphate Mine - (Arcadia) - Join the Center for Biological Diversity and allies for a workshop on March 23 at the Peace River Campground, 2998 NW Hwy 70, Arcadia, FL 34266. This past July the people of DeSoto County scored a big win over Mosaic Fertilizer's proposed phosphate mine when county commissioners voted to deny the requested rezoning. The mine would have destroyed 18,000 acres of habitat and created radioactive waste that threatens our drinking water. But the fight isn't over yet. Mosaic has forced the county into a dispute-resolution process, where the county must reconsider its previous decision and enter into settlement negotiations with the company. At this workshop you'll learn more about the destructive phosphate mining industry and you will learn how to effectively voice your opposition. After completing the workshop you'll be ready to participate in the public mediation on Wednesday, April 3 at 9 a.m. RSVP HERE.

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. 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). Click here to register, see you in Tallahassee! 

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.


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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

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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.  

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