Read Bill redirects $50 million a year for Hurricane Michael restoration - “Legislation plowing $50 million a year of public lands money into Hurricane Michael recovery cleared the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Tuesday on a unanimous vote. The money would pay for re-forestation, ecosystem management, fire control, debris removal, pollution mitigation, coastal protection, and beach nourishment through the 2025-26 fiscal year. The vote demonstrates the Legislature’s determination to help the 14-county Michael disaster zone recover, said committee chairman Bill Montford, who sponsored the legislation (SB 376). “And the Governor, too,” Montford said, following the vote. “It shouldn’t go unnoticed that he was over three times the first two weeks he was in office. His wife has been there multiple times. There’s a commitment from President (Bill) Galvano, to making sure we address issues there, as well,” he said.He argued the recovery efforts are a worthwhile use of the money, which would come from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, financed by taxes on real estate transactions. Amendment 1, approved by the voters in 2014, directs that one-third of the trust fund go to land and water conservation and restoration, but the Legislature has tended to honor that mandate in the breach. No one nitpicked on that score during the hearing on Montford’s bill...The committee approved an amendment that would bar the use of the money for cleanup on private lands or wastewater treatment. Montford would like to help private landowners, too, “but I’m not sure we’ll get there,” he said…” Michael Moline reports for Florida Politics.
Read Sen. Debbie Mayfield wants state to change septic tank oversight, fund conversion projects - “Florida Sen. Debbie Mayfield wants the state to overhaul how they handle leaky septic tanks, from moving oversight to the tanks to the state's Department of Environmental Protection to creating a grant program for water infrastructure projects. Mayfield filed SB 1758 Friday. The bill would: Transfer the onsite sewage program of the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection, establish a wastewater grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection, revise the state's requirements for basin management action plans, require a wastewater treatment plant to notify customers of unlawful discharges of raw or partially treated sewage into any waterway or aquifer within a specified time frame...Few [septic tanks] are receiving inspections however, after legislators and former Gov. Rick Scott supported a 2012 repeal of law that required septic tank owners to have their tanks inspected every five years to make sure they aren't faulty or leaking. At the time lawmakers said it would cost homeowners too much…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read We’re figuring out how to produce more food while protecting environment - “Last year’s headlines raising alarm about red tides and blue-green algae blooms remind us that Florida is one of the great laboratories in addressing a global challenge: How do we reduce our consumption of natural resources when we keep adding people to our planet? Florida’s population grows by almost 1,000 people a day. They all need to eat. At the same time many want lawns. Some Florida residents live in homes with septic tanks, which over time may leak. Septic tank or not, they all flush toilets. They all want roofs, sidewalks, driveways and roads that funnel pollutants into local waterways. Because there are a number of suspected contributors to red tide and green algae, there must be a number of solutions. Among these solutions is figuring out how to produce food while protecting the environment that makes food production possible in the first place. That means figuring out how to grow more food with less land, fewer fertilizers, less spraying and less water...It’s folly to think there’s a silver bullet to this type of challenge — a single measure we can take to restore the health of our waterways. There have to be solutions on the farm. There also have to be solutions in your yard, at your place of work, where your kids play soccer and on the grounds of your church. That is, wherever we decide to change the natural landscape into one of our convenience, aesthetics or function. Public science will have to continue to play a major role in this progress. The marketplace alone doesn’t take care of places like the Everglades or our beaches. We as a society must decide what price we’re willing to pay to keep eating and to keep our water clean of red, green and other colors…” Jack Payne writes Opinion for the TCPalm.
Read Anna Eskamani and Jose Javier Rodriguez push for energy efficiency- “It’s not exactly “Florida’s Green New Deal” but Democratic state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani have filed bills pushing for Florida to become energy self-sufficient by 2050. Their bills, filed late last week, would call on the Florida Office of Energy within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs to consult with a wide range of agencies, universities, utilities and other entities to develop a statewide plan to generate 100 percent of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2050. The bill calls for interim goals and mandates, including a 40 percent reliance on renewable energy sources by 2030. Rodriguez’s version is Senate Bill 1762. Eskamani’s is House Bill 1291...The measure doesn’t include any language relating to job plans found in the federal “Green New Deal” proposed last month by Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a measure that has been widely derided even by other Democrats. But that’s not being ruled out. “A state plan to be 100 percent renewable by 2050 would have to integrate job creation, but if that takes shape as public jobs or private/public partnerships is something the state would decide,” Eskamani offered in a text message…” Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics
Read DeSantis revokes appointment of water board chairman John Miklos - “Gov. Ron DeSantis appears poised to bring about a new era for the water agency spanning from Orlando to Jacksonville and long criticized as controlled by development interests. Late last week, DeSantis revoked nearly 170 appointments to boards and commissions made by former Gov. Rick Scott, including three for the Palatka-based St. Johns River Water Management District board. Among those revoked for appointment to the St. Johns board was John Miklos, president of Bio-Tech Consulting, an Orlando company that secures wetlands-destruction permits on behalf of developers from the water district. Miklos issued a statement, saying he had been “planning for some time to resign or be replaced” and had expected to have left the agency by this summer. His departure date will be dictated by DeSantis’ appointment of a replacement...The reaction from environmentalists was swift and reflected pent-up frustration that the water agency had been structured by Scott to favor development interests....” Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Florida Senate highway plans start moving - “Plans for expansion and construction of three toll roads started rolling Tuesday in the Florida Senate, with the proposed projects eventually expected to require about $140 million a year in transportation funding. The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee unanimously supported the measure (SPB 7068), which is a top priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. The proposals would extend the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area north to the Georgia border, extend the Florida Turnpike west to hook up with the Suncoast Parkway and build a new transportation corridor from Polk County to Collier County...Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Lee added growth is coming and the state is getting “pretty densely populated in some of these urban areas and there may be some opportunities to create some clusters outside the traditional urban corridors of our state that produce some economic opportunities for some of these counties that have been left behind.”...David Cullen, a lobbyist for Sierra Club Florida, told the committee that growth impacts upon rural communities must be addressed. “We’re concerned about the opportunity costs of fragmenting the landscape, habitat, watershed features and the tremendous potential for sprawl,” Cullen said. “The interchanges and intermingling of the roads, with providing from the get-go water and sewer, that is a recipe for sprawl.” He added that some of the proposed benefits of the roads, such as hurricane evacuation routes or pedestrian trails and bikeways, can be done without accompanying tollways…” Jim Turner for the News Service of Florida.
Read Castor to Desantis: Make Florida a national leader in building a clean energy economy- “U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor -- recently selected to chair the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis -- knows full well the threat posed to Florida by climate change. Now she has rallied her colleagues in Congress to send a clear and vital message to our new governor, Ron DeSantis, in which she lays out the threat of climate change as well as the opportunity to create good jobs by meeting the challenge ahead. This is not an abstract conversation for Castor, a Democrat who represents Florida’s 14th congressional district. Like me, she hails from Tampa, the most vulnerable city in the country to storm surge. That’s a threat caused primarily by a storm’s winds pushing water onshore. The west coast of Florida is actually more vulnerable than the east coast in this regard. Tampa has not had a direct hit by a major storm since 1921, but a Hurricane Michael -- as the Florida Panhandle saw last year -- would cause a staggering loss of life and property. I have studies and reports detailing all this and it keeps me up at night. The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council set the potential impacts of year-round flooding on the regional economy at $162 billion. And the Union of Concerned Scientists in their recent Underwater analysis of chronic flooding found that by 2045, the Tampa Bay area could see as much as $40 million in lost revenues to local governments. The good news is that if we dramatically reduce our carbon emissions, we can avoid the worst effects. So we better get moving. We should thank Castor for taking on this vexing problem. In her seventh term as Tampa’s voice in Congress, she has a deep understanding of these issues from her years on the House Energy & Commerce committee. In the letter, Castor implores DeSantis, “We must act with urgency to reduce carbon pollution and we can do so by unleashing American ingenuity and creating clean energy jobs to power our future. We cannot delay….” Susan Glickman writes Opinion for the Palm Beach Post.
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:
March 7 - 6:00PM-8:00PM - Youth Climate Coalition Workshop - (Pensacola) - 350 Pensacola is engaging with local youth to take climate action in Pensacola. Come learn about basic climate science, the most effective actions for reducing your carbon footprint, and how to take action in 2019. Our youth organizer--Jett Zhang--is leading the efforts, bringing together the generation that has the most at stake in the climate crisis. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org; find 350 Pensacola on Facebook. 1040 N Guillemard St, Pensacola, Florida 32501 .
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 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here. Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.
March 13 - 1:30 PM- 2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) - The Villages) - The Villages Environmental Discussions Group will host speaker Steve Hendrickson from a Villages Lifestyle Club, Citizens Climate Lobby. Steve will address the topic ‘Solving the Climate Challenge.’ He will describe the 2019 Climate Action Conference held in February at USF in Tampa, and the bi-partisan federal bill HR 763. Bring your questions, comments, and a friend or two. If you have a question, email it to email@example.com. (Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL 32162).
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
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 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.
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