Read Florida could add offshore drilling ban to state’s constitution - “Amendment 9 on the Nov. 6 ballot would add constitutional language to bar “drilling for exploration or extraction of oil or natural gas” in state waters off the coasts of Florida. The proposal needs 60 percent support by voters to succeed. The oil and gas industry opposes the amendment in principle but concedes it would have very little practical impact. “There’s already an existing law in place. It’s been in place for over 30 years,” said David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute. “We have not conducted a massive public relations campaign because we didn’t see the benefit relative to the cost,' Mica told Bloomberg Government Oct. 23. Amendment 9 would apply only to state waters, which extend 3 nautical miles out from shore on Florida’s Atlantic coast and 9 nautical miles on the Gulf coast...The Destin Dome natural gas reserve, which lies in federal waters about 25 miles south of Pensacola, Fla., has long been one of the industry’s untapped targets in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Some environmental advocacy groups are endorsing Amendment 9. 'Amendment 9 will help protect Florida’s beaches, our economy and our wildlife from oil spills by banning nearshore drilling,' the Florida Wildlife Federation said on its website. The amendment faced a legal challenge that threatened to remove it from Florida ballots as recently as mid-October. Opponents of the proposal and other measures on the November ballot argued a single constitutional amendment can’t contain multiple unrelated topics. Amendment 9 also proposes a ban on using electronic cigarettes or vapor tobacco products in the workplace. A Florida trial court agreed and ordered Amendment 9—along with two others—stricken from the November ballot, but the Florida Supreme Court overturned the decision in an Oct. 17 ruling in Detzner v. Anstead, allowing the ballot questions to remain. The proposal is one of several offered this year by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, a panel of state lawmakers and other appointees that meets every 20 years…” Chris Marr and Tripp Baltz report for Bloomberg BNA.
Read Florida’s environment a key issue on voters’ minds ahead of election - “The water woes, from red tide to blue-green algae, have been affecting Southwest Florida waterways and businesses for the past year. After two water quality crises and a summer of record-setting algae blooms, the environment has vaulted to the top of voters’ minds ahead of election day. 'Over the past six months, it has been a really horrific experience for many people in the environment in Southwest Florida,' said Marisa Carrozzo, the Senior Environmental Policy Specialist at the Conservatory of Southwest Florida.The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, meaning the organization cannot legally endorse candidates. But that's not stopping them from trying to solve our water quality issues. 'Nutrient pollution, from nitrogen and phosphorus, is one of the most prevalent water quality problems in Southwest Florida. Building projects that are going to reduce the damaging high volume discharges into the Caloosahatchee,' said Carrozzo as she began to list off recommendations to improve water quality. 'The Everglades agriculture area reservoir that will be located south of Lake Okeechobee is going to help reduce the damaging destructions.' The Conservancy’s recommendations include building a series of storage facilities and reservoirs throughout the Caloosahatchee watershed to regulate releases from Lake Okeechobee south, instead of east and west. They're also hoping for stricter policies to prevent nutrient and stormwater pollution. 'Treating pollution at the source, so preventing pollution from getting into our waterways in the first place is the most cost-effective and, overall, the best way of dealing with water quality problems,' said Carozzo…” Ross DiMattei reports for ABC 7.
Read The Energy 202: Why some Florida voters associate Rick Scott with toxic algae - “Forget about a blue wave. Scott is dealing with red tide — a gigantic outbreak of toxic algae that has bedeviled this part of the Gulf Coast for more than a year. Although polls had earlier shown Scott locked in a dead heat with incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, the governor is behind. His environmental record threatens to cost Republicans what had been seen as a prime opportunity to pad the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate. Scott suspended his campaign to oversee the state’s response to Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle. Meanwhile, voters whose support he desperately needs on the southern Gulf Coast ... are contending with two algae blooms — saltwater red tide and a separate outbreak of freshwater blue-green algae — that have hurt tourism and tarnished the Sunshine State’s image as a vacation paradise. In a race that many thought was Scott’s to lose, polls show his opponent, Nelson could retain his seat. The governor is being taunted as 'Red Tide Rick,' and some Floridians have made him the butt of jokes on social media, contrasting the state’s beautiful beaches with the dead fish littering its shores. Under Scott, the budgets of state agencies that manage fresh water were cut by nearly a billion dollars, and a steep drop in pollution enforcement cases coincided with the decimation of staff at the state environmental protection department. When Scott entered office on a wave of tea party populism in 2011, the South Florida Water Management District was on the verge of closing a deal to purchase more than 150 acres of land owned by sugar-cane farms that sent nutrient pollution into Lake Okeechobee. The transaction stood to significantly reduce pollution that’s choking the lake. Scott helped nix it, calling the agreement a boondoggle…” Dino Grandoni reports for the Washington Post.
Read Sarasota installs stormwater filter to reduce red tide - “Local stormwater utilities have set a trap for trash and nutrients that foster red tide to keep them from reaching Sarasota Bay. A uniquely-designed baffle box filters organic matter, garbage and sediment pouring into a three-chamber filtration system placed underneath 10th Street near the Centennial Park and Boat Ramp in April. The box was intended to protect the boat basin, which was hydrologically dredged of about 20,000 tons of silt earlier this year. It will also help to keep nitrogen and nutrients that exacerbate red tide blooms out of coastal waters. The design of the baffle box, which is 24 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 17 feet deep, is one of a kind, according to Sarasota senior utilities engineer William Nichols. 'It has huge potential for outfalls up and down the coast,' he said. 'By design, we needed to remove 2,000 pounds of sediment out of the stormwater system each year. We think we will exceed that.' Stevie Freeman-Montes, sustainability manager for the city of Sarasota, said the environmental impact makes the project worthwhile. A lot of excess organic matter — leaves, trees and limbs — get dumped into the stormwater system at street level. When the baffle box was cleaned Tuesday, numerous bottles, organic material, sediment and two tires were removed. Based on the cleaning, the yearly collection estimate increased from an initial projection of 36 tons to as much as 50 tons of waste a year. 'This project does not encourage a free pass to residents to put anything they want into the drain,' Freeman-Montes said. 'It’s important to catch it, but stopping it at street level is the best.' 'A lot of folks don’t realize how directly connected to our ecosystem and bay these storm drains are,' Freeman-Montes said. 'They are a direct straw to our bay. Everything that is going down there is going to impact our bay.' Red tide has lingered along the Southwest Florida coast for nearly 13 months, thriving on nutrients from urban runoff. The algae bloom is impacting local businesses up and down the coast. Matt Fueyo, owner of Reel Tight Fishing Charters, said few locals have booked fishing trips this year. His charter is running about three trips a week from St. Pete to the Boca Grande area after averaging one trip a day last year. 'We are seeing discoloration in the water on the beach and in the backwaters, even as far as 10 miles offshore,' Fueyo said. 'I’ve heard reports that people have seen it 15 to 20 miles offshore…” Carlos R. Munoz reports for the Herald Tribune
Read Reservoir backers shift focus to shorter timeline for project - “ Having secured federal authorization, Florida Bay and Everglades advocates now turn their focus to securing money and slashing the timeline for the $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. 'We’d like to see dirt moving by late next year,' Eric Eikenberg, chief executive of the Everglades Foundation, said Friday. President Donald Trump signed the 'America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018' on Oct. 23, after both chambers of the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly voted for it. Included among the act’s array of national water development projects is authorization for the massive reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Yet to be confirmed is the federal appropriation of funding for the water storage area. 'This probably should have happened 25 years ago, but we’ll take it as a win,' said Elizabeth Jolin, a founder of the Florida Bay Forever group based in the Florida Keys. 'Our community is concerned since [Congress] has not appropriated the money. Our work is not done and we need to remain vigilant.' State and federal agencies estimated that building the 10,500-acre reservoir, 23 feet deep, and a 6,500 water-treatment marsh may take 10 years or more. 'Let’s get it built in four years, not 10 or 15,' Eikenberg said. 'If the Army Corps of Engineers can repair the Mosul Dam in one year, this should not take another decade. … That same agency can build a big ditch to get water moving south to the Everglades and Florida Bay.' Florida Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart, who worked to commit the state’s $800 million share of the reservoir cost, made a similar comparison. 'The Empire State Building was built in one year and 45 days,' Negron said in a statement. 'I still have confidence in American ingenuity and resourcefulness. A groundbreaking this fall is in order. Let’s get it done. The nearly 21 million residents of Florida do not want to hear weak excuses about why earlier generations of Americans could apparently solve problems and accomplish goals without tedious procrastination.' A sugar company now holds the lease on the state-owned land that will become the reservoir. The lease expires in March 2019, Eikenberg said. 'We would like to see some temporary [water] storage in there by April,' he said. Once the Nov. 6 congressional elections have been decided, Everglades conservationists can 'start identifying who are our allies in the key appropriations committees,' Eikenberg said…” Kevin Wadlow reports for the Florida Keys News.
Read Florida heat is already hard on outdoor workers. Climate change will raise health risks - “Harvesting crops or building a house in the Florida sun is grueling work, and a new report shows that it’ll only get more miserable and unsafe for workers as climate change sends temperatures soaring. By at least one safety standard, it was too hot for Floridians to do very heavy labor (like digging with a shovel) for at least an hour a day almost every single day this summer. Unworkable, a report from Public Citizen and the Farmworker Association of Florida released Tuesday, spells out the risks to the state’s large population of outdoor workers, particularly construction and agricultural workers. The Sunshine State has one of the highest rates of heat-related hospitalizations in the nation, according to the report. That number is likely an undercount, since strokes, heart attacks, asthma and even mental illnesses can be aggravated by high heat. 'You talk to farmworkers and they know it’s getting hotter. They feel it and they’re worried,' said Jeannie Economos, the environmental health project coordinator for the Farmworker Association of Florida. They have no laws — at the state or national level — to protect them from heat stress, which is predicted to become more of a problem as global temperatures climb. Average temperatures in the contiguous U.S. have already risen more than one degree Fahrenheit since 1986, and a new United Nations report said that if the world doesn’t halt that rise at 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century the consequences could be catastrophic. In July, several advocacy groups, including the Farmworker Association of Florida and Public Citizen, asked the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to adopt a rule to protect workers from heat based on recommendations from top work safety groups and similar to those used by the U.S. military. For outdoor workers, that would mean regular shaded breaks and enough water to stay properly hydrated, something that isn’t guaranteed or even standard practice at every workplace. A survey of 300 nursery workers in Homestead by the organization WeCount! showed that more than half of surveyed workers weren’t allowed to rest in the shade and 69 percent had experienced symptoms of heat-related illness. WeCount! Executive Director Jonathan Fried said 15 percent of workers said they weren’t given water to drink. 'Many employers won’t do the right thing willingly,' he said. 'We need stronger protection for workers, or workers will be in ever greater danger as the heat increases in Florida and around the country.'... In Saudia Arabia, outdoor work is banned from noon to 3 p.m. for three months of the year to protect workers from dangerous conditions. Public Citizen’s Managing Director David Arkush said rising global temperatures could spread that policy around the globe — maybe even to Florida. 'We would be losing most of the outdoor labor in the south during the summer by the end of the century,' he said. 'In the hottest places, including probably South Florida, even nighttime work could become too hot.” Alex Harris reports for the Miami Herald.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar: This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company. This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.
November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.
November 13th - 5:30 pm - Recycling, recycling and more recycling (Fort Walton Beach)–. Join Earth Ethics, Inc as Jim Reece, Recycling Coordinator for Okaloosa County, talks to us about what can and can't be recycled, how to reduce, refuse, and reuse. Megan Betancourt Founder and Director of Coastal Community Clean up will discuss how they got started, what they do, and how you can get involved. Where: Enlightened Studios – 142 Miracle Strip Parkway – Fort Walton Beach – 32548. Let us know if you plan to join us. Get your ticket by visiting the link here, or check it out on Facebook here.
November 14 - 5:30pm-7:30pm - Walton Solar Co-Op Information Sessions (Santa Rosa Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc to learn more about how you can go solar! Meeting at the Coastal Branch Library, 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Learn more here , or contact Mary Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 14 - 12:45pm-2:45pm - Villages Environmental Discussions Group (The Villages) - Villages Environmental Discussions Group will hold its next meeting Wednesday, Nov. 14. at the Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL. Two fabulous guest speakers will be visiting us: Melissa Hill of Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) will describe the work of this organization who recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary! Melissa will also describe the work she performs as project coordinator of Nesting Sea Turtle Conservancy. Our next speaker will travel to The Villages from St. Augustine, FL. Maia McGuire, Ph.D., UF/IFAS Sea Grant Extension Agent, will give an update on the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project. This program is FREE and open to the public. Bring along a friend. Please send an r.s.v.p. to email@example.com.
November 17 - 9:00am-4:00pm - Highlands County Master Gardeners Festival (Sebring) - Join the Highlands County Master Gardeners for the inaugural Garden Festival. Kicked off at 9:00am by Shannon Reed singing the National Anthem, there will be live music, vendors, food, a kids zone, and plant classes. Where: Bert J Harris Agricultural Civic Center in Sebring: 4509 George Blvd.
November 27 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP -- Palm Beach County 2070: What’s Next? (Palm Beach Gardens) - Join 1000 Friends of Florida and the North County Neighborhood Coalition on Tuesday, November 27 to identify the steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Palm Beach County. We want to hear from you about what you think the biggest obstacles are to sustainability and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at Nova’s Palm Beach Campus, 11501 North Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070plan to find out more.
November 28 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP – Martin County 2070: What’s Next? (Stuart) - Join 1000 Friends and The Guardians of Martin County on Wednesday, November 28 to share your thoughts on steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Martin County. We want to hear from you about what you think are the biggest obstacles to sustainability in Martin County and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at the Susan H. Johnson Auditorium, Wolf High-Technology Center, 2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/mco2070plan to find out more.
December 1, 9:00am-4:00pm - 2018 Florida Solar Congress (Miami) - The 2018 Florida Solar Congress is a free public conference. It brings together solar supporters from across the state to learn and discuss the current solar landscape and future for solar energy in Florida. The day will include a series of presentations about solar technology and policy, as well as ways to get involved with helping to grow solar in Florida. Topics will include: solar 101, solar + battery storage for homes, grassroots solar advocacy, electric vehicles, ways to get involved, and much more! The event will conclude with a participatory open forum discussion for all attendees to discuss priorities and opportunities that solar supporters in Florida should focus on in the coming year. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees! RSVP here. Interested in volunteering at this event? Email Heaven Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 1, 12:00pm-4:00pm - NFLT J.J. Grey Concert- (Jacksonville) - The North Florida Land Trust presents Jacksonville-hailing J.J. Grey, singer and songwriter described by his fans as ‘the North Florida sage and soul-bent swamp rocker’ who has gained worldwide acclaim with his band, JJ Grey and Mofro. This December’s concert brings Grey back home to his beloved roots and will feature JJ Grey in a solo performance. Grey shares a commitment to the land of his north Florida home that fits perfectly with North Florida Land Trust’s mission to protect special places in the region. Grey often sings about the changing landscape in northern Florida and his soulfulness and deep beliefs come through in his music. The concert will be held at Congaree and Penn Farm & Mills: 11830 Old Kings Road, Jacksonville, FL 32219. For more information and tickets, visit the NFLT site here.
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