FCC News Brief - November 19, 2018

Read Environment: Florida needs to plan for growth and create science-based benchmarks - “...The best overall approach, the Influencers said, was to put political interests aside and seek the advice of climate science experts to develop the most effective policies to protect the environment. Statement summarizing the views of the working group regarding the issue: Florida’s environment is our business. Instead of making our challenges a burden, we have an opportunity to be entrepreneurial and use innovation and new technologies to make this an economic driver. Florida has world-class scientific talent that can be brought to bear on these challenges with new investment. That said, our conservation issues are real: climate change, sea level rise, water quality and quantity, and urban sprawl are elements that undermine our economy and our quality of life. Addressing these issues must be your top priority if you wish to see Florida and its economy flourish.  This is a nonpartisan issue. A commitment to science-based decisions is essential, but so too is a commitment to standing by science-based recommendations even when they present tough choices. To meet these challenges we will need to be self-disciplined, and hold ourselves accountable for making science-based decisions. The environment must be treated as the economic indicator that it really is. The success of Everglades Restoration, land conservation, water quality protection and climate change adaptation will be the bellwether of Florida’s economic future…” From the Florida Influencers Environmental Panel (Julie Wraithmell, Jorge Perez, Xavier Cortada, David Mica, Fabiola Fleuranvil, Tiffany Troxler).

Read Ron DeSantis ran on clean water. It’s time a governor focus on the Indian River Lagoon - “DeSantis will have at least four years to put his money where his mouth is. And when we say money, we mean lots of it — for the Indian River Lagoon.  Here in Brevard County, we feel duped. During the 2016 fish kills county officials asked the state for money. The state told the county we needed to pony up our own matching funds and have a plan with specific projects. Later that year, voters chose to tax themselves through a half-cent sales tax to fund lagoon cleanup. Our top lagoon experts came up with a plan. Brevard has done its share. Our legislative delegation has asked the Legislature for millions in matching dollars for specific projects. Those requests were unmet for the most part. In fact, we fear because Brevard raised so much money, the state now feels we can fend for ourselves. Although the sales tax is projected to raise $486 million over a 10-year period, county officials have made it clear that's not enough to clean up an Indian River Lagoon that has been deteriorating for decades...This is DeSantis' chance to be Florida's Teddy Roosevelt and use his bully pulpit — and possibly his veto pen — to press lawmakers...DeSantis seems to understand that our issues in Brevard County — mainly septic tank pollution and urban runoff — are different from what our neighbors to the south face. He visited the Space Coast in August for a briefing on lagoon issues. The northernmost part of the estuary in Volusia County is in his former congressional district. "It affects our quality of life, so it's something that we need to tend to," DeSantis said during his meeting with scientists and local elected officials…” From the Florida Today Editorial Board.

Read As state dries out, spring flow will slow-but not for a few months - “When Florida's rainy season ends, there are some immediate tells: Homeowners get to spend less time mowing lawns, sprinklers go into overtime and rain-fed lakes and rivers get shallower. But some of the effects are less quick to reveal themselves. Underneath Florida, encased in sand, clay and limestone, a veined network of layered groundwater wells known as aquifers rely on rainfall to replace the water it loses to natural water systems and human consumption...But aquifers can be hundreds of feet deep, and it can take months or even years for rain to cycle through and seep down through the geological “Swiss cheese” of limestone caverns and layers of sand and clay under our feet before it resurfaces in a spring. “What happens in places south of here, it takes many, many years to percolate down,” said Dr. Chris Anastasiou, a chief scientist and springs expert with the Southwest Florida Water Management District...If there’s a severe drought, saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico will start to intrude upriver, increasing the Chassahowitzka River’s salinity. This makes it challenging for the freshwater vegetation growing there and the fish species that use those areas as their nursery. “It stops looking a spring and starts looking like an estuarine,” Anastasiou said...Humans can’t control how much it rains. What they can do is manage and lessen how much water is taken out of the ground, getting Florida’s aquifers through another dry winter. “People want green lawns, but every little bit helps,” Anastasiou said. “It’s something we can do to help.” Buster Thompson reports for the Citrus County Chronicle.

Read Regional climate change coalition has one holdout: Pasco County - “When officials from 24 cities and counties met in St. Petersburg on Oct. 8 to form a regional coalition dedicated to addressing climate change and sea level rise, there was one Tampa Bay county government missing. Pasco did not join the pact with Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus and Manatee counties — but not because the Pasco County Commission voted against it. Commissioner Jack Mariano is Pasco’s representative on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the organization that began forming the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition earlier this year. But Mariano, a Republican, declined to even pass along the coalition resolution to his commission colleagues for discussion because he said he does not believe in two words central to the document: climate change. Despite globally embraced evidence that Earth is warming, and that the primary cause is human activity, Mariano said he rejects that science…” Tracey McManus reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Coastal Barrier Resources Act protects taxpayers and coastal habitats - “When tragedy strikes our coasts with hurricanes and extreme storms, property owners often lean on federal tax dollars to recover. And it’s right for tax dollars to help pick up the pieces after rare catastrophic events. But unfortunately, in some of the most hazard-prone areas, damage to coastal property is a recurring event—as are the repeated costs to the public. These federal dollars have the unintended consequence of subsidizing rebuilding and new construction in coastal areas where future, repeated loss is a near certainty.  To help break this cycle in areas at highest risk and greatest ecological value, President Ronald Reagan signed the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) in 1982 with strong bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats hailed the measure, and Reagan described it as “simply adopting the sensible approach that risk associated with new private development in sensitive coastal areas should be borne by the private sector, not underwritten by the American taxpayer.” ...This Act is a cornerstone of protecting Florida’s economy and ecology, but there are hazardous coastal areas not yet protected under the original act. This is why current legislation (H.R. 5787) is so important, extending the protections to additional vulnerable areas including modest expansions throughout Florida.   This legislation protects an additional 17,000 coastal acres in hurricane-prone states, including Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Delaware. H.R. 5787 passed the U.S. House on Friday November 16 with strong bipartisan support (375 to 1). Heidi McCree and David Yarnold write for Audubon Florida.

Read How did Florida’s environment fare in the midterms? - “The fragility and importance of the state’s natural systems headlined the lead-up to the recent midterm vote, as red tide and toxic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) fouled both Gulf and freshwater throughout the region, slaughtering sea creatures, sickening residents and snuffing hospitality jobs.    Candidates quickly organized town-hall meetings. Nonprofits marched. State agencies stayed on the sidelines, to the dismay of activists. Yet once it was time to vote, “the algae and the red tide issues sort of dissipated,” said FGCU political science professor Peter Bergerson. “I think the appearance of the president at the very end dominated the turnout.” It’s not that the environment didn’t matter to voters, Bergerson said; it just mattered less than other issues. For many water champions, gloom was the order of the day after. “I’d say almost all water advocates are dismayed at the election results,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. “(We’re) not feeling good about Florida’s future with those elected.”...Political newcomer and physician Parisima Taeb, who challenged Fitzenhagen unsuccessfully for her District 78 seat, said her loss points to an entrenched system. “As long as corporate money and dark money polluters are funding campaigns and politicians, there is very little chance that things will change for the better,” she said. “And if politicians refuse to believe in climate change or refuse to believe in science-based evidence, things will not get better. A fundamental frustration is what Taeb sees as officials’ disdain for science. “If elected officials refuse to believe in science-based facts, then we will not be able to save our environment or waters, our community’s health will be in jeopardy, and Florida’s economy will continue to suffer.” Others urged advocates not to lose sight of what progress has been made. “We have to remember we are living now in a time when there are whole series of Everglades ecosystem restoration projects coming to fruition and ready to be finishing up,” said Rae Ann Wessel, natural resources policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. “It seems like molasses for those of us who have been living it, but you have to celebrate that those things are coming together.” Another positive to come from the water crisis is “all these concerned people coming out of the woodwork, groups forming like Captains for Clean Water,” Wessel said. “I’ve said, ‘Don't let a good disaster go to waste.’ We need to be pulling together a set of expectations for the new administration, whoever they may be.” Read Amy Bennett Williams reports for the News-Press.

Read How extreme weather is shrinking the planet - “As this essay goes to press, California is ablaze. A big fire near Los Angeles forced the evacuation of Malibu, and an even larger fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills, has become the most destructive in California’s history. After a summer of unprecedented high temperatures and a fall “rainy season” with less than half the usual precipitation, the northern firestorm turned a city called Paradise into an inferno within an hour, razing more than ten thousand buildings and killing at least sixty-three people; more than six hundred others are missing...For the past few years, a tide of optimistic thinking has held that conditions for human beings around the globe have been improving. Wars are scarcer, poverty and hunger are less severe, and there are better prospects for wide-scale literacy and education. But there are newer signs that human progress has begun to flag. In the face of our environmental deterioration, it’s now reasonable to ask whether the human game has begun to falter—perhaps even to play itself out. Late in 2017, a United Nations agency announced that the number of chronically malnourished people in the world, after a decade of decline, had started to grow again—by thirty-eight million, to a total of eight hundred and fifteen million, “largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.”...Scientists have warned for decades that climate change would lead to extreme weather. Shortly before the I.P.C.C. report was published, Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, inflicted thirty billion dollars’ worth of material damage and killed forty-five people. President Trump, who has argued that global warming is “a total, and very expensive, hoax,” visited Florida to survey the wreckage, but told reporters that the storm had not caused him to rethink his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accords…” Bill McKibben writes for The New Yorker.


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Upcoming Environmental Events:

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 17, 9:00am-11:00am - National Take a Hike Day (Naples) - Join Conservation Collier to celebrate National Take a Hike Day at either Gordon River Greenway (1596 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples FL) or the Nancy Payton Preserve (1540 Blue Sage Drive, Naples FL). Meet at the Parking Area/Trailhead. Pre-registration required. Call 239-252-2961 or email at conservationcollier@colliercountyfl.gov .

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 heaven@flsun.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.

December 6, 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free Recycle Right to Meet Industry Challenges Webinar - Florida has made great strides in increasing its recycling rates but shrinking global markets for recycling materials and increased “contamination” or non-recyclables in the stream are presenting daunting challenges for the industry.  Join Karen Moore, Recycling Manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Dawn McCormick, Chair of the Florida Recycling Partnership and Waste Management Director of Communications; and a County Recycling Manager as they discuss these challenges and cost implications for Florida’s counties, cities and businesses.  This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM for planners (#9162164) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.

January 19, 2019 - 10:00am-12:00pm - Rising Sea Levels- Are we losing our coastal cities? (Deerfield) - The Deerfield Progressive Forum will host Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, for a discussion of sea level rise and its impacts on Florida. For 39 years progressives in South Florida have been enlightened by a series of weekly talks presented by nationally distinguished speakers on provocative current issues. Lively discussion follows each talk. The Deerfield Progressive Forum meets every Saturday morning from December through March from 10:00 AM-noon in Century Village, Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit their site here.

January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Preview Webinar - The 60-day 2019 Florida Legislative Session starts on March 5 and is scheduled to end on May 3 of 2019.  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 may be up for consideration during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and will discuss how this could impact state and local governance and planning in Florida. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162191) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.

March 27, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - 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/.

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.

Petitions

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

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

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

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.  

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