Read The climate is on the ballot in six states - “From the Cascades of Washington to the coast of Florida, the country is witnessing a wave of state ballot initiatives to advance policies that combat climate change. In response to a climate-denying federal administration, grassroots coalitions are mobilizing to defeat fossil fuel interests and protect our country from the ravages of climate change, one state at a time. Climate is on the ballot in Washington, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Arizona...In Florida, a ballot initiative, Amendment 9, aims to ban oil drilling in nearshore waters. Passage of the amendment would send a clear signal to the Trump administration that Floridians oppose expanded drilling. Currently, coastal communities face the risk of sea rise that would drive thousands from their homes. “Floridians might be spread across the political spectrum, but there’s at least one thing most people agree on: it’s not in Florida’s interest to jeopardize the beauty of our coasts with dirty and dangerous oil drilling,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida. Early and absentee voting by young people under 30 has increased by 131 percent from 2014 in Florida. These climate initiatives stand as a sharp rebuke to the Trump administration’s rejection of scientific consensus and deliberate undermining of progress to address climate change. Climate initiatives have risen as a unifier, bringing together disparate groups who are called to act in the face of climate change. Democrats in Washington who are championing a carbon fee find an unlikely ally in Florida Republicans working to protect their coasts, and Arizonans and Nevadans from both parties recognize that renewable energy has the potential to green their state and generate countless high-paying jobs to fuel their economies. A fractured country is coming together for meaningful climate action. Some are asking if this surge of grassroots support can stand against the millions of dollars spent by a fossil fuel industry that aims to maintain the status quo when voters head to the polls. Whatever the answer to that question yields on Tuesday, the grassroots coalitions that have spearheaded these efforts show no signs of slowing down. Climate action is coming.” Jake Kornack writes Opinion for The Hill.
Read Rural America’s own private Flint: polluted water too dangerous to drink - “The groundwater that once ran cool and clean from taps in this Midwestern farming town is now laced with contaminants and fear. People refuse to drink it. They won’t brush their teeth with it. They dread taking showers. Rural communities call it their own, private Flint— a diffuse, creeping water crisis tied to industrial farms and slack regulations that for years has tainted thousands of residential wells across the Midwest and beyond. Now, fears and frustration over water quality and contamination have become a potent election-year issue, burbling up in races from the fissured bedrock here in Wisconsin to chemical-tainted wells in New Hampshire to dwindling water reserves in Arizona. President Trump’s actions to loosen clean water rules have intensified a battle over regulations and environmental protections unfolding on the most intensely local level: in people’s own kitchen faucets. In Wisconsin and other Midwestern states where Republicans run the government, environmental groups say that politicians have cut budgets for environmental enforcement and inspections and weakened pollution rules. In Iowa, for example, the Republican-led Legislature dismissed a package of bills that would have blocked any new large-scale hog operations until the state cleaned up its nitrogen-laden rivers and streams. “The regulations favor agriculture,” said Gordon Gottbeheut, 77, whose nitrate-contaminated well near Armenia, Wis., sits next to a field that is injected with manure. “When they keep cutting enforcement and people, there’s nobody to keep track of what’s happening.” There are no precise water-quality surveys of the galaxy of private wells that serve 43 million people in the United States, but sampling by the United States Geological Survey has found contamination in about one of every five wells. Few water-quality rules regulate those wells, meaning there is no water company to call, no backup system to turn to, and often no simple way to cure the contamination. In Flint, lead-tainted water prompted a public health emergency that led to a criminal investigation...In Wisconsin, a state report recently found that as many as 42,000 of the state’s 676,000 private wells, or 6 percent, were likely to exceed the federal health standards for nitrates, which can come from fertilizer use and manure spreading. Nitrates have been linked to a dangerous blood condition in babies and may increase cancer risks in adults…” Jack Healy reports for the New York Times.
Read Coastal development, sea rise sent Hurricane Irma storm surge to more homes, study shows - “Sea rise and development have put more Florida property at risk to hurricane storm surge flooding — about 43 percent more — according to a recent study that looked at Hurricane Irma’s effect with different sea levels. NOAA Tidal gauges in Key West show that South Florida has seen about seven inches of sea level rise since the 1970s, which is part of the reason sunny day flooding has worsened in recent decades. But when a hurricane blows through, that extra water becomes an even greater liability. Storm winds whip the water into buildings, busting through doors and swirling the contents of homes (or washing them away altogether.) Storm surge from Hurricane Irma alone affected 133,000 homes across Florida (45,000 alone in Miami-Dade) as the storm crawled up the spine of the state. According to an analysis by First Street Foundation, that seven inches of sea rise, plus an explosion of coastal development over the last decades, led Irma to swamp 57,000 extra homes. If development along the Florida coast had been frozen in 1970s, the seven inches of additional sea rise pushing farther inland would have affected 35,000 more homes. That pace of development doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon, nor does the rate of sea rise. Projections by the Southeast Florida Climate Compact, on which four South Florida counties base some of their decision making, predict 11 to 20 inches of sea rise from 1992 levels by 2050…” Alex Harris reports for the Miami Herald.
Read Young activists can sue government over climate change, Supreme Court says - “A group of young people can sue the federal government over its climate change policies, the Supreme Court said Friday. Since it was first filed in 2015, the government has requested several times that Juliana v. United States be dismissed. "I want to trust that we are truly on track for trial without having further delays," Kelsey Juliana, a 22-year-old plaintiff, said in a statement, "but these defendants are treating this case, our democracy, and the security of mine and future generations like it's a game. I'm tired of playing this game." "The Supreme Court order is without prejudice and recognizes ongoing appellate proceedings in the lower courts," a Department of Justice spokesperson said in a statement. "We are pleased that it sets a path for the Justice Department to continue efforts toward dismissal of this improper case." The lawsuit — brought by 21 plaintiffs, many of whom are minors, in U.S. district court in Eugene, Ore. — claims the federal government encouraged the production of oil, gas and other fossil fuels, causing the planet to warm and infringing on several of the plaintiffs' fundamental rights. It lists examples that the government knew the Earth was warming as early as 1965, and it requests a court order for the government to decrease carbon dioxide emissions as well as the creation of a national plan to "restore Earth's energy balance" and "stabilize the climate system." "The breadth of respondents' claims is striking," the Supreme Court had said in an earlier court order. But it said the claims should not be dismissed before going to trial. Leigh-Ann Draheim, whose son Levi, 11, is the youngest plaintiff, said the case was based in part on the public trust doctrine."People have the right to running water, clean water" and clean air, Draheim told NPR. "And then there's also the amendment with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One's life is at risk with health and with having to leave our home."The trial had previously been scheduled to start Oct. 29. The group Our Children's Trust, which has provided support for the plaintiffs, said it had requested a status conference to set a new trial date…” Jacob Pinter reports for NPR.
Read Red tide and Lake Okeechobee’s blue-green algae ruined the dreams of my brother, the fishing guide, and literally worried him to death - “The official word is that my brother died of a sudden cardiac arrest. But I’m blaming Florida’s toxic algae release of blue-green goo from Lake Okeechobee into the Gulf of Mexico. It broke my brother’s heart. My brother was Mark Futch, a premier tarpon fishing guide from Boca Grande, hailed throughout Florida for leading a successful campaign to outlaw fishing equipment that was killing tarpon, a large game fish that is inedible but sought after for sport and its renowned leaping ability. But when the purposeful release of toxic algae hit the Gulf of Mexico, killing everything in its path, including Mark’s charter fishing business, his heart just couldn’t take it. I don’t think Mark is the only one. The local “coconut telegraph” is buzzing with stories about a different fishing guide who left a note for his loved ones in his pickup truck. They found his body a few days later, hanging in a tree by his favorite fishing spot. Back in May, south Florida received record rainfall. Lake Okeechobee was filled to the brim and its water was infested with algae born from foul runoff attributed to Big Sugar, Big Citrus, golf courses, manure from the cattle industry and 2.6 million septic tanks leeching human waste. On June 2, the Army Corps of Engineers and local water managers released the poisonous green slime from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River. Then, amid fears of a dike breach, another goo release came on Friday the 13th in July. Millions more gallons of green slime water flooded the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River estuaries, killing everything below the surface. Everything. Billions of critters. The Gulf Coast death toll includes every species of fish that lives in these estuaries as well as dolphin, manatees, sea turtles, even plankton-eating whale sharks. On its way west along the Caloosahatchee River to Fort Myers, the poisonous green goo combined with Red Tide in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor and killed everything from manatees and dolphin to tarpon and turtles, even wiping out crabs and shrimp. The algae bloom became Florida’s Three Mile Island, an underwater Chernobyl that’s left in its wake a fishless desert from Naples to Tampa/St. Petersburg and up to 20 miles offshore, so say divers who’ve been there. When Okeechobee’s goo mixed with an unfortunately timed but natural Red Tide in Boca Grande Pass, where my brother had operated his business for 43 years, 15,000 silver king tarpon averaging 100 pounds apiece disappeared. And so did the final 45 days of my brother’s guide season that would have paid off a new $32,000 engine, a Caterpillar turbo diesel with a Borg-Warner transmission attached to a new brass propeller…” David Futch writes Special to the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Several issues in Polk-Swiftmud legal showdown-“ During the past few months, I’ve been watching two contrasting trend lines. One depicts falling water levels in the Polk County section of Peace River in the absence of significant rainfall during the past month or so. The other depicts the rising tensions in reaction to the legal dispute between Polk County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) over conflicting plans to tap the Peace River to provide two growing areas of Florida with future drinking water supplies. I’ve also been rereading a book published in 2003 recounting the history of the Tampa Bay water wars that were supposedly settled 20 years ago with the creation of a regional utility called Tampa Bay Water. I was thinking about how all of these things are connected when I read a recent letter to the editor published in The Ledger that proposed that the downstream permit request could be modified “if and when Polk County starts to impact the Peace River.” That sentiment is at least 75 years too late. Overpumping of the aquifer in Polk County eliminated the river’s base flow. Mine impoundments intercepted surface flow to river tributaries. Half a century of municipal and industrial sewer discharges and untreated urban stormwater runoff polluted the river’s headwaters. The heart of the Tampa Bay water wars was the fact that Pinellas County had overpumped its aquifer to the point there was no more fresh water to be had to slake the thirst of the growth machine, leading to its decision to work with Swiftmud to develop wellfields in then-rural areas of Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Those wellfields were overpumped, too, causing lakes and wetlands to disappear and a strong reaction from the public. Even though utility officials initially tried to blame the problems on lack of rainfall, no one bought that excuse. The reason Polk utility officials are being forced to look for alternative water supplies is because the Upper Floridan Aquifer has been tapped to nearly its sustainable limit to satisfy the demands of growth and commerce. Swiftmud had agreed to contribute $40 million toward Polk’s efforts to develop alternative supplies...Meanwhile, it is important to keep in mind that there are two separate issues involved here. One is Polk’s legal challenge to the permit proposed by the Peace River Manasota Water Supply Authority to double its maximum withdrawal from the river. That challenge, unless the parties overcome the current impasse and reach a settlement, is headed for a three-week trial in January. That will produce a recommended order that will then go to the Swiftmud board for a final decision. The other issue is Polk’s application to withdraw water from the Peace and Alafia rivers and to impound water along the Peace Creek Drainage Canal to increase aquifer recharge in a bid to allow Winter Haven to get a more generous well permit from Swiftmud.” Tom Palmer writes for The Ledger.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 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/.
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