Victoria Tschinkel writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “Legislators have tripped over themselves in a stampede to pass House Bill 7043 at the behest of the very folks who want fast and simple permitting to destroy our most fragile natural heritage – our wetlands… The legislation would allow the state of Florida to “take over” most Clean Water Act federal reviews and permitting... Mind you, right now the state of Florida has authority to regulate potential destruction of wetlands under state law… But here’s the slight of hand: If and when Florida adds federal permitting to its portfolio, significant protections available only under federal law will disappear because state law does not contain those protections… The state’s position is that all this will be magically covered by “agreements” and “memoranda of understanding” with a plethora of agencies… How can this happen without specific changes in Florida legislative authority? It can’t, and no such changes are contained in the current legislation… Florida has consistently rejected responsibility for the (federal) program because of the decrease in wetland protection and lack of funding for the additional work. The environmental organizations comprising the Florida Conservation Coalition oppose accepting it now. Some members would have been willing to reconsider their opposition if the legislature were required to review and ratify the mysterious packet of agreements during next year’s session. At least legislators would know what they were voting for. But the Legislature declined this opportunity. In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring legislative ratification of each detail of DEP’s method of determining exactly what qualifies as a wetland – down to the approval of every single wetland plant. This provided the development community with comfort. Yet now the Legislature is allowing the entire system for protecting Florida’s wetlands to be weakened without a second thought. I guess the people of Florida don’t deserve the same level of comfort as developers… Scott should veto HB 7043 when it lands on his desk.” Read Florida’s treasured wetlands on the eve of destruction – we cannot allow it
The Osceola News-Gazette writes – “Osceola County teamed up with Orange County more than 20 years ago and spent millions of taxpayer dollars to buy 1,700 acres of land now known as Split Oak Forest and Conservation Area. The Florida Communities Trust… also contributed public funds to make the deal happen. Split Oak was supposed to remain untouched forever. But forever has gone out the window now that homebuilders want to extend Osceola Parkway through the forest… [W]hat is shocking, and frankly appalling, is that the Osceola County Commission has done nothing to try and stop them… The decision on whether or not to build through Split Oak is ultimately up to CFX, the Central Florida Expressway Authority. Osceola County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins also chairs the CFX board… The Orange County Commission last year sent a letter to regional transportation officials asserting Orange County’s authority over its portion of Split Oak and said they were ‘concerned on behalf of its citizens about any alignment that might lie wholly or partially within Orange County.’ Why hasn’t the Osceola County Commission followed suit?... Chairman Hawkins… hasn’t done enough to address concerns from Osceola residents and environmental groups that object to building through Split Oak… Infringing on even one inch of Split Oak would demonstrate a blatant disregard for the whole idea of mitigation…” Read Why isn’t the Osceola County Commission standing up for Split Oak?
Alex Harris reports for the Miami Herald – “Miami voted to tax itself for nearly $200 million in sea level rise mitigation. Miami Beach is spending half a billion on a new stormwater system and elevated roads. But a new political campaign starting in Miami is pushing a radical proposal: that polluters, not taxpayers, should foot the bill… Former Miami Beach Mayor and current gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has already brought it up while campaigning.” Read Why Miami is the first stop on a campaign to ask polluters to pay for climate action
Susan Salisbury reports for my Palm Beach Post – “Russian agents exploited social media to attempt to disrupt U.S. domestic energy markets and stir up protests against the Sabal Trail pipeline and other pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change and other divisive issues, a Congressional report released this month found… For example, a tweet on Dec. 11, 2016 from RT, the Russian-sponsored news agency stated: ‘Critics call $3 billion #SabalTrail Pipeline #Florida’s Dakota Access Pipeline.’… The Russian agents efforts included attempting to incite Americans to take action against pipeline efforts by promoting links and references to online petitions aimed at stopping Sabal Trail, the Dakota Access and Enbridge Line 5 pipelines, the report states… U.S. production of natural gas and crude oil has boomed in recent years as hydraulic fracturing… has become the primary production method, and that increase is a direct threat to Russia, the world’s top producer, the report states.” Read Report: Russians targeted Sabal Trail pipeline on social media
Sarah Jarvis reports for News Press – “A Cape Coral biological company that has used its original technology to clean contaminated water… is… working… to get its products approved for use in some of Florida’s most polluted waters.” Read Cape Coral company sees success with environmental cleanup, hopes to tackle state’s most polluted waters
Philip Cote writes for The Citrus County Chronicle – “A recent rating by the League of Conservation Voters showed Rep. Daniel Webster at the bottom of Florida U.S. Representatives who care about environment. Citrus County has many important issues, but not many as important as the protection of our environment… [H]ow can a person supposedly representing this area of Florida have such a poor record and continue in office?” Read How does he keep getting elected?
Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o writes for The Guardian – “Did you know that what’s on your plate plays a larger role in contributing to climate change than the car you drive?” Read Why what we eat is crucial to the climate change question
Henry Fountain reports for The New York Times – “[T]he research… will analyze how severe storms affect the amount of carbon forests pull out of the atmosphere and store. And because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events in many parts of the world, the work will also help researchers understand how forests could be changed permanently as the world continues to warm… If this cycle of damage and regrowth – what ecologists call a disturbance regime – occurs more often as extreme storms become more frequent, some forests may never recover completely. Over decades, the reduction in stored carbon would likely become permanent. More carbon from human activity would remain in the atmosphere to contribute to climate change, or would have to be removed in other ways… Determining how the biomass in damaged forests changes over time is thus crucial to understanding the global carbon balance.” Read Forests Protect the Climate. A Future with More Storms Would Mean Trouble.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 13 – April 17 – Solar United Neighbors is hosting several solar co-op information sessions around Florida throughout the next few months. Attendees will learn about solar equipment, financing, and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. For a complete list of sessions, click here.
March 13, 7:00 pm – Attend Get the Green Out: Algal Bloom Presentation in Orange Park. St. Johns Riverkeeper will explain what causes blue-green algal blooms and why they may be toxic for you and the St. Johns River. Then, learn how you can take action to reduce algal bloom occurrences. For more information and to register, click here.
March 14-16, 8:30 am – Attend The Endangered Apalachicola Conference in Tallahassee. The Apalachicola ecosystem has incredible biodiversity and once provided for a booming oyster industry. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is now struggling to survive due to a lack of fresh water. The problem is so dire, Florida is suing Georgia over its water use! The Florida Conservation Coalition invites you to come learn more about this endangered ecosystem. After Thursday’s overview of challenges facing the Apalachicola, FCC Chair and former Florida Governor, Bob Graham, will host a special keynote dinner. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
March 14, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Speakers include Chris Mericle, talking about citizen protests against phosphate mining in Union and Bradford Counties, and Hunter Miller, discussing current threats to our oceans and action steps the group can take. For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary Hampton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 17, 9:00 am – Participate in St. Johns River Clean Up & Celebration: Goodbys Creek Paddle & Clean Up in Jacksonville. For more information, click here.
March 24, 8:30 pm – Participate in Earth Hour 2018. Each year, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and generally make noise to shine a light on the need for climate action. For more information, click here or contact Mary Gutierrez at email@example.com.
March 26, 6:00 pm – Attend a talk by Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper, on The Green Amendment: Our Right to a Healthy Environment at the Working Food Community Center (219 NW 10th Avenue) in Gainesville. Doors open at 5:30 PM.
April 14, 11:00 am – Attend the Last Straw Campaign Kickoff in Pensacola. Learn how you can modify your lifestyle to say no to straws and what you can do to get others on board. For more information, click here or contact Mary Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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