FCC News Brief - March 28, 2018

Josh Siegel reports for the Washington Examiner – “A divided Federal Energy Regulatory Commission… reissued its approval of the Sabal Trail pipeline, rejecting a ruling by a federal appeals court that it should better account for the impacts to climate change from the project… The D.C. circuit court decision directed FERC to review the climate change impacts of the Southeast Market pipelines or offer a compelling reason not to do so. That means FERC’s environmental impact statement for the project should quantify the emissions from the power plants that ultimately burn natural gas delivered by the pipelines, a process the court said is required under the National Environmental Policy Act. But…FERC reinstated its approval of the project, saying it could not determine the significance of the greenhouse gas emissions of burning the gas transported by the pipeline… FERC’s two Democratic commissioners dissented from the majority’s contention that it could not evaluate the significance of carbon emissions. ‘Willful ignorance of readily available analytical tools to support an enhanced qualitative assessment for the single largest environmental threat in our lifetime will undermine informed public comments and informed decision-making,’ said commissioner Richard Glick… ‘The commission should not fear adding transparency to its decision-making process…’… ‘The order fails to even concede that GHS emissions are an indirect impact that must be quantified in NEPA,’ LaFleur… wrote in dissent. ‘More broadly, the order asserts that GHG emissions quantifications cannot ‘meaningfully inform’ our public interest determination. I fundamentally disagree…’… LaFleur said she was hopeful FERC will soon adopt a broader approval policy for pipelines that better incorporates climate change considerations.” Read Divided FERC rejects climate change significance in re-approving Sabal Trail pipeline

Jacklyn Lopez writes for the Panama City News Herald – “The remarkable Panama City crayfish is found only in Bay County and is an important part of keeping our wetlands healthy…. But… [d]evelopment, drought, groundwater depletion, pollution and climate change are all working against this little critter. That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity… petitioned to protect the crayfish under the Endangered Species Act in 2010… leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose protection earlier this year. But if Rep. Neal Dunn has his way, this important little creature will not get the life-saving protections it so badly needs. Just last week, Dunn fired off a letter… urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to block protections and trying to cast doubt on the solid science behind the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision. This kind of politically motivated maneuvering – meant to obscure and undermine the best and most recent research – is exactly why the crayfish needs help… Powerful, deep-pocketed developers and politicians think protecting crayfish habitat could impede construction and other projects… Wetlands improve water quality and provide flood control. They filter pollutants from drinking water and are vital to healthy fish populations that attract anglers. Clearly, protecting the crayfish and its wetland habitat is in the county’s long-term economic and ecologic best interests.” Read Panama City Crayfish needs better protection

Glenn Compton writes for The Bradenton Times – “In 2008, the Florida Legislature became the first state in the nation to block local governments from banning plastic bags… As a result of the court’s decision that the state prohibition on banning plastic bags is ‘unconstitutionally vague,’ [ManaSota-88] will again request both counties no longer accept plastic grocery bags into their landfills.” Read Ten Reasons Why Florida Should Regulate Single-Use Plastic Bags

The Times Union Editorial Board writes – “The… issue involves the large number of septic tanks in urban areas where you would assume there would be water and sewer lines. Northwest Jacksonville is especially hard hit by this lack of infrastructure. And it’s affecting business… One count from the Health Department shows 1,465 businesses in Duval County with septic tanks, and 523 of them are located within the boundaries of the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development area. This development area was established in the 1980s to help foster business in the core city. It has had a checkered past, however, with some businesses failing despite city grants. A group of City Council members are suggesting a new use for some of the grant money. Some septic tanks are failing, resulting in complaints from neighbors to the Health Department. The idea is to use $1 million of trust fund money to provide grants to replace septic tanks to businesses that meet certain criteria in order to prevent them from moving.” Read Finally, some action on septic tanks

Scott Hoffman writes for Florida Today – “The sewage story is the case of the three monkeys: See nothing, say nothing and do nothing. “See nothing” is the Brevard Utilities department… “Say nothing” is the Save Our Lagoon Committee… “Do nothing” is the county and state government.” Read Brevard officials ‘see nothing, say nothing and do nothing’ on sewage issue

Matt Dixon reports for Politico Florida – “When Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Jan. 9 that Florida was ‘off the table’ for offshore oil drilling, the governor cast the hastily arranged news conference at the Tallahassee airport as unplanned and the Trump administration’s decision as something Scott had influenced at the eleventh hour. In fact, Zinke’s top advance staffer, whose job it is to plan ahead for such events, was in Tallahassee the previous day. And top officials from the offices of both Scott and the secretary were in regular contact for several days leading up to the announcement, according to more than 1,200 documents reviewed by POLITICO Florida as part of a public records request.” Read Records show Trump aides plotted political win for Rick Scott

Megan Ricker reports for The Independent Florida Alligator – “Floridians want to buy locally grown plants, and they’re willing to pay more for them, according to a recent study.” Read A UF-led study found that Florida consumers will pay about $7 more to buy local plants

Paul Rusnak reports for Growing Produce – “The University of Florida Board of Trustees has given the OK for UF/IFAS researchers to develop hemp management and cropping systems. The move is an important step to test the viability of what could become a valuable alternative crop for the state’s agriculture producers… [I]ndustrial hemp has applications for building materials, plastics, forages, skin products, and even pain relief… [P]reliminary assessment of the crop and cropping systems must be established prior to commercialization consideration. The research program will be seeking to identify productive varieties that can withstand environment, ecological, and economic threats. Researchers also will study the risk of any hemp plants becoming invasive threats to Florida’s environment… In order to officially move forward…, the research program still must be approved by federal and state legislative entities. ‘We still need to obtain DEP approval to import certified industrial hemp seed, and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services approval to obtain planting permits for each experimental location,’ Gilbert (Professor and Chair of the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department) confirms.” Read Industrial Hemp on the Radar for Florida Farmers and Researchers




From Our Readers

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Job Openings

President for 1000 Friends of Florida



Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Tell Congress to Stop Attacking Protections for Dolphins and Whales

Save Endangered Sea Turtles from Drowning in Shrimp Trawls

Defend Attacks on the Marine Mammal Protection Act

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


Upcoming Environmental Events    


April 3, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays in High Springs. April’s lecture is a general introduction to springs with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 9369.

April 5, 6:30 pm – Attend the Sierra Club Adventure Coast Committee’s meeting at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Boulevard) in Spring Hill. The meeting will feature the founder and national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Lynn Ringenberg. Social begins at 6:30, followed by the meeting at 7. For more information, email sierraadventurecoastcc@gmail.com or call (352) 277 – 3330.

April 7 – 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.

April 7, 1:00 pm – Attend EarthFest at the Sustainable Living Center (10665 SW 89th Ave.) in Hampton. There will be Auntie Sage Eco Story Telling for Kids, Paul’s Amazing Eco Trail Hikes, Eco Arts & Crafts, and more. For more information, email Earthman.Ty@gmail.com or call (352) 231 – 1648.

April 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Grant Wilson, J.D., Directing Attorney of Earth Law Center, will make a presentation via Skype on the rights of Nature and rivers. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

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 earthethicsaction@gmail.com.

May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.


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