Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Despite the dire warnings of environmental advocates, the Legislature last month passed a bill to allow the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to take over… federal wetlands destruction permits… and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law… [A] Corps comment period was supposed to end April 18. But Corps officials abruptly shut it down a week early, something Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation said he had never seen before… The Corps’ Florida headquarters folks in Jacksonville said it wasn’t their decision. Instead, the orders came down from the Pentagon. One phone call to Washington later and a man named Ryan Fisher, whose title is “Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works,” said he’s the one who shut it down. Fisher… said the Corps is just putting the whole thing on hold, not canceling the comment period. The reason: The Corps is working with the EPA on re-writing the requirements for which wetlands are under federal jurisdiction, which has been the subject of political wrangling for years. ‘We thought it would be wise to complete that’ before considering whether to hand over the permitting to Florida, Fisher said. The new rule should be out and ready for everyone to comment on by the end of the summer, he said, and once that’s done then it would be time to revive the Florida takeover.” Read Corps of Engineers not in a hurry to hand over wetlands permitting to Florida
The News Service of Florida reports – “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch… defended the bundling of topics in six of the eight amendments the 37-member panel agreed this week to put before voters in November… Thurlow-Lippisch was behind the offshore drilling ban, which was linked with a ban on electric cigarettes, in what is expected to become Amendment 9 on the ballot.” Read Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch defends CRC amendment bundling
John Cassani writes for the News-Press – “Fecal bacteria contamination plaguing Florida waters has reached a crisis point… The crisis represents a perfect storm of lax enforcement and under funding at the local, state and national levels… Florida stopped funding the Healthy Beaches program in 2011 and now depends entirely on federal funding. The Transparency Florida website currently lists 661 vacant positions for Florida County Health Units. Compounding the problem, the U.S. Congress may eliminate the federally funded Healthy Beaches Program… To help address the growing problem of harmful aglal blooms (HABs) and cyanobacteria, Florida Waterkeepers, led by the Calusa Waterkeeper, have asked legislators to reinstate the Florida HAB Task Force. The response to date has been that it would not be a popular budget item. Floridians want clean waters and a healthy environment, but this generally ranks low on political priorities. This must change. Please, speak out and become involved in advocating for better water quality.” Read Fecal bacteria ‘storm’ a nightmare for tourism
Dave Berman reports for Florida Today – “Brevard County utility officials are considering building a new $50 million wastewater treatment plant in the Indian Harbour Beach area, as well as making tens of millions of dollars in upgrades to aging clay piping throughout the county… Brevard County Utility Services Department Director Jim Helmer… said the new plant is needed to increase the capacity of the system… If the proposed new plant was in operation during and after Hurricane Irma last fall, Helmer believes that ‘we would have had no sewage discharges’ into the Indian River Lagoon… The proposed wastewater treatment plant would be able to handle 6 million gallons a day, which Helmer said ‘would be very helpful as a long-term solution to sewer issues in the South Beaches service area. Additional capacity would be available for population growth and septic-to-sewer conversions.’” Read Proposed $50M wastewater plant to reduce sewage going into lagoon could mean higher rates
Drew Martin writes for the Sun Sentinel – “Earth Day… [was] not a happy day for our Earth. Our Earth’s temperature is rising. The oceans are filling with plastic. We are ignoring our future. But while the Earth is having problems, we are removing many of our environmental regulations intended to protect the planet. We are reducing the size of lands set aside to protect the environment. We are rewriting and removing 100 years of environmental law. Many species are being driven to destruction.” Read Humanity’s negative impact on Earth impossible to ignore
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “A mysterious disease hammering Florida’s dwindling reefs was found for the first time this week in the Lower Keys, alarming scientists who’ve used epoxy band-aids, amputated sick coral and even set up underwater ‘fire breaks’ in a four-year battle to contain the outbreak.” Read Mystery disease spreads, threatens coral reefs in the Lower Florida Keys
BBC News reports – “As part of the (Paris) agreement, the US had pledged $3bn to the Green Climate Fund, set up by the UN to help countries deal with the effects of global warming. The money promised by Mr. Bloomberg does not aim to cover this, but the US contribution to the UN’s climate change secretariat. ‘America made a commitment and, as an American, if the government’s not going to do it then we all have a responsibility,’ Mr. Bloomberg said… ‘I’m able to do it. So, yes, I’m going to send them a cheque for the monies that America had promised to the organization as though they got it from the federal government.’ His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, offered $15m to cover a separate climate change shortfall last year. It said the money would go to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).” Read Climate change: Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5m for Paris deal
Karen Weintraub reports for the New York Times – “Sea turtles use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate back to the area where they were born decades earlier, according to a new study that used loggerhead genetics to investigate their travels… By using previously reported genetic information from more than 800 nesting Florida loggerheads, Dr. Lohmann and Mr. Brothers were able to show that there was more genetic similarity among turtles that nest on beaches with similar magnetic signatures than there was among turtles that nest on beaches that were physically close to each other.” Read Sea Turtles Use Magnetic Fields to Find Their Birthplace Beach
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Volusia County Manatee Program Associate – Contact Debbie Wingfield for info.
Upcoming Environmental Events
April 24 – June 23 – 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 25, 6:30 pm – Attend the Town Hall: Growth or Gridlock in Maitland. For more information, click here.
April 27-28 – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. For more information, click here.
May 1, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. May’s lecture is on “Springs Hydrogeology: Floridan Aquifer, Groundwater Recharge, Spring Flows” with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lecture are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 9369.
May 3, 6:30 pm – Watch Mac Stone’s TED talk on “the Amazing Everglades” at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Boulevard) in Spring Hill. After the TED Talk, Dr. Tom St. Clair will comment on Everglades ecology and restoration. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 277 – 3330.
May 9, 12:44 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Sierra Club Organizing Rep., will make a presentation entitled “Urban Fertilizers… Connections to Our Lawns, Landscape, and Florida’s Waters”. Shari Blissett-Clark, Pres. Of the FL Bat Conservancy, will make a presentation entitled “Bats in Florida’s Backyards.” For more information and to RSVP, email email@example.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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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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