Martin E. Comas reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Residents of the rural eastern outskirts of Seminole County are alarmed by a developer’s proposal to build a community of hundreds of new homes and apartments near the environmentally sensitive Econlockhatchee River – just a month after a similar effort failed in the Legislature. According to preliminary plans submitted by former state Rep. Chris Dorworth, the so-called River Cross mixed-use development would be spread across nearly 700 acres of pastureland… It would include 520 single-family homes, 270 townhouses, 500 apartments and 80 estate homes, along with 1.5 million square feet of shops, restaurants and office space. The proposal would require a change to the county’s rural protection area… In 2004, Seminole voters approved a ballot measure that established a strict rural boundary mostly east of the Econlockhatchee River, Oviedo and Lake Jesup… A majority – three – of Seminole commissioners would have to approve removing a property from the rural boundary.” Read Seminole residents alarmed by re-emergence of plan to build hundreds of homes in rural area
The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board writes – “Hillsborough County commissioners approved a land-use change clearing the way for new residential sprawl in east county… Commissioners voted 5-2 to allow 131 new homes on 164 acres of rural property off Lithia Pinecrest Road… The property owner said he bought the land as an investment and hadn’t been made aware the county lowered the allowable number of homes on the site over time… [T]he government modifies land uses all the time. The county did nothing wrong nor concealed the changes taking place. And it’s not the government’s job to ensure that land speculators make a profit. The county’s professional planning staff recommended the application for the new development be denied, calling it ‘inconsistent’ with long-range growth plans. County staff and the public raised concerns over traffic, schools and public safety, impacts to wetlands and wildlife, - and the burden of future public infrastructure… Yet the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission… overruled the staff, clearing the way for the decision… that allows a fourfold increase in residential housing on what’s now pasture… These decisions will change only when voters make sprawl more of a political issue, and once they connect the value of rural lands to the local ecosystem and the county’s quality of life.” Read Hillsborough should limit sprawl, not encourage it
David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “A South Florida family seeking oil wealth in the Everglades accused the state of ignoring the law in rejecting their application for an exploratory well in western Broward County… In their brief, the Kanters say DEP doesn’t have unlimited discretion to reject a permit but must follow the law. In this case, they said, the department was not allowed to raise purported facts not already brought into evidence in the previous court case, such as a blanket policy against any drilling in the Everglades. And, they said, the state ignored drilling that has been taking place for years in the Everglades with state permits at nearby Big Cypress National Preserve. They say the permit application met all the conditions set out in the law – such as extensive safety standards and the likely presence of oil on the land – and they point out that a state administrative law judge had recommended approval… But Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, one of the leaders of the fight against the drilling plan, said the state was simply following its explicit legal obligation to consider the ‘nature, character and location’ of the land for which drilling is proposed. ‘They’re allowed to look at the sensitivity of the land and the wildlife,’ he said.” Read Florida ignored law in rejecting oil well in Everglades, lawyers for landowners say
Josh Soloman reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay… Yet officials also have in their possession a report that reached a different conclusion…” Read St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.
Bob Rackleff writes for the Panama City News Herald – “Exhaustive reviews… found lax federal regulatory oversight and negligence by BP Oil and its partners. Learning from that, we created a new safety agency (BSEE)… and new safety regulations – adopted in 2016 after an exhaustive process that involved industry experts, safety regulators and scientists… Largely unnoticed, the industry is shredding these new safety regulations in the name of ‘reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens’ and asserting America’s ‘energy dominance.’ Now headed by an industry ally, Scott Angelle, the BSEE last year suspended the requirement that independent firms operating in shallow waters post bonds to pay for removal of abandoned rigs. We taxpayers will pay the inevitable cleanup costs. In December, Angelle stopped a study of offshore oil operations inspection programs by the National Academies of Sciences… But the greater danger lies in changes BSEE has proposed in the 2016 production safety systems regulations… All of this comprises a wholesale rejection of the lessons taught us by he Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.” Read Still not ‘safe’ from the oil industry
The News Service of Florida reports – “Lantana Democrat Lori Berman’s special election victory for a Palm Beach County Senate district, which moved her up from the Florida House, was quickly certified Tuesday.” Read Meet the Florida Senate’s newest member: Lori Berman
Elizabeth Weise reports for USA Today – “Every time you save a photo to the cloud, buy something on Amazon, open a Google doc or stream a movie, you’re probably pulling electricity from a wind turbine in Texas or a solar farm in Virginia. In fact, your clicks and taps may have helped build them. Since 2008, renewable energy has gone from 9 percent to 18 percent of the U.S. energy mix, according to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. A big part of that shift stems from tech companies’ rapid buildout of cloud storage centers and a move to burnish their public image by vowing they’ll run these centers on sources like wind and solar… Last year, the top four corporate users of renewable energy in the world were Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple… Google announced… that as of 2017, all its facilities and data centers were running on 100 percent renewable electricity… There’s also a trickle-down effect. Big tech companies are pushing their suppliers to go green. Apple… says nearly two dozen of its suppliers – such as manufacturers of batteries, keyboards and lenses – have also made a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.” Read Tech firms push utilities toward solar and wind
James Temple reports for MIT Technology Review – “At current rates of greenhouse-gas emissions, the world could lock in 1.5 degrees C of warming as soon as 2021, an analysis by the website Carbon Brief has found. We’re on track to blow the carbon budget for 2 degrees C by 2036. Amid this daunting climate math, many researchers argue that capturing carbon dioxide from power plants, factories, and the air will have to play a big part in any realistic efforts to limit the dangers of global warming. If it can be done economically, carbon capture and storage (CCS) offers the world additional flexibility and time to make the leap to cleaner systems.” Read The daunting math of climate change means we’ll need carbon capture
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
April 27-28 – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. For more information, click here.
April 27 – 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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 11, 8:30 am – Attend the Save Our Water 2018 summit in Bonita Springs. For more information, click here.
May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
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