Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “Florida voters would see 24 proposals rolled into 12 amendments on the November ballot under a preliminary proposal unanimously adopted by the Style and Drafting Committee of the powerful Constitution Revision Commission… The proposal was prepared by Commissioner Brecht Heuchan, chair of the committee, which has the power to decide which amendments get rewritten, which get merged with others, and which get weakened. The CRC has the unique authority to put amendments directly on the ballot if 22 members of the 37-member commission approve. Under the proposal tentatively agreed to…, here’s what voters would see: Proposal 91, which would ban oil and gas drilling in state-owned waters, would be merged with Proposal 65, which would add vaping to the indoor smoking ban… Each of the 24 ideas had been given preliminary approval by the full commission, but the grouping now needs 22 votes to make it to the November ballot… While some CRC members wanted all the proposals to stand on their own to avoid voter confusion, others argued they wanted them grouped to save voters’ time… The CRC has a May 10 deadline to complete its work. Ballot proposals will need support of 60 percent of the voters to become law.” Read Constitution panel proposes putting 24 ideas into 12 amendments on November ballot
Dan Scanlan reports for The Florida Times Union – “An 80-acre tract of wooded wetlands along the Ortega River has been acquired by North Florida Land Trust… The Lane Family Tract is now part of its Ortega River Preserve… The land’s purchase protects cypress swamp along the historic Ortega River, with one upland location now under consideration for a public kayak or canoe launch…” Read Ortega River wetlands site now part of North Florida Land Trust preservation efforts
James Hargrove reports for the Apalachicola & Carabelle Times – “The oyster bars, shell hash and sandy beaches of Franklin County provide habitat where several kinds of rare shorebirds build nests each year… Unfortunately for oystercatchers and other shorebirds, their nesting places are also frequented by beachcombers, fishermen and kayakers who arrive in March and April, just when the birds are attempting to build shallow scrapes where they can lay eggs and incubate their young… ‘From a bird’s perspective, people are perceived threats and dogs appear as four-legged predators like coyotes, raccoons, and foxes,’ [Bonnie Samuelson, shorebird project coordinator for Audubon Florida in the eastern Panhandle] said. ‘Oystercatchers are easily disturbed and flush off their nests. This leaves eggs and chicks vulnerable to weather conditions such as hot Florida sun or windblown sand covering their eggs. It also leaves the eggs and chicks vulnerable to opportunistic predators like gulls, crows and ghost crabs.’” Read Oystercatchers need room to nest
The University of Sussex reports for Science Daily – “The first definitive demonstration of climate change upsetting the vital interdependent relationships between species has been revealed, thanks to a study led by the University of Sessex. Research led by Prof Michael Hutchings… tracks how rising temperatures since the mid-17th century have wrecked a relationship, which relies on precision timing to succeed, between a rare orchid species and the Buffish Mining-bee which pollinates it. Prof Hutchings… said the climate is changing so rapidly that the early spider orchid cannot respond effectively, leaving the species, and probably many other plants with highly specialized pollination mechanisms, facing the threat of severe decline and possible extinction.” Read Climate change is wreaking havoc on delicate relationship between orchids and bees
David L. Chandler reports for MIT News – “Putting a price on carbon, in the form of a fee or tax on the use of fossil fuels, coupled with returning the generated revenue to the public in one form or another, can be an effective way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s one of the conclusions of an extensive analysis of several versions of such proposals, carried out by researchers at MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). What’s more, depending on the exact mechanism chosen, such a tax can also be fair and not hurt low-income households, the researchers report… [T]he most efficient way of achieving [emissions] reductions, in terms of overall impact on the economy, is to use the revenue to reduce taxes on capital – corporate profits or investment income… However, that option is also the most regressive, with its impact disproportionally falling on lower-income households. At the other extreme, the option of sending equal payments to everyone was found to be the least efficient for the overall economy, but also the least regressive. Individual tax breaks came in somewhere in between on both criteria. But the researchers say another scenario, combining the basic strategy of providing tax breaks to corporations but adding a rebate to the low-income families most affected by the tax, could virtually eliminate the regressive aspects of the tax at very little cost in overall efficiency, and thus might be the most appealing option. ‘It’s sort of an obvious solution,’ Reilly (MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change Co-Director) says, ‘to take some chunk of the money and use it to focus on the poorest households, and use the rest to cut taxes… It’s important to realize that this study was completed before the tax reform that took effect in January that slashed corporate income tax rates. Given that these tax rates have now been cut, and that those cuts will contribute to a growing deficit, we might better consider the revenue as a contribution to closing the deficit.’… Reilly says ‘all these tax scenarios at worst meet U.S. commitments for 2030, and the $50 tax is well exceeding it.’ Many experts say the Paris Agreement alone will not be sufficient to curb catastrophic consequences of global climate change, but this single measure would go a long way toward reducing the impact…” Read Carbon taxes could make significant dent in climate change, study finds
Steven Mufson and Chris Mooney report for The Washington Post – “A Dutch journalist has uncovered Royal Dutch Shell documents as old as 1988 that showed the oil company understood the gravity of climate change, the company’s large contribution to it and how hard it would be to stop it. The 1988 report titled “The Greenhouse Effect” calculated that the Shell group alone was contributing 4 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions through its oil, natural gas and coal products. ‘By the time global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation,’ the report warned… Shell’s working group knew three decades ago that climate change was real and formidable, warning that it would affect living standards and food supplies and have social, economic and political consequences… The documents contrast with Shell’s public stance on climate change during the 1990s, when the company was a member of the Global Climate Coalition. The industry raised doubts about the science of climate change and opposed the Kyoto Protocol, the global agreement reached in 1997 to fight climate change… Shell issued a statement in response to the publication of the report. ‘The Shell Group’s position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades. We strongly support the Paris Agreement… and the need for society to transition to a lower carbon future, while also extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone,’ the company said.” Read Shell foresaw climate dangers in 1988 and understood Big Oil’s big role
Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post – “Susan Combs, a former Texas state official who compared proposed endangered species listings to ‘incoming Scud missiles’ and continued to fight the Endangered Species Act after she left government, now has a role in overseeing federal wildlife policy. Combs was selected by Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke as acting secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. Zinke made the move after his bid to make her an assistant secretary for policy management and budget stalled in the Senate… Zinke has teamed with lawmakers in the House in a bid to strip the Endangered Species Act of much of its power. Several bills would remove the act’s provisions to save species from extinction regardless of the economic impact, rely on peer-reviewed scientific data and reward conservation organizations that successfully sue to protect animals by paying their court costs… As comptroller, [Combs] fought the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service repeatedly over its attempts to enforce the Endangered Species Act in [Texas].” Read A fierce opponent of the Endangered Species Act is picked to oversee Interior’s wildlife policy
Gregory Wallace reports for CNN Politics – “The White House is reviewing a proposal that environmentalists fear would remove protections for hundreds of threatened species… The proposal (“Removal of Blanket Section 4(d) Rule”) has not yet been publicly released… When naming a species as threatened, FWS decides whether to write specific protections for that species, or cover it with the blanket rule protections. About 70 species have specific rules, and 300 are covered by the blanket rule… FWS declined to say whether it would propose new protections if it lifts the blanket rule.” Read WH reviewing proposal that would roll back protections for threatened species
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 10, 6:30 pm – Attend “Every dollar you send into the world makes an impact” at the Bayview Senior Center (2000 East Lloyd St.) in Pensacola. Join impact investor Jacey Cosentino and investment advisor Lori Ptacek of Morgan Stanley to learn more about investing with impact. Impact investing refers to investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable and beneficial social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. For more information contact email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
April 19, 7:00 pm – Attend “Garden for Wildlife with Native Plants” in Tallahassee. David Mizejewski will focus on restoring wildlife habitat in our cities, towns and neighborhoods through the use of native plants. For more information, click here.
April 21, 4:00 pm – Participate in Hike for the Corridor 2018 in Gainesville. Participants will hike to show they want Florida’s land conservation programs fully funded and the Florida Wildlife Corridor protected. For more information, click here.
April 22, 2:00 pm – Participate in ELAPP’s Florida Wildlife Corridor Connection 9-Mile Hike in Plant City. For more information, click here.
April 23, 4:00 pm – Attend a viewing of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power at the Mary Esther Public Library (100 W Hollywood Blvd) in Mary Esther. For more information, click here.
April 27-28 – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. For more information, click here.
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 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
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