FCC News Brief - September 5, 2018

Read Amendment 9: Prohibits offshore oil and gas drilling; prohibits vaping in enclosed indoor workspaces - “Amendment 9 seeks to ban the exploration or extraction of oil or natural gas in Florida’s state waters. It would also prohibit electronic smoking and vaping in all areas where traditional smoking is already constitutionally prohibited. This amendment applies to the beaches and waters 10 miles off Florida’s Gulf coast and three miles off Florida’s Atlantic coast. “No exploration” includes no loud underwater seismic testing that causes both beaching and death to dolphins and whales.  Amendment 9 will also update Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act, first enacted in 1985. The act banned smoking in certain public places. In spite of this act, the effects of second-hand smoke remained. Floridians responded in 2002 by organizing a Citizen’s Initiative that led to a constitutional amendment banning smoking in public workplaces, restaurants, and indoor areas. This amendment was passed by more than 70 percent of Floridians. But, today, new smoking technology has emerged. This technology has many names including vaping, e-cigarettes, vape pens, vape mods, and e-hookah. All of these various smoking methods emerged after the adoption of the 2002 constitutional amendment. Nearly 40 states have banned electronic smoking in public places.5 Currently, Floridians are constitutionally protected from traditional tobacco smoke but not this new smoking technology. Health organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, support Amendment 9, which is intended to ensure that Floridians and those visiting our state will be afforded a true smoke-free environment.” Lisa Carlton and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch write for the Florida Bar Journal, p. 18. The September/October edition of the Florida Bar Journal features articles from members of the 2017-2018 Constitution Revision Commission. ‘The goal of this feature in the Journal is to help members better understand each proposal to amend the Florida Constitution.’

Read State of Florida seeks private partnerships for Gopher Tortoise conservation - “According to the U.S. census in 2010, the population in Hernando County was estimated at 172,000 and seven years later that number rose to 186,000. The rise of the population means more land development which in turn means more wildlife habitat lost especially for one particular species that holds an extremely valuable place in our ecosystem: The Florida Gopher Tortoise. What is so important about the Gopher Tortoise? This 30-pound reptile is just one of the most important species in the state of Florida because its home provides a refuge for hundreds of other wildlife species such as the threatened eastern indigo snake.  Gopher tortoises are a threatened species as well and are protected under the state law, Chapter 68A-27 of the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) and may in the future be listed under the Endangered Species Act. When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It further expressed concern that many of our nation’s native plants and wildlife were in danger of becoming extinct. The gopher tortoise thrives in longleaf pine, oak sand hill habitats as well as pastures, prairies, scrub and coastal grasslands. The gopher tortoise is given its name because of the 10 to 40 foot underground tunnel they dig called a burrow. These burrows can retain a consistent temperature and humidity levels year-round which provides protection during the Florida’s summer heat, droughts and fire…’They have good reason to be protected they are an important species biologically for our environment. People can live in harmony with the species they [the public] just need the education on how to,’ Officer Tyer said. ‘It’s the initiative of the homeowners, residents and businesses of Florida to take it upon themselves to look at the material we have available.’ ‘The most important thing for the public to know is that the gopher tortoise is a keystone species that hundreds of animals rely on. It’s important to appreciate them and do what you can to conserve them. And if you are doing any type of development which includes small scaled development, to apply for the proper permits,’  Kalfin said…” Alice Mary Herden reports for the Hernando Sun.

Read Help protect a law that protects species - “We recently took time to visit U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s staff to let them know we support the Endangered Species Act and how important it is to Florida, especially for iconic species like the Florida panther, manatees, scrub jays, key deer, black bear and gopher tortoises whose burrows provide shelter for more than 350 other critters. The Endangered Species Act is a safety net for wildlife, fish and plants on the brink of extinction. Since it was signed into law in 1973, hundreds of species have been saved and many more are on their way to recovery. But now, some members of Congress and the Trump administration are trying to weaken the ESA to benefit developers and the oil, gas and mining industries. The proposed policies would undermine science and make it harder to protect important habitat for imperiled fish and wildlife. No wild, no wildlife! We have a responsibility to future generations to be good stewards and protect endangered species and the habitats that support them. And don’t forget the massive financial contribution these plants and animals make to our tourism-based economy. Please contact Sens. Rubio and Nelson and urge them to oppose efforts to weaken the Endangered Species Act and the species it protects.” Marian and John Ryan write for the Herald Tribune.

Read From rooftops to algae pools: Orlando’s vision for carbon-free energy - “This city has long been a leading tourist destination. Now, it is vying for another distinction: to be a pioneer in weaning itself from carbon-based energy. You can see its aspirations in the thousands of ponds all over the city that collect the runoff from Central Florida’s frequent downpours. Floating solar panels rise and fall in the water, sending power to the grid. There is also evidence along city streets, where solar panels sit atop streetlights to power them instead of using the electric grid. About 18,000 of the 25,000 in the city already have been converted to high-efficiency light-emitting diodes. Even algae pools may play a role. That’s where officials are testing a system to trap the carbon that the city emits from power plants or transportation, rather than release it into the atmosphere. Orlando, in short, is charting its own course to help curb the effects of climate change. In part, it is stepping in where the federal government has pulled back. It is among almost 300 American cities and counties that have reaffirmed the goals of the Paris climate accord since President Trump announced last year that he intended to withdraw the United States from the pact…” Ivan Penn reports for the New York Times.

Read The battle for the soul of biodiversity- “Bob Watson helms the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a younger sibling to the Nobel-prizewinning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Both have immense tasks. The biodiversity panel has been tasked to focus on the epic disappearance of plant and animal populations...whereas the elder IPCC has largely unified the scientific community and has had considerable international policy success, the six-year-old biodiversity panel has not yet been able to exert anything like the same degree of influence. Moreover, the scientific community it represents is a house divided. The world of biodiversity research is like an extended family that has split into feuding factions. Scientists from less-prosperous southern countries have squared off against colleagues from the wealthier north, and researchers from more empirical disciplines are arguing with those from humanities and the social sciences. The issues underlying the rift reflect broader debates in science about traditional power structures and increasing access for underrepresented groups, as well as opposition to dominant economic systems. Until now, scientists and conservationists from developed countries have largely led efforts to study and assess species decline. But the decision-making levers within IPBES are now in the hands of scientists who say that conservation efforts need more input from developing countries, from researchers in the humanities and other non-empirical disciplines, and also from non-academics—such as farmers, citizen scientists and indigenous peoples…” Ehsan Masood writes for Scientific American.

Read Rep. Brian Mast introduces legislation to prioritize public health for water management practices- “U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-District 18, introduced legislation Tuesday to revise the prioritization system for how the Army Corps of Engineers manages Lake Okeechobee. The bill would make public health and safety a priority. ‘These discharges affect the health and safety of every person out here,’ the congressman said. Currently lake levels are kept higher during dry months for irrigation and recreation. That forces the Corps to release water during the rainy months to prevent the threat of flooding. Mast said the proposed prioritization system would urge the Corps to keep lake levels low during the dry season. The legislation will be introduced Tuesday night. Mast said he will speak with other Florida legislators to try and garner their support. Lauren Baer, Democratic candidate for Congress in Florida’s 18th District, released the following statement in response to the legislation: ‘Brian Mast’s response to the Treasure Coast’s water crisis is too little, too late. In 2016, the year Mast was elected, toxic algae covered 200 square miles of Lake Okeechobee. Yet it took Mast more than 19 months to file any sort of legislation prioritizing the health and safety of the people who live and work on the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. Mast has watched in silence as the EPA has rolled back protections on our water, and repeatedly voted for special interest backed legislation that favors polluters over his own constituents. Only now, at a politically expedient time just 62 days before an election, has Mast started to take seriously our community’s largest environmental and economic crisis. If we are ever going to prevent algae crises from destroying our ecosystem and economy, we need to do more than pass a half-measure bill on discharges: we must put hard limits on pollutants entering our water, hold big sugar accountable, fully authorize and fund the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Act, restore the flow of water south to the Everglades, and take meaningful action to stop climate change.” Tori Simkovic reports for WPBF News

Read DOT abandoning Coastal Connector toll road that upset Marion County horse farmers - “The Florida Department of Transportation announced Friday that it has decided to kill off a controversial toll road called the Coastal Connector that had Marion County horse farmers and others in that region in an uproar. The highway was proposed to link Interstate 75 to the Suncoast 2, or the planned extension of the Suncoast Parkway. Instead, Dew said his agency will ‘step back and focus on improvements to I-75.’ In June, after controversy erupted over the routes proposed for the highway, Dew had said the DOT would merely postpone work on the Coastal Connector. Abandoning it is a far more radical step, and an unusual one for the department that under Gov. Rick Scott has focused on building or expanding more toll roads than regular ones. An organization representing the horse farmers, known as Horse Farms Forever, said in a news release that its members were ‘elated’ to hear about the Dew letter. The Coastal Connector controversy grew out of a desire to alleviate traffic on perpetually clogged I-75 through Central Florida... ‘When the Coastal Connector was announced … we all woke up and were shocked to learn the FDOT had planned a toll road right through the heart of Marion’s horse community,’ Bernard Little, who with his wife owns a 550-acre farm called Horsefeathers, said in June. ‘It would devastate the equine industry.’ The owners of stables and breeding farms in that area banded together to fight it, drawing support from local and state officials, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times

Read Unusual marine mammal event prompts federal agency to open investigation over red tide dolphin deaths - “ A federal agency is investigating two unusual marine mammal events, and one of those is dolphins dying due to a toxic red tide bloom in Southwest Florida.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday announced the events, which also includes elevated strandings of harbor and gray seals in the Northeast.  'There’s been elevated bottlenose strandings, which began in July of 2018,’ said Teri Rowles, a NOAA scientist. ‘Currently as of this morning we have 49 stranded bottlenose dolphins and 48 of those were dead and the one was stranded live and that animals is in rehabilitation.’  Those numbers were recorded from July 1 through Aug. 30, Rowles said. The area under investigation stretches from Pinellas to Collier. 'This is well above the historic average for this time frame for this geographic area of eight bottlenose dolphins,’ Rowles said. Rowles said NOAA took samples from 10 of the dolphins, and all tested positive for red tide toxins.” Chad Gillis reports for the Fort Myers News Press.


 


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Job Openings

Florida Springs Council Executive Director

Organizing Representative for Sierra Club Florida’s Clean Energy for All Campaign

Upcoming Environmental Events

September 8, 5:00pmRise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice: The 350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast Chapter are rallying against dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and in support of clean energy, for new jobs in the clean energy economy, and for a just transition ensuring all have access to the power and hope of clean energy. At the Plaza de Luna, 900 S Palafox St, Pensacola, there will be live music, local speakers, and a path for climate action. Here in Pensacola we are pushing to see our community act on the recommendations from the City's climate task force and to transition to 100% renewable energy. For more information, see the Facebook event link here or email 350pensacola@gmail.com .

September 12, 6:00pm350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast present 'The Burden'- The Burden is  an epic film about the struggle of the US military to provide energy to its troops in battle--and the sometimes tragic consequences of that struggle. It's also about the amazing clean energy innovations the military is advancing, helping to save lives on the battlefield and moving our nation toward its inevitable future of clean energy. Following the film we will host a discussion about the military's role in advancing clean energy. The presentation is part of a monthly speaker series on climate change, and is co sponsored by 350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast chapter. For more information, email 350pensacola@gmail.com .

September 19, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. – FREE Trouble in Paradise Webinar:  This project was spearheaded by the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed to educate candidates for office and citizens on key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them.  Attend this free webinar to learn more and gain insights on how to advocate for change.  Trouble in Paradise was produced by 1000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida. The webinar has been approved for professional certification credits for planners, Florida attorneys, and certified environmental health professionals.  The full report and registration information are available at http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/

September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (High Springs): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.

October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information.  Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL  32055

October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:15 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop:   What does the future hold for Palm Beach County?  Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands?  Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement.  What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County?   This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach.  The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (AICP CM #221015) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Rezoning 5-acres in Palm Harbor

Another Gulf is Possible

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

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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

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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