FCC News Brief - September 17, 2018

Read Green group backs Gillum in Florida governor race- “ The nation’s largest environmental group endorsed Democrat Andrew Gillum in his race to become Florida’s governor. The Sierra Club backed the progressive Tallahassee mayor days after the Republican in the race, former congressman Ron DeSantis, released an environmental plan that the group panned as inadequate. Sierra Club slammed DeSantis's plan for not mentioning climate change, and said it was inadequate in areas like stopping offshore drilling near Florida and tackling the state's toxic algae problem. ‘Gillum established a strong track record of environmental protection while Mayor of Tallahassee,’ Frank Jackalone, director of the Sierra Club’s Florida chapter, said in a statement…On climate, Gillum wants to move the state to clean energy as quickly as possible and has criticized numerous environmental policy moves by President Trump, such as his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Florida is uniquely impacted by climate change and other environmental problems, owing to its long coastline and low elevation, among other factors. DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times this week that he is a ‘Teddy Roosevelt-style’ conservationist, and criticized left-wing environmental policies…” Timothy Cama reports for The Hill.

Read Lake O southern reservoir passes U.S. House, will reduce estuary discharges - “The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill today that includes the authorization for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful discharges to the northern estuaries. The bill, called the Water Resources Development Act, still faces Senate approval. But advocates say they are hopeful a favorable Senate vote may happen this month because the language in Thursday’s bill was a compromise agreed to by House and Senate committee members. The bill is also known as America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. ‘This is good news for America’s Everglades,’ said Celeste De Palma, director of Everglades policy at Audubon Florida. ‘Thousands of Audubon supporters urged Congress and the White House to advance the Everglades Agricultural Reservoir in the last few months.’ The $1.4 billion project slated for state-owned land in western Palm Beach County is a partial answer to activists’ calls to ‘send the water south’ and could alleviate the blue-green algae blooms that have plagued the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. If approved by the end of the year, the plan for the 10,500-acre above-ground reservoir and 6,500-acre stormwater treatment area will seek money from the 2020 federal budget. Depending on how the money is distributed for the project — the state and federal government are expected to split the cost — the reservoir could take about 10 years to build…” Staff report from the Palm Beach Post.

Read Phosphate giant Mosaic agrees to pay nearly $2 billion over mishandling of hazardous waste - “Mosaic Fertilizer, the world's largest phosphate mining company, has agreed to pay nearly $2 billion to settle a federal lawsuit over hazardous waste and to clean up operations at six Florida sites and two in Louisiana, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday. ‘The 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste addressed in this case is the largest amount ever covered by a federal or state . . . settlement and will ensure that wastewater at Mosaic's facilities is properly managed and does not pose a threat to groundwater resources,’ the EPA said. The EPA had accused Mosaic of improper storage and disposal of waste from the production of phosphoric and sulfuric acids, key components of fertilizers, at Mosaic's facilities in Bartow, New Wales, Mulberry, Riverview, South Pierce and Green Bay in Florida, as well as two sites in Louisiana. The EPA said it had discovered Mosaic employees were mixing highly corrosive substances from its fertilizer operations with the solid waste and wastewater from mineral processing, in violation of federal and state hazardous waste laws. Mosaic CEO Joc O'Rourke said the company is ‘pleased to be bringing this matter to a close’ and pledged to be a good environmental steward. The Minnesota-based company was formed in 2004 by a merger of IMC Global with the crop nutrition division of Cargill. Mosaic officials in Florida said the EPA investigation and negotiations for a settlement have been going on for eight years over practices that everyone in the phosphate industry was doing as well. The settlement with the EPA, the Justice Department, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will have no impact on Mosaic's continued employment or on its future mining expansion plans in DeSoto, Hardee and Manatee counties, they said…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Red tide brings red ink: losses in the millions - “The trickle-down effect of the blue-green algae and red tide events has moved through Southwest Florida businesses just as water releases have moved down the Caloosahatchee. Both have left significant harm in their wake, with financial losses following the devastating environmental fallout. On Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach, the economic impact has been drastic with the two losing nearly $41 million combined in the last two months. A survey conducted by the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce shows eye-opening statistics and staggering losses. In July and August, the island economy incurred a total estimated loss of $19.1 million in lost revenue, with a 41.2 percent decline in August alone. Hotels, resorts and vacation rental companies were asked if the current water quality has negatively impacted their business and all 42 businesses surveyed said yes… Environmental conditions on Fort Myers Beach have immensely improved, according to President of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Jacki Liszak, but not before impacting the local economy. She said things were rolling along better than ever in July, with many restaurants and hotels reporting record numbers-but then things took a nose dive in August. The Fort Myers Beach Chamber conducted a survey from July 27- Sept. 14. For businesses, a total of $24,477,607 was estimated to be lost in that time due to the beach being a ‘ghost town’ after a severe red tide outbreak washed dead fish onto white sands, accompanied by a foul smell…” CJ Haddad reports for the Fort Myers Beach Observer.

Read As seas rise, Americans use nature to fight worsening erosion - “Centuries of dredging, diking and development have replaced wetlands throughout the U.S. with more than 10,000 miles of rocks, concrete and metal. For every seven miles of coastline in the Lower 48, scientists in North Carolina calculated that about one mile is hardened with a seawall, bulkhead or other hard structure to protect land and property. Rising costs from flooding and erosion are prompting Americans, military bases and government agencies to opt for more natural alternatives. State and federal governments are changing permitting rules and taking other steps to encourage the switch, which can improve water quality, support fisheries and protect against storms and rising seas. After marsh grasses were planted to reduce erosion at the Needle Rush Point condominium community, which fronts both sides of Perdido Key in Pensacola, residents began seeing more wildlife... Since permitting rules on living shorelines were eased a little more than a year ago, 34 small living shorelines, typically under 500 feet, have been approved or built in Florida, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers figures, with the Destin area east of Pensacola emerging as a hotspot. That’s more than half of the 60 approvals issued nationwide during the same period; the rest were farther west on the Gulf Coast or north along the East Coast, including 13 in the Norfolk area...The rising popularity of living shorelines in Northwestern Florida is credited in part to a large restoration project in downtown Pensacola — Project GreenShores. The first phase, completed in 2003, involved the restoration of eight acres of salt marsh and seagrass and seven acres of oyster reef. One year later, it protected a section of roadway from the effects of Hurricane Ivan. By being ‘visible and tangible,’ Project GreenShores has inspired others to take similar approaches, said Darryl Boudreau, a watershed coordinator for the Nature Conservancy in Pensacola….Research by Gittman, an East Carolina University ecologist, has shown homeowners overestimate the effectiveness of seawalls and bulkheads and underestimate living shorelines. As homeowners begin installing living shorelines, the idea can spread — in much the same way that solar panels can become popular in a neighborhood after they’re installed by one or two homeowners. With so much coastal property in private hands, Gittman sees sweeping potential for coastal conservation gains if living shorelines catch on among property owners. ‘People pay attention to what their neighbors do,’ she said. ‘The individual actions of property owners can add up.’ John Upton reports for Climate Central.

Read When will Red Tide on Florida’s west coast go away? It’s anyone’s guess- “Now that Red Tide has reached Pinellas County’s popular beaches, chasing away tourists and depositing tons of dead marine life, the big question is when it will end. The short, unsatisfying answer, 10 months after the current bloom cropped up off the Southwest Florida coast, is no one can predict when it will break apart and float away. ‘It’s certainly something we’d like to know about,’ said Vincent Lovko, a scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. Humans have little control over when Red Tide stops or starts. But, there are three ways that waterfront hotels, restaurants and property owners could finally get some relief from the noxious fumes, say scientists. Problem is, none of them are happening now. The way the current bloom reacted to Tropical Storm Gordon last month offers a clue about the first solution. The storm’s winds pushed it away from land for a while, lessening the effects and making people feel like things were getting back to normal. ‘Sustained winds can push a bloom offshore, and then that’s when it can disappear,’ said Kate Hubbard, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Institute in St. Petersburg. he second thing to root for is for the algae bloom to end itself, said Edward J. Phlips, an aquatic sciences professor at the University of Florida. To keep growing, a Red Tide algae bloom needs a steady flow of nutrients, not unlike a crop that requires repeated fertilization. That’s why a Red Tide bloom, which starts up to 40 miles offshore, can be prolonged when it moves inshore and is fueled by leaky septic tanks and sewage systems, as well as fertilizer in stormwater runoff. But if the bloom reaches a certain density, Phlips said, it could pass the point where there are enough nutrients to keep it going ‘and then it collapses.’ Scientists are doing research now on a similar phenomenon known as "programmed cell death," Hubbard said. Something happens within the cells of the algae themselves that trips a sequence of events that kills the whole bloom. So far scientists have been unable to pinpoint just what sets off the sequence, but if found that could be the key to ending blooms like the one going on now. Finally, algae blooms do have predators…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Just a few pieces of plastic can kill sea turtles - “All over the world, sea turtles are swallowing bits of plastic floating in the ocean, mistaking them for tasty jellyfish, or just unable to avoid the debris that surrounds them. Now, a new study out of Australia is trying to catalog the damage. While some sea turtles have been found to have swallowed hundreds of bits of plastic, just 14 pieces significantly increases their risk of death, according to the study, published Thursday in Scientific Reports. Young sea turtles are most vulnerable, the study found, because they drift with currents where the floating debris also accumulate, and because  they are less choosy than adults about what they will eat...Six of the seven species of sea turtles are considered threatened, although many populations are recovering. The study examined data from two sets of Australian sea turtles: necropsies of 246 animals and 706 records from a national strandings database. Both showed animals that died for reasons unrelated to eating plastic had less plastic in their guts than those that died of unknown causes or direct ingestion...Dr. Lynch, research biologist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Hawaii, does agree that sea turtles are eating too much plastic. ‘We have to get this pollutant under control if we don’t want to kill half of our sea turtles.’ The vast majority of plastic off Hawaii, she said, comes from the international fishing industry, which is prohibited from dumping its old fishing lines and crates overboard, but often does it anyway — and faces no consequences. ‘Teeth is what’s needed,’ Dr. Lynch said. Dr. Hardesty said she thinks it’s possible to reduce the turtles’ exposure to plastic with a variety of approaches, from incentives to bans for high-impact, frequently littered items. ‘The stuff that ends up in the ocean was in somebody’s hand at some point in time,’ she said…” Karen Weintraub reports for the New York Times.

Read How environmental justice is shaping a new civil rights movement in the South- “When she was a teenager in 1967, Katherine Egland was one of a dozen students to integrate the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, public school system. As a member of the NAACP youth program, she spent her childhood afternoons with civil rights titans Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. Decades later, a TV reporter asked Egland if she was afraid to be outspoken against powerful groups. She laughed and said, ‘I grew up with the Ku Klux Klan. I grew up with bomb threats. This was daily.’ By that point, Egland, a chairperson of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice program, was fighting another kind of backyard terror, what she calls ‘the biggest civil rights crisis’ in the South: climate change...She held town hall-style education and listening sessions and began advocating for safer practices from the energy companies that rule the economy along the South’s coastline. Rallying her neighbors on environmental issues, Egland said, began with overcoming the stereotype that environmentalism was a ‘white thing.’ She started hosting ‘Climate Change 101’ in church halls and community centers, educating folks about the connections among carbon emissions, stronger storms, rising sea levels, overburdened infrastructure, and the spread of disease, and how all of those problems perpetuate deep-rooted cycles of racism and poverty in the South. The connections Egland has been making with climate change are increasingly important as erratic weather patterns, warming temperatures and flooding have exacerbated the resurgence of tropical diseases like hookworm in Alabama’s Black Belt region, where soil conditions and failing wastewater infrastructure have left vulnerable communities to contend with a public health crisis.  Longtime organizers say officials with the power to address these problems effectively have lacked the necessary political will because there’s no money or glory in solving problems for people who are poor. Last October, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Environmental Justice Act of 2017, a long-shot effort that failed to pass. Policies that do progress are slow-moving: In July, the Senate passed a Farm Bill, co-sponsored by Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, which would grant up to $15,000 per household for families in rural communities where sewage is decentralized. But community leaders like Egland aren’t waiting for top-down climate policy solutions. Instead, they’re taking justice into their own hands in the way Southerners always have: through hard-fought community organizing in churches, schools, and homes, and through relentless pushback against the exploitative industries that this region is, by design, so reliant on…” Katherine Webb-Hehn reports for the Montgomery Advertiser.


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Upcoming Environmental Events

September 17, 6:00 pm - Earth Ethics presents #Don'tSuck short film (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics at Pensacola's Downtown Library, 239 N Spring Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for the viewing of a short video on straws and their impacts. Join the #Don’tSuck movement to get straws the heck out of here! Learn how you can help as an individual, get restaurants and stores motivated to kick the straw habit. Be prepared to be part of the social media blitz. Let us know if you plan to join us. Get your ticket by visiting the EventBrite link here , and for more information visit the Facebook page here.  

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.

September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

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 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here

October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 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 (7 AICP CM #221015), Certified Foodplain Managers, and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.

October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop:  Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas?  A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County.  This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart.  Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch.  Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.   We hope you’ll join us!  Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/

October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.

November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar:  This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company.  This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.

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

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