Coral Davenport reports for the New York Times - “The departure of Scott Pruitt, the scandal-plagued former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, means that the agency will be led in the coming months by Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt’s zeal to undo environmental regulations. But unlike Mr. Pruitt — who had come to Washington as an outsider and aspiring politician, only to get caught up in a swirl of controversy over his costly first-class travel and security spending — Mr. Wheeler is viewed as a consummate Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules...Mr. Wheeler has worked in Washington for more than 20 years. He is a former chief of staff to Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the conservative Republican who has become known as Washington’s most prominent denialist of the established science of human-caused climate change…” Read How Andrew Wheeler, the new acting EPA chief, differs from Scott Pruitt.
Ed Killer writes for Treasure Coast Newspaper - “...The blue-green algae has taken over Lake Okeechobee. It has eaten it alive. Literally. Right now, almost all of the lake’s 730 square miles are smothered by it. In some place, it drifts in windrows. In others, it clings to shorelines and islands of bulrushes and spike rush and Kissimmee grass. Pahokee Marina is clogged with it, although officials won’t let anyone near it. The algae also is covering some 70 miles of the Caloosahatchee River watershed and is clearly visible in the St. Lucie Canal — the C-44, as water managers call it. There is 27 miles of algae from Port Mayaca to the St. Lucie Lock and Dam out in Tropical Farms...The Army Corps of Engineers plans to crack open the floodgates at Port Mayaca Monday. While the gates have been closed for the past nine days, the welcome but brief break is almost over. The Corps will proceed with its plan to again begin lowering the level of the water in Lake Okeechobee, regardless of what's floating on it or in it...The big farce is lowering Lake Okeechobee is all in the name of public safety. I guess it depends on which public the Army Corps considers it is keeping safe.That has been the biggest problem for the past 80-plus years. This system of lopsided water management has favored one populous over another like two ends of a sick, twisted seesaw.The Glades communities benefit from dry feet and security the Herbert Hoover Dike will not coming crashing down in a tidal wave of dirty water. Meanwhile, the coastal estuaries, and all the businesses and livelihoods tied to clean water, get dumped on to try to survive in a flood of toxic water and now — for the third time since 2013, and fourth time in 13 years — toxic algae, too…” Read Brace for Toxic Tsunami when Lake Okeechobee discharges resume Monday.
Jacob Ogles reports for Florida Politics - “U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio today called on President Donald Trump to stop discharges into the St. Lucie River that are planned to start tomorrow. The Miami Republican also called on the Army Corps of Engineers to re-evaluate water flows from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River…. ‘I respectfully urge you to use your authority to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately include the impacts of harmful algal blooms and poor water quality on downstream communities and ecosystems as a major factor for consideration when planning and conducting Lake Okeechobee discharges,’ Rubio wrote in a letter to Trump…” Read Marco Rubio calls on Donald Trump to reconsider Lake O discharges.
Jim Turner reports for the Orlando Sentinel - “As calls for state action to deal with toxic algae blooms in southern Florida, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that funding is in place to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee. The Army Corps’ Jacksonville office said Thursday that $514.2 million is heading toward repair of the dike, which is basically a 30-foot-high earthen structure that surrounds the lake. An overall $17.4 billion in funding for the Corps includes additional money for beach restoration and coastal flood control in Florida...The dike money has become a political issue as Scott challenges U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-FLa., in November…” Read Herbert Hoover Dike repairs get $514.2 million boost in federal funding.
Amy Green reporting for Naples Daily News - “While Florida state leaders ban the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ in official business, this coastal fishing village of about 500 people and more water than dry land is being swallowed by the sea. But town officials here are fighting back with some success. Every few minutes a tide gauge takes another measure of the dramatic change facing Yankeetown, situated near Florida Peninsula’s northwest corner, where the Withlacoochee River flows 141 miles north from Central Florida’s Green Swamp into the Gulf of Mexico...The data shows the sea level here is rising 7 inches per century, about the global rate, and the rate is accelerating.The signs of change are visible everywhere, most notably in what climate scientists describe as "ghost forests," the bony remains of inundated forest islands that 30 years ago were lush with cabbage palms and red cedars. In some places, the grassy black needlerush of the salt marsh almost completely shrouds the old tree stumps..” Read Tiny Florida town tries to adapt to climate change as state leaders doubt warming impact.Craig Pittman in Opinion for Tampa Bay Times - “Sometimes living in Florida can seem like we’re trapped in some bizarre science fiction scenario. We’ve got alligators wrestling with pythons, iguanas popping up in our toilets, bone-rattling bolts of lightning zapping from the sky, the earth collapsing to create massive sinkholes- and hey, don’t forget that there’s something that looks like a flying saucer sitting atop a strip club in Tampa...Here’s the part that reminded me of LeGuin’s dreamer: A lot of the people who flooded into Florida like the eels swarming the highway had dreams of altering this place for the better. Instead, their pursuit of those dreams just messed it up, over and over. Building the Tamiami Trail, for instance, allowed easier access from one side of the state to the other, but it also dammed the flow of water into the Everglades. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is spending millions of taxpayer dollars raising it up so the River of Grass can flow unimpeded…” Read Dreams of a new Florida damaged the original, but maybe it’s not too late to restore it.
Jaeson Clayborn in Opinion for Miami-Herald - “Since 1984, Miami-Dade County has espoused multiple protections for rare habitats and endangered species in its ordinances and policies. Now, the county has the opportunity to make good on these intentions by 1) disallowing the destruction of critical habitat for a public school and a connector road to the school and 2) ending negotiations to lease a large portion of county-owned, environmentally sensitive lands for a large-scale amusement park. These combined actions will save over 145 acres of precious pine rockland habitat. This opportunity lies in the Richmond Pine Rocklands, the largest remaining tract of globally imperiled pine rockland habitat, unique to Miami-Dade and parts of the Keys. Less than 2 percent of this habitat remains outside of Everglades National Park. The Richmond Pine Rocklands harbor more than 15 endemic plant species found nowhere else in the world, two federally endangered insect species, one federally endangered mammal and many other unique organisms…”-Read Miami-Dade Commission should not betray our environmental legacy by destroying pine rocklands.
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Upcoming Environmental Events
July 11, 6:00 pm – Attend River Rising: Town Hall Series in Jacksonville to learn about rising waters in the St. Johns, how decades of dredging has increased water levels and storm surge, and what Jacksonville and coastal communities need to do to become more resilient. For more information, click here.
July 11, 6:00 pm - Live in Sarasota County and want to go solar? Now's your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed the Sarasota Solar Co-op with the help of Solar United Neighbors of Florida to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. RSVP for free information session here.
July 14, 10:30 am - Live in Miami-Dade County and want to go solar? Now's your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed the Miami Summer Solar Co-op with the help of Solar United Neighbors to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. RSVP for free information session here.
July 19, 6:00 pm - Live in Pinellas County, south of State Road 60 and want to go solar? Now's your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed the St. Pete Summer Solar Co-op with the help of Solar United Neighbors of Florida to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. RSVP for free information session here.
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