FCC News Brief - July 10, 2018

Ali Schmitz reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers - “In a letter sent to President Donald Trump on Sunday, Rubio asked Trump to urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start considering the ‘impacts of harmful algal blooms and poor water quality’ on downstream communities while they plan and conduct the discharges. Rubio said in the letter the Corps should immediately reconsider starting discharges into the St. Lucie River today, and re-evaluate the flows entering the Caloosahatchee. Sunday evening, the Corps decided to suspend flows from Lake Okeechobee… Rubio also requests that the Trump Administration doubles the amount of money going to Everglades infrastructure projects, including the Everglades Agriculture Area reservoir and the Central Everglades Planning Project. The projects would clean water, and move discharged Lake Okeechobee water to the Everglades and Florida Bay…” Read Army Corps to suspend Lake Okeechobee discharges.

James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat - “Florida springs activists will decide this week whether to move forward with a legal challenge to the Department of Environmental Protection plans to restore water quality in 24 springs. A coalition of groups met in a conference call Friday organized by the Florida Springs Institute. Participants agreed to two or more meetings and to ‘cloak them in silence’ until they decide whether to contest the Basin Management Action Plans mandated by the 2016 Legislature. They have a 21-day window to file for an administrative hearing.. ‘We will talk with other springs groups and reassess and then consider what to do on the 13th,’ said Sean McGlynn, chair of Wakulla Springs Alliance. ‘If there is a group of springs that will join us and help us with the cause that would reduce the cost and make it manageable.’ Advocates expressed hope two years ago when lawmakers agreed to spend money to improve water quality in the network of first magnitude springs that dot north and central Florida. Nitrates from fertilizers used in the cities and on farms along with wastewater from septic tanks flow into the springs where they feed algae. Algae blooms trigger a series of events that affect water quality and chase life out of the spring….DEP said the BMAP plans released June 29 provide “tools for remediation” for the septic tanks and encourages cities and farms to employ best practices in the use of fertilizers. Members of the Florida Springs Council, a coalition of 45 groups, found it unrealistic to expect those tools alone will get the job done…” Read Wakulla Springs and other protection plans head toward turbulent waters.

Andy Marlette writes for Florida Voices - “ Under the heat and moisture of a state where reptiles grow to be giants, commercial development, too, has found the appetite to grow and grow and grow. Now in his grownup life as one of the leading environmental and land use attorneys in Northwest Florida, it’s Will Dunaway’s job to help clients navigate the fluctuating wilderness of laws and regulations that govern all that growth…. ‘Cases involving big corporate polluters are not really the day-to-day environmental and land law,’ he said. ‘It’s neighborhood stuff: permits, variances, zoning issues.’...It’s activity at that neighborhood level that Dunaway sees as crucial to land and development issues for the state. The future of Florida rests in the unique identities of its local communities....” Read Protecting ‘real’ Florida means embracing smarter growth.

From the AP - “The 3-year-old startup Coastal Risk Consultants was co-founded by the former director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies, and has amassed an advisory board of respected atmosphere experts from the University of Miami, Pennsylvania State University and Florida International University. Jupiter, a Silicon Valley firm launched this year by entrepreneur Rich Sorkin to analyze the effects of climate change on individual properties, includes a Nobel Prize winner, a former leader at the National Science Foundation, and Todd Stern, the chief negotiator for the U.S. on the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The companies see a market in sea level rise consultation, but also other climate change-related challenges that traditional property inspectors and building codes don’t consider — hurricane storm surge, flooding rains and extreme temperature changes...Statewide, about 64,000 homes are at risk of chronic flooding by 2045. The report defines chronic flooding as an average of 26 flood events or more per year, even in the absence of major storms. By 2100, that report says 1 million Florida homes will be at risk. That’s about 10 percent of the state’s current residential properties and 40 percent of the homes at risk nationally…” Read Company hopes to capitalize on rising sea levels in Florida.

Fatima Hussein writes for Bloomberg BNA - “...One prime area in which the Supreme Court could weaken environmental law would be narrowing the scope of the Clean Water Act, said Neal McAliley, an environmental law attorney at law firm Carlton Fields in Miami. Kennedy’s concurrence in the 2006 case Rapanos v. U.S. is the most significant environmental opinion of his Supreme Court career, according to attorneys. In Rapanos, the court split 4-4-1 over the scope of the ‘waters of the U.S.,’ with Kennedy in the middle. A water or wetland is considered “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act if it has a ‘significant nexus’ to ‘waters that are navigable in fact or that could reasonably be so made,’ Kennedy wrote. ‘With a new person in his seat, that seems to be a case where the court could go in a different direction,” McAliley said. ‘Presumably, more in the direction of the plurality opinion written by Justice Scalia.’ If that were to happen, he said, ‘The geographic scope of the Clean Water Act could be limited substantially, because the four justice plurality in Rapanos would have limited the waters of the U.S. to those with a relatively permanent surface water connection to truly navigable waters.” Read Conservative high court could change course of environmental cases.

Craig Pittman reports for Tampa Bay Times - “Florida is awash in toxic algae right now. Blue-green algae covers 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee...Meanwhile a long-running Red Tide algae bloom on the state’s west coast has been killing sea turtles and manatees in the Boca Grande area, according to river advocates and fishing captains. Fishkills and respiratory complaints have been pouring into the state wildlife commission from four counties. Both algae blooms are wrecking the coastal economy in the areas they’re afflicting. And both are fueled by climate change as warmer water temperatures boost the likelihood of blooms...Algae blooms, particularly Red Tide, have been documented as occurring along Florida’s shoreline dating back to the days of the Spanish conquistadors. But in Florida and around the nation, blooms are now occurring more frequently and are lasting longer.”  Read Florida’s summertime slime fueled by climate change as well as pollution.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings

Governmental Affairs and Political Director for Sierra Club Florida

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

Environmental Scientist for the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

Operations Manager for the Everglades Law Center


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.

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.



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

Save Endangered Sea Turtles from Drowning in Shrimp Trawls

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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