FCC News Brief - August 8, 2018

Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald - “When Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens, who is a well regarded expert on water and has studied pollution all over the world, began hearing about a deepening algae bloom in his own backyard in Lake Okeechobee this summer, he struggled to find information that could tell him what was going on. State scientists sample water in the lake, but too infrequently to track rapidly evolving algae blooms. Instead, Havens had to rely on satellite images that were taken on sunny days when clouds don’t get in the way. ‘No one is out on the lake collecting water samples of the bloom,’ he said last month. ‘We’re flying blind.’... Over the last decade, as the state fought federal efforts to protect water, shrunk its own environmental and water-management agencies, and cut funding to an algae task force, monitoring for water quality has plummeted. While one crisis after another hit Florida, state and federal funding that paid for a massive coastal network with nearly three decades of information dwindled from about 350 stations to 115, according to Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center…” Read As bouts with killer algae rose, Florida gutted its water quality monitoring network.

Grant Gelhardt writes for the Tallahassee Democrat - “The Department of Environmental Protection recently proposed an action plan for our area designed to protect and improve the water quality of our springs. Environmentalists are concerned that the guidelines are not enough to improve the springs; likewise, members of the development community worry that they will place undue burden on homeowners with septic tanks. Ultimately the local government will have to take action to implement any of the needed water-quality protection criteria and improvement programs.In addition, over the last few years Tallahassee residents have seen local developments that encourage “urban infill,” which is new development or redevelopment of property located in the downtown area. However, there are concerns about the type and location of these infill projects. While nobody favors “urban sprawl”— uncontrolled growth at the city’s boundaries — people question whether some of the approved developments are appropriate for our community...These important issues will have to be addressed by the newly elected city and county commissioners. Where do the candidates stand on these and other environmental and smart-growth issues? How do they intend to address these issues once elected?...” Read Local elections matter for the environment, smart growth.

Brad Buck reports for UF IFAS Newswise - “Among its many useful traits, the federally endangered snail kite helps wildlife managers gauge whether the Florida Everglades has sufficient water. That’s one reason University of Florida scientists closely monitor the birds’ activity- and to make sure it’s surviving. Like other animals, snail kits need to move in order to spread their genes to new places, which is important for species’ survival. But movement alone is not enough. Once animals arrive at new destinations, they also need to reproduce, say UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers. Ellen Robertson, a post-doctoral researcher and Robert Fletcher, a UF/IFAS associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation, co-authored the study in which scientists wanted to discover the factors that most limit snail kites from spreading their genes: movement or reproduction. In the study, researchers showed the snail kite moves frequently across the Everglades and other wetlands in south-central Florida, but 90 percent of the birds that moved did not reproduce…Many conservation strategies promote animal movement, said Robertson. These strategies also need to ensure that animals are reproducing after they move. For snail kites, conservation efforts should focus on managing water levels and habitat in ways that benefit snail kite reproduction, Robertson said.” Read UF Study: Snail Kites must do more than move to thrive.

Timothy Cama reports for The Hill- “The Trump administration is encouraging states and tribes to take over responsibility for environmental permitting in some water bodies that have traditionally been under federal power. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a memo last week that seeks to clarify when the Army Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency can grant states permitting power under the Clean Water Act. The agencies, which jointly enforce the Clean Water Act, are allowed to give states authority over waterways like streams and wetlands for pollution permitting, subject to continued federal oversight. States cannot oversee permitting for major waterways like rivers and ports...Read Trump officials push states to take power over more waterways.

Rob Lorci for 88.5 WMNF- “This year the environment is emerging as a top issue in both the primary and the general election. The Democrats have been debating who is closer to Big Sugar and a mall to be built by a Graham family company near the Everglades. Candidates are attacking each other over who is responsible for the toxic green slime affecting south Florida. It’s one of many environmental problems threatening Florida’s environment. Right now a red tide outbreak is causing devastation along Florida’s southwest coast. In the past month millions of fish and hundreds of sea turtles, manatees, dolphin, shark, and eels have been found dead off waters off Lee, Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties. While yearly red tide outbreaks have been recorded for hundreds of years off the Florida coast, this year’s outbreak is the worst in more than a decade. It’s causing respiratory problems and devastation to the summer tourism industry...Our guest today is one of the leading authorities on Florida’s springs and underground aquifer. Robert Knight is the director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute- a nonprofit that is in the forefront of advocating for the cleanup and protection of Florida’s amazing system of (once) crystal clear springs. Florida’s springs are being adversely affected by the same problems affecting Lake Okeechobee, our sea coasts, rivers and lakes: polluted runoff from farms and development. Read Top Environmentalist warns Florida springs and freshwater aquifer are at risk.

Craig Pittman for the Tampa Bay Times - “ Florida politicians from both parties used to have a sweet tooth for campaign contributions from the state’s powerful sugar industry. But now that Big Sugar is getting blamed for toxic algae blooms, a connection to the industry has turned into a political liability. This campaign season, only one person running for governor is still taking sugar’s money: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. So far sugar companies and their affiliates have given Putnam’s campaign and his Florida Grown PAC $804,000 in direct contributions, a reward for a reliable ally. He’s also received $7.6 million from five political action committees that receive a significant portion of their contributions from the industry, or one out of every five dollars that he has raised. Putnam also is the only gubernatorial candidate defending the sugar companies from accusations that they deserve some or all of the blame for the pollution-fueled algae blooms mucking up Lake Okeechobee and threatening to ruin beach communities on both coasts…” Read This candidate for Florida governor is the only one taking money from Big Sugar.

From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events    

Tidal Town Hall: Attend a Tidal Town Hall near you. These events represent a partnership between ReThink Energy Florida and First Street Foundation in an effort to provide voters with the opportunity to have an open conversation with Primary Candidates on the topic of sea level rise. Attending candidates are from both sides of the aisle and this is your chance to ask them how they plan on protecting the Sunshine State from climate change driven sea level rise:

August 85:30-8:30 pm- 3975 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota FL 34232. Facebook event here

August 9, 5:30- 8:30 pm- 1000 Holt Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Facebook event here

August 14, 5:00-7:00 pm  - 6340 Napa Woods Way, Naples, FL 34116. Facebook event here.

August 14, 5:00 - 7:45 pm - 239 N Spring Street, Pensacola, FL. Facebook event here

August 15, 5:00 - 7:00 pm - 2000 North Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers, FL. Facebook event here

August 9, 6:00 - 8:45 pm - Big Bend Environmental Forum for Candidates of Primary Election- Citizens will be able to suggest questions covering environmental, energy, sustainability, and growth management issues to candidates of the county and city commissions for the Big Bend area. An open house prior to the forum will include displays by candidates and BBEF member organizations. King Life Sciences Building Auditorium, Room 1024, 319 Stadium Dr, Tallahassee FL. Facebook event here

August 13-16 - Registration is now open for Florida Springs Institute Field School. The Springs Field School will take place in Silver Springs, Florida, and includes four days of lectures and field trips on springs biology, geology, chemistry, environmental laws and advocacy from leading experts. For info and registration, click

August 17, 4:30 pm- 6:30 pm (CST) - Apalachicola Riverkeeper Meet & Greet: Learn more about Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s current and upcoming projects, including this year’s RiverTrek launch. Enjoy Wine & Beer, Tea & Soda along with light snacks. There will be door prizes! Event will be at the W.T. Neal Civic Center in Blountstown.

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.


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