FCC News Brief - August 10, 2018

From the News Service of Florida- “Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will be asked next week to spend $5.5 million to help limit future development on nearly 2,500 acres of ranch land in Highlands County. The proposal, which will go to the Cabinet on August 14, seeks to add the Sandy Gully property to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of ‘conservation easements’ restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations. The program, favored by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has been used 38 times in the past eight years, accounting for more than 47,000 acres across the state being put into conservation easements. The family-owned Sandy Gully land, originally a dairy operation, transitioned to a cattle operation in 2002. The purchase could help protect wetlands and surface waters that flow toward the Peace River. The state anticipates that the federal government will eventually cover $3.3 million of the cost through an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.” Read Rick Scott, Cabinet eye protecting ranch land.

Jaclyn Bevis reports for NBC 2 - “A letter made out to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell from the Everglades Foundation asks that America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 be the top agenda item when the US Senate returns next week. The bill includes the Water Resources Development Act that authorities the Everglades reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The reservoir is a crucial piece of the plans to send water south of Lake Okeechobee in an effort to end the harmful discharges impacting Florida's east and west coasts. ‘The solution to the crisis today is Everglades restoration,’ Chief Executive Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation said. ‘We have a catastrophe right here in Southwest Florida, and the Senate needs to act.’...State leaders already committed to their part of funding the future work to send water south of the lake, but the massive project requires federal partners as well. Leaders at the grassroots organization Captains for Clean Water agree that action from the Senate must come quickly. ‘We've had over 40,000 emails sent asking the Senate to pass this bill,’ Captain Daniel Andrews with Captains for Clean Water said. ‘We're in a crisis and we need the Senate to act.’ The Senate returns to work August 15 from the most recent recess.” Read SWFL organizations calling on Senate to vote on Everglades reservoir.

Alex Harris reports for the Miami Herald- “ The rising seas that threaten South Florida could one day be fended off by a tree-lined terrace on Miami’s Brickell Bay Drive, or by street-end parks on Miami Beach’s West Avenue. County residents could turn to their local train station for solar phone charging and emergency information after a hurricane. This week, experts huddled at Miami-Dade College and brainstormed ways to make five South Florida resilience projects better and get them finished faster. Experts from Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscape’s Resiliency Accelerator and leaders of various local involved groups spent three days developing new ideas to make these projects resilient — fast. The $3.7 million workshop was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, the same group behind the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, which is working with Miami, Miami Beach and the county to debut a plan to make the city more resilient to climate change and other stresses…” Read Faster, better climate resilience. Columbia U helps refines South Florida projects.

Roger Wood writes for the Pine Island Eagle - “ Unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the eco disasters in Southwest Florida. First it was the massive red tide that killed all types of marine life. National news showed rotting fish covering the beaches of the Gulf. Then came the blue green algae bloom flushing down the Caloosahatchee River from the Lake Okeechobee cesspool. We've been flooded with news images of green slime and white floating dead fish in the river, bays and canals...Knowledgeable activists have been warning about this for years. Large amounts of money was spent to silence them and elect more complacent politicians. Over the last decade the regulation of our environment was transferred from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They were charged with enforcing the Federal Clean Water Act. The Florida DEP was then de-staffed and de-funded by the Florida politicians. Enforcement of violations of clean water standards have been almost nonexistent. Florida politicians wrote legislation identifying good water management practices, and made compliance voluntary. It's like having voluntary speed limits. How would that work out?...” Read Stop using Lake O as an irrigation pond.

Rick Neale reports for Florida Today - “ Last month, the Waste Management Recycling Brevard plant processed 7,334 tons of materials, including plastic, cardboard, glass, paper and metal from residential and commercial customers in Brevard and Seminole counties. However, 2,800 tons of this haul had to be removed and trucked to the Central Disposal Facility in Cocoa, said Amy Boyson, Waste Management community affairs manager. That garbage — representing 38 percent of the total July intake — cost Waste Management $66,248 in landfill disposal fees and $21,000 in transport fees. What's more, the Cocoa recycling plant was forced to shut down for 32 hours in July because of mechanical assembly-line breakdowns caused by plastic bags, metal objects and other oddball items, Boyson said. ‘What we want is your plastic bottles, jugs and tubs; aluminum and tin cans; paper; cardboard. We also need those items to be clean and the cardboard to be dry — we can't sell wet paper or wet cardboard,’ Boyson said. Recycling cart contamination has moved to the forefront amid China's ongoing crackdown on importing recyclables. In March, China began enforcing a new 0.5 percent contamination limit on imported recyclables…” Read 62 percent of Melbourne recycling carts are ‘contaminated’ with garbage, unwanted items.

Ali Schmitz writes for Treasure Coast Newspapers - “During the second and final Republican gubernatorial debate Wednesday in Jacksonville, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Rep. Ron DeSantis accused each other of being closely tied to their donors and unable to properly solve issues facing the state from the environment to the economy....Both candidates argued they would be the best to solve algae blooms on the Treasure Coast and Southwest Florida and red tide on the Gulf Coast. Putnam said he understands Florida's environment better than DeSantis, claiming his opponent knows a limited amount about environmental policy. ‘You can take everything my opponent knows about Florida water policy and write it on a sticky note, and you’ll still have room left for your grocery list,” Putnam said. Putnam supports: Increasing water storage north of Lake Okeechobee, addressing leaky septic tanks that are partially fueling the blooms, pushing for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the C-44 and C-43 reservoirs east and west of the Lake, which clean local water runoff.  DeSantis called Putnam an ‘errand boy’ for Clewiston-based U.S. Sugar Corp., saying he would only support policies backed by the sugar industry. Putnam has received more than $800,000 in direct support from Florida's two largest sugar industry employers, U.S. Sugar and West Palm Beach-based Florida Crystals, and their affiliates. The industry has not given any money to any other candidates in the gubernatorial race. DeSantis said he supports: ‘Any approach’ to stop the damage, storage projects south of the lake, and ensuring water gets sent south to the Everglades and Florida Bay, septic-to-sewer projects, but specified that shouldn't be the top priority. Putnam accused DeSantis of ignoring small towns south of Lake Okeechobee, while DeSantis argued Putnam would not help Southwest and Treasure Coast communities affected by the blooms…” Read Ron DeSantis, Adam Putnam fight over campaigns, algae during GOP primary debate.

Mark Young reports for the Miami Herald - “ As sea life continues to be devastated in the Gulf of Mexico off Anna Maria Island, an unlikely hero has emerged, or in this case submerged, to potentially battle red tide should it creep into other Manatee County waterways. One oyster filters between nine and 50 gallons of water a day, according to Sandy Gilbert, CEO of START, which launched the Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling & Renewal program a little more than a year ago. The organization was started in 1995 during another massive red tide bloom in Manatee County and has been working to restore the county’s shellfish population…About 280 volunteers have been working this past year bagging oysters and placing them along the Manatee River and in strategic locations in Sarasota Bay and Robinson Preserve. Before being named the Manatee River, the waterway was known as Oyster River. The over-harvesting of shellfish over the years decimated the population and START is looking to give oysters another chance to thrive. That work has been ongoing and combined with county sewer and water infrastructure improvements, the result has been consistently higher water quality in Sarasota Bay since the 1950s…Read Are oysters the key to battling red tide in Florida?

Bill Weir reports for CNN- “Back in 1994 we had an outbreak and it killed 196 manatee," says Bob Wasno, a marine biologist with Florida Gulf Coast University. "Everybody was just completely outraged. They yelled and jumped up and down and said 'This is not going to happen again.' Here we are 24 years later and this is worse than ever." The daily sightings of dead dolphins and lifeless sea turtles, beaches covered in rotting fish and the first recorded loss of a massive whale shark are all the result of a tiny organism known as Karenia brevis. It occurs naturally in saltwater, produces a neurotoxin deadly to most fish and marine mammals and is potentially harmful to humans. But while red tides have broken out in Florida for centuries, scientists believe they may be getting worse after generations of unchecked development, water mismanagement and the new scourge of climate change. ‘The real question is exactly what role (human) activity is playing on red tides,’ says Dr. Mike Parsons, a red tide expert at Florida Gulf Coast University. ‘Between water discharges, our use of agricultural nutrients, the development of Florida and warming seas -- are we poking the bear?’ Read Scientists search for ‘smoking gun’ in the dead zone of Florida’s red tide.

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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 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 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.

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Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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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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