FCC News Brief - August 13, 2018

Brady Dennis and Lori Rozsa report for the Washington Post - “ In recent days, the U.S. Senate race in Florida has turned decidedly slimy. Incumbent Bill Nelson (D) and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algae bloom plaguing parts of the state, which have killed marine life, raised public health concerns and threatened the Sunshine State’s tourism industry. And even as they accuse each other of inaction, both the two-term governor and the three-term senator have scrambled to prove how dedicated they are to addressing the problem. In a campaign season dominated by talk of immigration, trade tariffs, the Supreme Court and all things President Trump, the clash in Florida over an unfolding environmental disaster could prove a pivotal issue in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races this fall....Frank Jackalone, director of the Sierra Club’s Florida chapter, said that although Scott is trying to shift the blame to Nelson, the governor is the one largely responsible for the crisis. ‘The fact is, Rick Scott has had far more power to deal with these issues than Bill Nelson,’ Jackalone said. ‘Bill Nelson has one vote in the U.S. Senate. Rick Scott is the governor of Florida and has had the power to enforce the Clean Water Act in the state. He could have enforced pollution regulations. Instead, he cut back funding, rolled back regulations, and eliminated a large part of his enforcement staff...’  Read In Florida, an environmental crisis takes center stage in tight Senate race.

The News Service of Florida - “The U.S. Supreme Court has appointed a new special master to handle the long-running legal battle between Florida and Georgia over water in the Apalachicola River system. The court on Thursday named Paul J. Kelly Jr., a federal appellate judge from Santa Fe, N.M., to replace Maine lawyer Ralph Lancaster as special master. A one-paragraph order from the court did not explain the reasons for the move. The Supreme Court in June overturned a 2017 recommendation by Lancaster that found Florida had not proven its case “by clear and convincing evidence” that imposing a cap on Georgia’s water use would benefit Florida water systems, including oyster-rich Apalachicola Bay in Franklin County. The 5-4 decision found that Lancaster had “applied too strict a standard” in rejecting Florida’s claim that overconsumption of water in Georgia is damaging the Apalachicola River system. The ruling sent the case back to the special master, though it did not mean that the Supreme Court was siding with Florida on the underlying issues in the case.” Read New Special Master named in ‘water war’.

Karl Etters reports for the Tallahassee Democrat -  Close to 2,000 acres of land – dotted with pristine springs and covered by thick old-growth North Florida forest – is the next acquisition that brings the state one step closer to connecting Tallahassee to the Gulf Coast. The Horn Springs addition, bought by the state in 2016, will increase the size of Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park nine-fold and encapsulate a large portion of the upper St. Marks River. Just 15 miles south of the capital city, it also would create a green space that stretches from J.R. Alford Greenway in Tallahassee nearly all the way south through to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, save for a few acres of private land near the Jefferson County border. Wedged between old timberland and rural southern Leon County, it’s an area still wild with at least 10 major springs, dramatic karst topography, basin swamps and bottomland forests. It’s also home to black bears and bald eagles. The land and the watershed was at one point a popular spot for Tallahassee high schoolers despite being locked on private land, said Sean McGlynn of the Wakulla Springs Alliance. He said the acquisition is a long time in the making and a worthwhile public investment. ‘It’s just a fantasy of little springs. They even come up on the middle of the river,’ McGlynn said. ‘It’s a place that’s going to bring people to the area, make us happy to live here and be a place for us to recreate with our kids. It’s been private for too long.’... Read State seeking ideas for expanded Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park

Sheldon Gardner writes for the St. Augustine Record - “Despite the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board’s rejection of a rezoning request on Tuesday, Fish Island, isn’t free from the possibility of development. The developer hasn’t announced its next step. But there are possibilities, such as appealing the board’s denial or trying to develop the property under existing land rights. D.R. Horton’s proposal was to build a maximum of 170 homes southeast of the State Road 312 bridge on a part of Anastasia Island referred to as Fish Island. The area overlooks the Matanzas River and is partially bordered by wetlands. The proposal has drawn a lot of pushback, and some people suggested using state funds or other sources to buy the property and keep it from being developed….Other options exist for the property...Some people brought up the possibility of using funds from Florida Forever, a state land conservation program, to buy and preserve the property. The state has purchased more than 770,000 acres with more than $3 billion since July 2001, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s website. The North Florida Land Trust, a nonprofit organization, has worked with the state to facilitate those kind of land purchases, said Jim McCarthy, president of the land trust. Typically, a developer, owner or someone else connected to the property in question will approach the land trust about selling the property, and then the organization will work with the state from there, he said. The organization’s work includes getting appraisals on the land, he said. The state will pay most of the low appraisal amount. ‘That is generally not attractive to a developer who believes they can develop their property,’ McCarthy said. McCarthy said Fish Island would be eligible for Florida Forever funds because of its location, but no one from the developer’s team has approached him about looking into it, he said. The land trust holds a conservation easement near the development site and would be eager to try to preserve the rest of the property, he said…” Read Fish Island rejection by St. Augustine planning board isn’t a dead end.

Courtney Cole reports for Action News Jax- “The Florida Department of Health has issued a warning about algae blooms in Clay County. The latest release shows elevated levels of toxins have been detected in Doctors Lake. Earlier this month, Sky Action News Jax flew over the lake and spotted patches of the toxic algae. ‘When there’s toxins present, it can be highly dangerous for anyone coming into contact with it,’ said Lisa Rinaman with the St. Johns Riverkeeper, an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the St. Johns River…’Too much nitrogen and phosphorus coming from wastewater treatment facilities, fertilizers we put on our yards, failing septic tanks -- and so that fuels the green algae we see. It also fuels red tide,’ Rinaman said. Rinaman said the most important thing you can do to help is to report it to the state or the St. Johns Riverkeeper when you see it...” Read Florida Department of Health: Elevated levels of toxic algae in Doctors Lake

Tony Doris reports for the Palm Beach Post - “An appeals court has buttressed West Palm Beach’s fight against the proposed extension of State Road 7 next to the Grassy Waters Preserve. A three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on August 8 rescinded the South Florida Water Management District permit that approved the extension...The city has been fighting the extension for several years, arguing that road runoff would threaten the city’s main water supply, the 23-square-mile preserve. The proposed route runs for about 2 miles along the western perimeter of the preserve, next to Ibis Golf & Country Club. Without the water district permit, the project also can’t get a crucial approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Muoio said. ‘All over the state, people are dealing with algae blooms and water quality issues and we have one of the pristine water bodies in the state. If we let that nutrient level rise and discharge into Grassy Waters, we’re going to be talking about algae blooms in our water supply. That’s why we’re fighting so hard to keep it clean.’...The Florida Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society of the Everglades, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and National Wildlife Federation also filed a brief on the city’s behalf…” Read Court gives West Palm another shot at opposing State Road 7 work.

Betsy Lillian reports for the Solar Industry- “On Tuesday, the city commission of Largo, Florida approved the city’s commitment to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. Largo, which is located in the Tampa Bay Area, represents the fourth city in Florida and the 75th in the U.S. to establish this goal, according to the Sierra Club. The commitment to switch to 100% clean energy comes as an addition to and approval of the Largo Environmental Action Plan (LEAP), which ‘sets the direction for collaborative and sustainable operations’ across the city, says the Sierra Club...Other Florida cities that have also committed to 100% clean energy include St. Petersburg, Orlando and Sarasota. Largo is the second city in Duke Energy’s service territory to commit to 100% clean energy, according to the Sierra Club." Read Largo, Florida commits to 100% clean energy.

Dale Kasler reports for the Sacramento Bee - “In a rebuke to the Trump administration, an appeals court Thursday ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a widely used farm pesticide that environmentalists say can damage the nervous systems of farmworkers, their children and even consumers. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals told the EPA to ban the chemical known as chlorpyrifos within 60 days. The ruling by the 9th Circuit is a major victory for environmentalists and a defeat for agricultural interests and the Trump administration, which had refused to ban the pesticide…” Read Courts ban popular pesticide defended by Trump. What it means for farms, workers, kids.


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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.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit - 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.

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Petitions

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Protect Red Wolves

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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