FCC News Brief - August 15, 2018

Adam Wollner for the Miami Herald - “Tallahassee has failed to adequately address the increasing number of environmental problems facing Florida and the next class of elected officials must act far more aggressively to solve them. That was the view expressed by an overwhelming majority of the Florida Influencers, a group of 50 leading voices from around the state. In the latest survey, 68 percent of Influencers said they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with how well state lawmakers have handled climate and environmental issues, while just 8 percent said they were satisfied. ‘Climate change will impact all earthlings, but we Floridians are at the epicenter of the impacts,’ said Richard Fain, the CEO of Royal Caribbean. ‘We have more to lose and we can be an exemplar to the nation. The governor and legislature need to provide leadership for dealing with it.’  The best way to do that, the Influencers said, was to put political interests aside and seek the advice of climate science experts to develop the most effective policies to protect Florida’s environment…’We need Florida politicians to understand that, in Florida, the environment is sacred,’ said Xavier Cortada, a Miami-based artist. ‘It is everything. Here, in a state surrounded by water, they can’t toy with politics.’...” Read Florida Influencers: Tallahassee politicians are failing to protect Florida’s environment.

Jason Kirk writes editorial for the TCPalm- “The reversal and improvement of this complex and limited water management system that is manifesting itself in the form of extensive algal blooms — in both the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries this year — is the monumental undertaking in which your Army Corps of Engineers, partnered closely with the U.S. Department of Interior and the state of Florida, is engaged. Through multiple communications venues, including several public meetings we’ve hosted in the past few weeks, the Corps team and I have heard the emphatic concerns regarding this summer’s water management challenges. I assure you that we are leveraging the available flexibility within a limited system to manage water levels throughout hurricane season. We also are moving full-steam ahead on multiple Everglades restoration projects and the $1.8 billion Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, now fully funded by the administration, which will enable a more flexible water management system that engineers, scientists and leaders at the Corps and the water management district will operate in the future...We acknowledge the people we serve want to see solutions today. However, the amount of infrastructure we must construct to significantly improve flows to the south is a huge, multi-year undertaking — the equivalent of re-working traffic flows on a massive freeway. With the ongoing support from our state partners, we will continue to make progress.In addition to the recent $100 million state contributions and dedicated funding for the balance of $514 million by the administration for the Herbert Hoover Dike, we also are laying the groundwork to revise the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule and have that new schedule in place upon completion of dike rehabilitation in 2022.This nation is at its best when we work together to tackle these challenges. We understand the frustration that many feel, but do not lose sight of the fact that we are making tangible progress. With your continued valuable input, we will maintain the increasing momentum toward success.” Read We’re making progress on water issues by working together.

From the FDEP Press Office - “Today, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the acquisition of 38 acres within the Florida Keys Ecosystem Florida Forever project. The parcel, Wood Trust, is ranked as one of the highest priority projects in the Florida Forever Climate Change Lands category, providing unique habitat for many rare plants and animals. The lands will be managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. ‘DEP is excited to have another opportunity to protect Florida's natural resources through this acquisition,’ said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. ‘The support of our partners in Monroe County and FWC has played an imperative role in this process. This acquisition is an example of how our communities are working together to address the impacts of global climate change in our state.’...The Wood Trust parcel is in an area designated as an Area of Critical State Concern. This designation requires state and local governments to focus on the protection of resources and public facilities of major statewide significance. The acquisition of this property will prevent future development and continue efforts to keep hurricane evacuations to under 24 hours.” Read Governor and Cabinet Approve Florida Forever Acquisition in the Keys

Larissa Liebmann writes for the Waterkeeper Alliance - “The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is a monumental law passed in 1970 which requires agencies to research the potential environmental impacts of their decisions, how these impacts can be mitigated, and to consider alternatives. NEPA protects right for the public to get information about the potential impacts and participate in the decision-making process. The NEPA process is incredibly valuable, as it helps to ensure that decisions by the federal government are made in a transparent, well-informed manner. But the Trump administration is trying to weaken it. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), a division within the Executive Office of the President, was established by NEPA to ensure that federal agencies meet their legal obligations under the statute. While CEQ was intended by Congress to serve as a NEPA watchdog, the Trump CEQ is now considering making major changes to the well-established NEPA process that would make it easier to advance environmentally damaging projects and to shut the public out of the process. The Trump administration, spurred on by industry special interests, decries the NEPA environmental review process as overly burdensome and too slow. However, one of the most important aspects of NEPA is that is forces the federal government to pause and carefully study the impacts of a proposed project and consider whether better alternatives exist. This process, when it is earnestly conducted with communities and ecosystems in mind, can uncover impacts that might have been overlooked and can prevent the federal government from plowing forward with inefficient or dangerous plans… Please submit a comment by Monday, August 20 standing up for careful and robust environmental review that allows for meaningful public participation as intended by Congress.” Read Tell CEQ: Don’t rush environmental review!

Kevin Bouffard reports for The Ledger - “If you believe young people primarily drive environmental activism, these elder citizens can teach our children and grandchildren a few things in that area. ‘In order to combat climate change, we need to get our carbon emissions under control,’ said Charlene Bennett, 81, of Lake Wales, a member of the organizing committee for the Polk County Solar Co-op, the first one in the county. ‘I’m very concerned about climate change. Everybody needs to do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint. I stopped teaching because I want to do what I preached.’ Bennett and Karen Freedman are among several local residents on the organizing committee for the solar cooperative, which launches officially on Sept. 17. But the group has already attracted more than 30 people interested in joining the co-op, which is enough to begin its first round of soliciting contractors to install solar systems on local houses. The co-op is affiliated with the Florida League of Women Voters and Solar United Neighbors of Florida, which has already formed 34 county and regional co-ops in the state. Membership is free, but participants are asked to make a non-binding pledge to install solar systems on their houses. The Polk Co-op will make that cheaper to do so, said Rick Garrity, 74, of Lakeland, the retired executive director of the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. He has experience forming the solar cooperative in Hillsborough, which initially attracted 300 participants…” Read Polk County solar co-op gets up and running.

Sarah Greenberger writes for Audubon News- “ Forty years ago, our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle, was on the brink of extinction and its population plummeted to an all-time low of 417 breeding pairs, in large part due to the effects of the pesticide DDT. The Bald Eagle became one of the first species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when it was passed with broad bipartisan support and signed into law in 1973 by President Nixon.  The ESA is our nation’s most powerful tool for protecting wildlife. Protections provided by the Act have succeeded in preventing the extinction of 99 percent of the species listed, and benefitted many others that depend on the landscapes it’s helped to protect...And yet, despite the law’s stellar track record and widespread popularity, there are concerted efforts to weaken it—from a suite of bills in the U.S. House to proposed regulations by the administration. The most important measure of any proposed change to a bedrock environmental law, however, is whether it enhances science-based decision-making as well as air, water, or wildlife conservation. By this measure, the net impact of both congressional and administrative proposals fails to meet these standards. Key provisions put forward by the administration and in legislative proposals fail to address the needs of imperiled birds and would undermine the ESA’s purpose and effectiveness…” Read The Bald Eagle and the Endangered Species Act- An American Success Story

From Our Readers

The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.


Job Openings

Florida Springs Council Executive Director

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

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 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 here.

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.

September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water: The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.

October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water: The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee:  Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information.  Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL  32055

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.

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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We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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