Read Ron DeSantis will have to prove he’s serious about environment - “It is heartening to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis often speak about his commitment to Florida’s environment. Those were some sweet-sounding words he spoke in his inauguration speech: “Our economic potential will be jeopardized if we do not solve the problems afflicting our environment and water resources.”But words without action is meaningless, and DeSantis is going to have to earn the people’s trust on this issue. His voting record while in Congress showed someone who came down on the opposite side of environmental protection almost every time. The League of Conservation Voters gave DeSantis a lifetime voting score of 2 percent. The Sierra Club of Florida endorsed Andrew Gillum over DeSantis for Governor. Director Frank Jackalone studied DeSantis’ environmental plan and dismissed it as basically a campaign prop. “Ron DeSantis’ environmental plan for Florida is filled with empty promises, few facts, and fewer details, and he omits any reference to climate change, clean energy, or the state’s desperate need to manage growth again,” Jackalone said in September when the endorsement was announced. “DeSantis’ plan attempts to greenwash his abysmal record voting against the environment 98 percent of the time in his three terms as a member of Congress. Floridians won’t support someone with DeSantis’ record for Governor, which is why he’s so desperately trying to change his tune.” Here’s a good way DeSantis can change his tune. Mouth these words: Climate. Change. C’mon, Governor. You’re an educated man — Yale undergrad, Harvard Law School. Put on that Ivy League thinking cap and come down on the side of science. Your predecessor, Rick Scott, wouldn’t allow those words to be used in official Tallahassee communications. We can have economic growth that is compatible with protecting our natural resources, but Scott didn’t seem to believe that. With regulations shredded, developers ran amok. That increased pollution. Pollution fuels the storm machine. Some of the strongest hurricanes on record hit Florida in the last two years. Sea levels are rising. Red tide and green goo are causing havoc in our waterways…” Joe Henderson writes Opinion for Florida Politics.
Read Do right by the Wekiva River and take another look at the plan to save it - “The Wekiva River’s water still runs clear — mostly. It remains one of the most peaceful and unspoiled places in Central Florida — for now. But a careful eye can spot the signs of decline. A wide lagoon just past the Wekiva’s springhead is choked with slender hydrilla stalks...The hydrilla and algae are gorging on nitrogen, a natural nutrient with an unnaturally large presence in many Florida waterways...Nitrogen is one of the ingredients in the fertilizer we use. It makes our St. Augustine lawns, soccer field grass and food crops grow...But some of it seeps into the groundwater. Nitrogen is in human waste, too. So when someone flushes a toilet and sends that waste into a septic tank, some nitrogen again will journey through the soil, into the aquifer and out through a spring and deposited into a river...Wekiva Springs has about three times more nitrogen in the water than it should have. Rock Springs has about four times what it should. Under a mandate from the Legislature, the state developed a plan to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the state’s springs...But on Friday, member of the Florida Springs Council challenged the state’s nitrogen-reduction plans for five different plans covering various springs, including Wekiva Springs, Rock Springs and Blue Spring in Volusia County...In a complex legal filing, Friends of the Wekiva is mounting a variety of legal challenges but one of the central points is that the state is engaged in a lot of wishful or hopeful thinking. It wishes farmers would adopt better fertilizer practices, but it’s not going to make them. It hopes local governments will hook up more septic tanks to sewer systems, even though they don’t have to. Friends of the Wekiva and other environmental groups want a hearing so they can convince a judge that the state’s plans don’t meet the legal requirements to stem the decline of Florida’s clear, spring-fed rivers…” Mike Lafferty writes for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Septic systems merit attention, action by the Florida Legislature - “ A bill just introduced in the Florida Senate would regulate and monitor the health of septic systems in the state. It’s a bitter, potentially expensive pill for millions of homeowners who are not connected to central sewer systems, but in our view it is a necessary step in what will be a yearslong effort to improve water quality and prevent future environmental disasters like the one that befell Southwest Florida last year as blue-green algae and red tide fouled our waters. The causes of the water crisis are many. Residential fertilizer use, agricultural runoff and imbalances to the freshwater-saltwater mix all play a role and need to be addressed. But it’s unreasonable to assume that septic tanks aren’t part of the problem as well. Senate Bill 214, filed by Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, merits support as does the companion bill filed in the Florida House. There will be pushback from Realtors, who say the bill’s provisions will hinder home sales, and from homeowners themselves, who could face mandatory inspections and improvements. On the other side, environmentalists may argue that the bill doesn’t move fast enough to correct problems. The bill’s requirements wouldn’t take effect until 2022, for instance. Few bills in Tallahassee go from start to finish unchanged, so give and take is to be expected…” From The Naples Daily News Editorial Board.
Read 2019 Will be a big year for water - “In the last few weeks of 2018, the Trump administration set the stage for a big battle over water in the new year. At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration seeks to roll back important protections for wetlands and waterways, which are important to drinking water and wildlife. This is just one of the upcoming water battles that could serve to define 2019. It’s also poised to be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland. A long-anticipated multistate agreement is close to completion after an ultimatum from the federal government. And it could also be a landmark year for water management in California, with several key issues coming to a head. Big things may also happen on the water infrastructure front and in efforts to address clean-water concerns. Of course, underlying many of the water issues is the specter of climate change, which is bringing both severe droughts and floods and exacerbating water-supply problems…” Tara Lohan reports for The Revelator.
Read Bipartisan legislation secures federal funding to combat algae blooms - “Bipartisan legislation from U.S. Rep. Brian Mast and former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that secures federal funding to combat harmful algal blooms has been signed into law by President Donald Trump. The new law reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013. The newest version was included as part of an act reauthorizing the National Integrated Drought Information System. In it, the federal government is authorized to make funding available for harmful algae blooms deemed “of national significance.” According to the act, a bloom of national significance means “a hypoxia or harmful algal bloom event that has had or will likely have a significant detrimental environmental, economic, subsistence use, or public health impact on an affected State.” Florida was one of those states this year, with a particularly harmful red tide breakout that caused problems for months. While federal dollars are authorized to help combat any future blooms, they are not to make up more than 50 percent of the total cost. The law also provides for more research into the blooms. A federal task force is directed to “complete and submit to Congress a scientific assessment of harmful algal blooms in United States coastal waters and freshwater systems” at least once every five years…” Ryan Nicol reports for Florida Politics.
Read Developers withdraw plans for new town in eastern Collier County - “Developers have scrapped their ideas for a new town in eastern Collier County after planning the project for years. The developers for Rural Lands West withdrew their application Tuesday. Development company Collier Enterprises pulling out of the Rural Lands West project brought out mixed reactions...The developer said Rural Lands West would have brought in millions of dollars of revenue to the county and would have preserved thousands of acres of land, but the Conservancy of Southwest Florida said that isn't necessarily the case. "The light, the noise, the development, the cars; that would encircle the primary panther habitat, would actually render the panther habitat viability almost worthless," Olson said. The Conservancy is hopeful a new, better plan will emerge. "We see this as an opportunity for the growth program in eastern Collier to really be improved," said April Olson, senior environmental planning specialist with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. McDaniel questions what will come next. "We all sort of knew what was going to transpire. Now we don't, so we're all kind of back to necessarily square one now," McDaniel said. McDaniel said development is coming no matter what, it's just a matter of doing it right. "Growth or no growth is really not a discussion," he said. "We have to embrace the fact that growth is inevitable. We have to incentivize it to be succinct." The county manager will be meeting with Collier Enterprises in the next few days to figure out what the following steps will be….” Alexa Santos reports for NBC News.
Read Don’t want antibiotics sprayed on your citrus? Sorry- it’s about to expand, big-time - “ The Trump administration has given the go-ahead for agricultural operations to spray antibiotics on nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, a move some scientists warn could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in people and in the environment. Federal officials are allowing greatly expanded use of streptomycin and oxytetracycline – antibiotics often used on people — as a pesticide on commercially grown citrus. Agricultural operations plan to use the antibiotic sprays to combat the widespread disease called citrus greening, which has devastated the citrus industry. The antibiotics won’t cure the disease, and will have to be sprayed repeatedly over years just to keep the trees alive and producing fruit until they succumb to citrus greening. Allowing so much antibiotic residue in Florida soils, runoff, and air is unprecedented. It’s unclear how much of the antibiotics – sprayed on leaves and taken up into the plant’s vascular system – will end up in fruit; it’s never been sprayed on this scale before. Test results the citrus industry provided to federal officials reported low antibiotic residues. Scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed concern, but ultimately ruled that the economic benefits outweigh the agency’s concerns about antibiotic resistance and potential harm to the environment, people, and wildlife. The amount of antibiotic exposure to people who eat fruit or juices is far less than what people are exposed to when prescribed antibiotics by their doctor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports…” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.
Read Without Trump, local governments spend millions to combat climate change - “...Frustrated by what they see as the Trump administration's decision to de-emphasize the danger posed by climate change, local government officials, nonprofit leaders and university researchers are busily forging ahead with limited resources in a piecemeal approach they say is better than nothing. They're hardening buildings, digging bigger storm drains and changing zoning laws to keep homes from being built in low-lying areas prone to flooding. While many cities and states are also trying to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to slow global warming, these more concrete efforts are aimed at mitigating the actual impacts of climate change, which many elected officials say is politically easier to tackle. “Climate change is real and it’s impacting our city right now,” said Walsh. “We just can’t back down from the threat regardless of what’s happening in Washington, D.C. I would love to have a strong federal partner. We don’t have that right now. But that doesn’t mean we stop.” An exhaustive federal report issued last month warned that climate change could, under a worst-case scenario, deliver a 10 percent hit to the nation's GDP by the end of the century. The 1,600-page National Climate Assessment details the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents will see if drastic action is not taken to address climate change. President Donald Trump downplayed the report's findings, complaining that the United States is already very "clean" and that other countries aren't addressing climate change. “I’ve seen it. I’ve read some of it. It’s fine," Trump told reporters at the time. Speaking about the potential economic impacts, Trump said, “I don’t believe it…” Trevor Hughes reports for USA Today.
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.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
January 14, 2019 – 6:00PM - Earth Ethics Monthly Education Series - (Pensacola) - Guest speaker Kate Peterson will present and discuss the topic of open burning and detonation of waste military munitions as it relates to human health and environmental concerns. The presentation will begin at 6:00PM at the Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden Street Pensacola, FL 32502. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
January 14, 2019 – 9:00AM-11:00AM– Suwannee County Legislative Delegation– (Live Oak) – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at Live Oak City Hall (101 White Ave SE, Live Oak, FL 32064). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 14, 2019 1:00-3:00PM– Columbia County Legislative Delegation– (Lake City) – Attend the Columbia County Delegation meeting at the Florida Gateway College Administrative Building 1 Board Room (149 SE College Place, Lake City, FL, parking near Library). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at email@example.com .
January 14, 2019 4:00-6:00PM – Baker County Legislative Delegation– (Macclenny) – Attend the Baker County Delegation meeting at the Macclenny City Hall, Commission Room (118 E Macclenny Ave, Macclenny FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at firstname.lastname@example.org .
January 15, 2019 – 9:00AM– Martin County Legislative Delegation– (Stuart) – Attend the Martin County Delegation meeting at Indian River State College Chastain Campus, Wolf Technology Center (2400 E Salerno Road, Stuart FL 34997). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 15, 2019 – 5:00PM-9:00PM– Brevard County Legislative Delegation– (Palm Bay City) – Attend the Brevard County Delegation meeting at Palm Bay City Council Chambers (120 Malabar Road, Palm Bay City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Deadline to submit request to appear is noon January 7, email Anna Budko, Anna.Budko@myfloridahouse.gov.
January 15, 2019 – 9:00AM-5:00PM– Lee County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Myers) – Attend the Lee County Delegation meeting at Florida Southwestern State College Nursing Building, Room AA-177 Fort Myers, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Deadline to submit request to appear is noon January 7, email email@example.com for more information.
January 15, 2019 – 9:30AM-4:00PM– Broward County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Lauderdale) – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at 115 South Andrews Avenue Room 430, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, complete this Speaker Form. Topics for this meeting include the environment and growth management.
January 16, 2019 – 1:00PM– Dixie County Legislative Delegation– (Cross City) – Attend the Dixie County Delegation meeting at Dixie County Commission Chamber, County Courthouse, (214 NE Hwy 351, Cross City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 16, 2019 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– Indian River County Legislative Delegation– (Vero Beach) – Attend the Indian River County Delegation meeting at Indian River County Administration Complex, (1801 27th St, Building A, Vero Beach, FL 32960). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, a request form and corresponding materials must be delivered to Sen. Mayfield's office no later than January 9. To receive a request form, email Margaret Mitchell at Mitchell.Margaret@flsenate.gov .
January 16, 2019 10:00-11:30AM – Lafayette County Legislative Delegation– (St. Mayo) – Attend the Lafayette County Delegation meeting at County Commission Chamber, Lafayette County Courthouse (120 W Main St, Mayo, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at firstname.lastname@example.org .
January 16, 2019 – 4:00PM– Gilchrist County Legislative Delegation– (Trenton) – Attend the Gilchrist County Delegation meeting at County Commission Meeting Facility, (210 S. Main Street, Trenton, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 17, 2019 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– St. Lucie County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Pierce) – Attend the St. Lucie County Delegation meeting at the Indian River State College – Ft. Pierce Campus Knight Center for Emerging Technologies Indian River State College (3209 Virginia Ave, Building V Fort Pierce, FL 34981). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!
January 18, 2019 – 9:00AM-10:30AM– Okeechobee County Legislative Delegation– (Okeechobee) – Attend the Okeechobee County Delegation meeting at the Okeechobee County Government Center, Commission Chambers (304 NW 2nd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, contact Justin Morgan, email@example.com or (863) 462-5019 before January 10, 2019.
January 18, 2019 – 12:00PM-2:00PM– Highlands County Legislative Delegation– (Sebring) – Attend the Highlands County Delegation meeting at the Highlands County Government Center, Commission Chambers (600 S Commerce Ave Sebring, FL 33870). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, please contact Maura Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org or (863) 386-6000 if you have any questions before January 10, 2019.
January 19, 2019 - 10:00am-12:00pm - Rising Sea Levels- Are we losing our coastal cities? (Deerfield) - The Deerfield Progressive Forum will host Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, for a discussion of sea level rise and its impacts on Florida. For 39 years progressives in South Florida have been enlightened by a series of weekly talks presented by nationally distinguished speakers on provocative current issues. Lively discussion follows each talk. The Deerfield Progressive Forum meets every Saturday morning from December through March from 10:00 AM-noon in Century Village, Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit their site here.
January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Preview Webinar - The 60-day 2019 Florida Legislative Session starts on March 5 and is scheduled to end on May 3 of 2019. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that may be up for consideration during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and will discuss how this could impact state and local governance and planning in Florida. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162191) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
January 28, 2019 – 2:00PM-5:00PM– Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation– (Boynton Beach)– Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at Lakeside Medical Center, (39200 Hooker Highway, Belle Glade). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, complete this form and return by mail or email to Christine Shaw, Cshaw1@pbcgov.org.
January 28, 2019 – 2:30PM-6:00PM– Orange County Legislative Delegation– (Orlando)– Attend the Orange County Delegation meeting at the Orange County Administration Center, Commission Chambers (201 South Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email LD@ocfl.net to request an appearance form.
March 27, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Update Webinar - This free webinar is scheduled for a little more than three weeks into the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that are being considered during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and other legislation that may surface as the session progresses. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162194). 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, Florida Environmental Health Professionals, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
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.
Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River * Learn more about the plight of Fish Island in this WUFT News & UF College of Journalism and Communication publication.
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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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