Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: Environmental groups, including Florida Wildlife Federation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and Sierra Club will appeal a federal court ruling which the groups claim allows the state of Florida to set “polluter-friendly” water quality standards for Florida waters. Read thefull story here.
The Miami Herald editorial board writes: Florida should oppose a plan by the U.S. Interior Department to survey the Atlantic Ocean for oil and gas, which could potentially lead to drilling off the coast of states from Delaware to Florida. Scientists are concerned that the underwater explosions used to search for oil and gas deposits will injure, or possibly kill, dolphins and whales in the area. Read Don’t drill, baby.
Kevin Spear reports in the Orlando Sentinel: Following the purchase of more than 382,000 acres of land in Florida’s panhandle, the Mormon Church owns almost 2% of all Florida land. Read thefull story here.
1,000 Friends of Florida announces: 1,000 Friends of Florida President Charles Pattison has been appointed by Gov. Scott to serve on the East Central Florida Corridor Task Force. Find more information here.
The Ocala Star Banner editorial board writes: “When the Florida Legislature convenes for its 2014 session today, it will do so amid broad and long-awaited consensus that Florida cannot continue to ignore its water crisis.” The board continues, “We are stunned when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli both say they do not expect any ‘major changes’ in water policy this year… Weatherford, Crisafulli and the House need to get on board – and not next year.” ReadGranddaddy is losing the battle.
Aaron Deslatte reports in the Orlando Sentinel: Legislation which would have prohibited possessing, selling, trading, buying, shipping, or bartering shark fins in Florida, inspired by 13 year old animal activist Thomas Ponce, was amended to only strengthen the penalties for fishers caught cutting the fins off sharks at sea. Bill sponsor Senator David Simmons said the bill “would have died if it wasn’t changed.” ReadSenate guts shark-fin crack-down.
Dave Williams reports in the Atlanta Business Chronicle: Bruce Brown and Todd Silliman, attorneys who have been representing Georgia for 15 years in the tri-state “water wars” between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, are withdrawing from the cases. Read thefull story here.
Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has canceled its initiative to identify and sell “surplus” conservation lands. The effort has been criticized by citizens, environmental groups from across the state and legislators including State Senator Jack Latvala. DEP will now focus on evaluating and selling non-conservation lands, such as A.G. Holley State Hospital in Palm Beach County. ReadDEP ends stormy land-selling review, shifts focus to non-conservation lands.
Fred Hiers reports in the Ocala Star Banner: Members of a bipartisan group of Senators working on legislation to protect Florida’s springs remain positive that legislation can be passed this session despite calls to delay water policy from House leadership. Speaking about the possibility of passing springs legislation this year Florida Conservation Coalition coordinator Estus Whitfield says, “When the people speak loud enough… and often enough the political system listens. That’s the hope we have.” ReadWater issues looming as legislative session starts Tuesday.
David Guest writes in the Florida Times-Union: “When faced with something (as) sad and overwhelming (as the decline of Florida’s springs), there’s a tendency to say it is the result of progress. But springs pollution is both preventable and reversible.” ReadFlorida’s springs deserve protection.
Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: “For the past four years (Representative Jimmy) Patronis has introduced wide-ranging environmental bills that have garnered opposition and this year is no different.” House Bill 703, Rep. Patronis’ latest effort, will be heard today in the House Agricultural & Natural Resources Subcommittee. Read thefull story here.
Robert Knight writes in the Gainesville Sun: After more than a decade of concern over reduced spring and river flows and lower lake levels Florida’s water management districts continue to issue consumptive use permits without regard to the public’s interest. Knight writes, “If we lived in a logical world where the public commons was protected for the good of the public, this would be an easy cycle to break. Instead of issuing new and longer permits we would roll back the maximum pumping rates of the thousands of groundwater permits already in existence.” ReadWater claims stuck on repeat.
The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance announces: The Alliance has collected the requisite number of signatures to get a wetlands protection ordinance on the ballot in Wakulla County. The Alliance states, “Obtaining signatures from 30% of the county’s registered voters in each of the five districts… may be unprecedented in Florida’s history.” Read thepress release here.
Mike Wright reports in the Citrus County Chronicle: Senator Charlie Dean is determined to leave a legacy “as someone who did his best to restore the state’s pristine waterways to the condition he remembers as a boy growing up in Citrus County.” Dean is part of a bipartisan group of five Senators preparing to file comprehensive legislation to protect Florida’s springs. Responding to recent comments from House Speaker Will Weatherford that water policy will not be considered in the House this year, Dean said, “The five of us are not going to back down.” ReadDean: I ‘love my water’.
A new survey by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service finds: Floridians support spending state surplus money on protecting Florida’s springs, rivers, and lakes. 20% of survey respondents listed protecting Florida’s waters as the preferred use for surplus funds, second only to increasing education spending. Read the news release here.
Ray Henry reports in the Miami Herald: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal endorsed a plan to restrict water withdrawals from the Flint River by agricultural operations during droughts, potentially leading to more water reaching the Apalachicola River and Bay. Read thefull story here.
Frank Cerabino writes in the Bradenton Herald: “If clean water’s your goal, it’s not a good sign that your state’s environmental efforts are being applauded by The Fertilizer Institute.” Cerabino criticizes the state government for “trying to wiggle out of a court-negotiated consent decree it made with the EPA… for failing to enforce Clean Water Act pollution controls” and for opposing restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. ReadCounties fighting Florida to keep fertilizer from ruining waterways.