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In the News, May 9, 2014

By Ryan Smart on May 9th

Erin Sullivan reports in Folio Weekly – “(Florida) legislators addressed everything from the establishment of a Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame to penalties for the possession of spiny lobsters to creating an official Florida Storytelling Week. But one issue they refused to address, at least in any meaningful way, is the potentially devastating water shortage staring down the entire state.” Read Tapped out.

Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current – 2014 ended up not being the “Year of Water” in the Florida legislature. Ritchie provides an end of session summary on the fate of environment and natural resources legislation and funding. Read the full story here.

Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current – Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate steps to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers in the event of heavy rains this summer. Corps officials have previously stated that such actions could result in a breach of the Herbert Hoover Dike, jeopardizing public safety. Read the full story here.

In the News, March 27, 2014

By Ryan Smart on March 27th

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes: As bipartisan springs legislation advances in the Florida Senate, the Florida House refuses to even consider the bill. The board writes, “(House Speaker Will Weatherford) has said that any changes in water policy will have to wait until next year’s legislative session. Meanwhile, a different bill that would change water policy by weakening protections at the local level has been moving through the House. So who’s kidding whom?” The board concludes, “If House leaders won’t move soon, Gov. Rick Scott needs to push them to act. Scott, who has talked up his interest in protecting springs on the campaign trail, has the political muscle to do it. But does he have the will?” Read House must join Senate’s effort to rescue springs.

Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: SB 1464, the Senate companion to House Bill 703 by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, passed out of the Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee by a 4-1 vote. Before passing the bill was amended “to remove several objectionable sections.” Read Permitting bill gets substantial changes but still faces environmental opposition.

Bill Thompson reports in the Ocala Star Banner: Two dozen people spoke out against a proposed natural gas pipeline that would run from Alabama to South Florida at a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission public meeting yesterday. Read Regulators get an earful over planned gas pipeline.

The Public News Service reports: The Obama administration proposed a new rule this week to clarify which types of water have Clean Water Act protection. Currently, more than 20 million acres of wetlands and 2 million miles of streams are unprotected due to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Read Proposed rule would close gap in Florida water protection.

Tom Swihart writes in the blog Watery Foundation: According to a new paper by researchers at Columbia University Water Center, “Florida withdraws a lot of groundwater in relation to surface area.” Swihart writes, “There are some opportunities to increase aquifer recharge but the main solution to groundwater over-pumping is to reduce pumping. See the figures and find out more here.

In the News, March 26, 2014

By Ryan Smart on March 26th

Maggy Hurchalla writes in the Palm Beach Post: House Bill 703, Sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, is an assault on Florida’s waters and growth management policies. Hurchalla writes, “It’s particularly galling to have a legislator from as far away as you can get telling local residents they can’t plan for their future. It’s infuriating when local residents are dealing with a disaster that the state refuses to prevent. It’s doubly infuriating when the legislation is drafted by sugar companies that are causing the problem.” Read Residents must fight state assault on local comprehensive plans.

Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: Comprehensive springs protection and restoration legislation passed its first Senate Committee stop by a unanimous vote. Read Springs bill passage hailed as a “major victory” despite funding questions.

Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: After several small but important amendments to clarify the definition of reclaimed water and allow for greater public involvement in the process, legislation creating a study on the efficient use of reclaimed water passed its final committee stops in the Florida House and Senate. Read the full story here.

Mary Wozniak reports in News-Press.com: Rep. Ray Rodrigues, sponsor of two bills relating to the disclosure and exemption from public record laws of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracking process, says the bills are likely dead in the House this session. Read Fracking smacks a partisan wall.

In the News, March 18, 2014

By Ryan Smart on March 18th

Tom Swihart writes in the blog Watery Foundation: “Governor Reubin O’Donovan Askew richly deserves the many eulogies he is receiving. Martin Dyckman’s insightful and deeply-researched biography includes an amazing list of Askew’s accomplishments. A number of them demonstrate his commitment to Florida’s environmental future.” To see some of Governor Askew’s incredible accomplishments read Askew’s (water) legacy.

Bruce Ritchie writes in the Florida Current: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, looks to expand glamour camping (or “glamping”) in Florida’s aquatic preserves and state parks. Senate Bill 956 and House Bill 791 would allow DEP to contract with businesses to provide concessions in aquatic preserves. Environmental groups have expressed support for encouraging more people to visit aquatic preserves but  concerns remain over the scope and impact of activities permitted by the legislation. Read the full story here

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