PolitiFact, a joint effort by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, finds: Governor Scott’s claim that his Administration has “invested record funding in protecting our environment” is false. The report says, “Scott’s statement during the speech likely left listeners with the impression that his investment in the environment in general is a record, and that would be misleading.” Read thefull report here.
Kevin Spear reports in the Orlando Sentinel: The governing boards of Florida’s water management districts lack diversity. The state’s three largest water management districts – South Florida, Southwest Florida, and St. Johns – “have 30 board seats combined and of those, three are held by women, two by Hispanics and none by blacks or people who describe themselves as environmentalists,” Spear writes. ReadOut of touch water boards.
Bruce Ritchie reports in the Florida Current: “Members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee said this week their email inboxes were jammed by Martin County residents responding to (House Bill 703).” The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, weakens home rule and the ability of local governments to protect environmental and water resources. HB 703 is opposed by the Florida League of Cities, 1,000 Friends of Florida, and the Florida Conservation Coalition, along with other environmental groups. ReadCritics: Proposal undermines 2011 law encouraging locals to make growth decisions.
The Ocala Star Banner editorial board writes: “(House Bill 703, by Rep. Jimmy Patronis) contains unnecessary requisites that would hamstring local government and overturn legitimate actions taken to protect our environment, something on which the current Legislature and governor have a less than stellar record.” The board continues, “Passage of the bill would be nothing less than another crass, Tallahassee-based power grab to overrule the will of voters, their elected representatives and constitutionally enacted local policies…If Patronis won’t listen to reason, we urge our legislative delegation to join (Rep. Clovis) Watson and work to kill HB 703 in its tracks.” ReadCurtailing home rule.
Tom Swihart writes on the blog Water Foundation: Almost exactly 38 years ago the voters of Florida approved a constitutional amendment granting Florida’s five water management districts the power to levy ad valorem taxes. Swihart urges all who “love Florida” to consider supporting the Land and Water Legacy Amendment this November. ReadConstitutional referenda.
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.