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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

In the News, March 11, 2014

By Ryan Smart on March 11th

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 the full 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. Read Out 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. Read Critics: 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.” Read Curtailing 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. Read Constitutional referenda.

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