Environmental & Natural Resources



Senate Reworking Water Funds

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Suncoast 2 Opposition Seeking Funding (Update added)

Suncoast 2 is planned to be a 4 lane (approved for 8 lanes) toll road from the Hernando/Citrus county line north to
SR 44 in Citrus County.  No one is sure, except maybe FDOT, where Suncoast 2 will go after SR 44. It could go north to Norvel Bryant (CR486) or terminate at 44, sending traffic east through Inverness to I-75 or to US 41 to go to points north towards Ocala and Gainesville or to a very crowded US 19 in the center of Crystal River. The public has been left in the dark about this mysterious route.

The projected traffic on Suncoast 2 to SR 44 is woefully small much like the north section of the existing Suncoast.  It is noteworthy that many years after completion of the Suncoast Parkway the road does not generate enough in tolls to pay for itself. Extending the road into Citrus County will not produce enough revenue to pay for the bonds. Yet the state is willing to spend $257 million on this 13 mile stretch into Citrus County. Governor Scott put $150 M into the budget for it but won't say why or where it is coming from.  One can only speculate about the intent and feasibility as no studies have been done to assess the impact of ending at 44 or going “somewhere north” and not to US 19 as was the original plan.

The I-75 task force concluded that improvements to I-75 should be the first priority. But as long as Suncoast 2 remains on the books routes other than I-75 are likely to dominate. Certainly other cities like Inverness and neighborhoods will suffer if these alternative routes prevail.

A non-profit has been formed to stop Suncoast 2 until the northern route is known and all stakeholders have been empowered. The name is: Friends of ETNA Turpentine Camp. We are seeking donations for legal help. Donations can be sent to Friends of ETNA Turpentine Camp, PO Box 75, Floral City, Florida 34436. Below is a link to articles from the Dec/Jan edition of the Suncoast Standard that gives information on ETNA and the history of the proposed road.

https://indd.adobe.com/view/78e95d1c-87b8-46c7-bcbe-0a0b6376588c

"The Task Force did not approve as first on its list the construction of this new road west of I-75 but put it last. Its first choice was to improve I-75 and also promote traffic taking alternate routes west of I-75, specifically SR 44 from I-75 in Wildwood to this new SC 2 segment ending at SR 44 in the middle of Citrus County. Governor Scott for unknown reasons put in last year's budget $150 M to make this road go. Total cost for the road is $257 M or over 1/4 of a BILLION DOLLARS to go where? There is no approval from the Task Force to build any further in the near future. We do know it will destroy the Etna Turpentine Camp that is on the National Register and actually was a town up until 1926 and part of the main industry then in Citrus County and in Florida. It's a lost part of history as they used leased convict labor comprised mainly of African-Americans arrested by local sheriffs on trumped up minor charges and forced to work in horrible conditions and be whipped if they did not make their quota. We know also that it will destroy 700 acres of the Withlacoochee State Forest which it traverses for 7 miles. The SC 2 also runs in its entirety over the Brooksville Ridge which is the main recharge area for the first magnitude coastal springs that are home to the manatees of world fame. SWFWMD actually in its infinite wisdom approved the road for being eight lane and allows them to use closed depressions for drainage ponds. The Floridan Aquifer in Citrus County has no confining clay layer to speak of and these depressions are indicators of fractures and conduits in the karst geology of the Brooksville Ridge. So where does road pollution and spills go? Right to the springs!!! I learned all this from SWFWMD's own research which they refused to follow as the directors now are all yes men to Governor Scott just like all the other water boards. Scott's $150 M could be better spent on the Everglades projects. It's a lot of money!!! People don't seem to get that. This is not pocket change. And for a 13 mile road in a county with just 140,000 residents with the second highest poverty rate in the state and a population 1/3rd of which is over 65. What's the purpose here, Governor Scott? So please consider supporting our efforts to stop this totally useless expenditure of tax dollars."
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Clean Manufacturing of EPS, Expanded Polystyrene , Idea to promote job growth in Citrus County?


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Congress OKs law allowing aerial hunting of bears, wolves in Alaska 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
 
Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 8:23 PM

WASHINGTON — Congress has approved a bill that would allow aerial hunting of grizzly bears and killing of bears and wolves near dens on federal lands in Alaska.
The Senate gave final legislative approval Tuesday to a measure that repeals an Obama-era rule on hunting on Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said last year the rule would promote ethical hunting practices while maintaining sustainable populations of bears, wolves and coyotes.(Read) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/congress-oks-law-allowing-aerial-hunting-alaska-article-1.3004994

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We are entering the 3rd week of the legislative session and several environmentally-related bills are being amended and making their way through committees. I’ve posted FCC's latest legislative update to the FCC website. Click here to find out the latest news on bills you’re interested in.
 
Here are some highlights from my latest update:
 
  • SB 1700 would provide greater protection for Florida’s waters, particularly Florida’s Outstanding Florida Springs.
  • SB 10 has been dramatically amended. In addition to including Senate President Negron’s plan to acquire land south of Lake Okeechobee for a reservoir, this bill now also shifts state policy away from acquiring land for conservation toward acquiring land for water supply development. This policy shift is accomplished in part by redirecting the remaining $3.3 billion in bonding authority for the Florida Forever program (Florida’s preeminent conservation land acquisition program) to a new program for water resource protection and development. Debt service for these new water bonds, up to $300 million annually, would be paid from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund created by Amendment 1 in 2014.
  • Last year, the FCC wrote a letter to Governor Scott requesting that he fill a vacancy on the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC or Commission) before the Commission reviewed revisions to Florida’s Human Health-Based Water Quality Criteria. This year, SB 198 would establish a deadline of 90 days for filling vacancies on the ERC so vacancies cannot stand indefinitely as they have in the past. Both SB 198 and its House companion (HB 861) are being heard this week in committee. HB 861 is being heard at noon today.
  • SB 90, the bill that would implement 2016’s Constitutional Amendment 4 to encourage renewable energy, has passed 2 of its 4 committees. Two companion bills to SB 90 have been filed in the House. One of them includes several provisions not called for by the Constitutional Amendment.
 
Please continue to contact your representatives in the Legislature to let them know how you feel about pending environmental legislation. Do not hesitate to reach out to the FCC and its member organizations if we can be of any assistance.


Additional Information:

 Effective Date: 7/1/2017 
Last Action: 3/15/2017 Senate - Introduced -SJ 214 
Location: In committee/council (EP)
Bill Text: Web Page | PDF 
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  • PV Magazine Updates

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  • Students Find Leaky Toilets

  • In celebration of the EPA’s “We’re for Water” initiative, Citrus County Utilities challenged 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classrooms to test home toilets for leaks in the third annual Classroom Leak Detection Challenge.  Twenty-nine classes from six schools tested 593 toilets using dye tablets provided by the utility. 

     “The students were surprised to learn that toilet leaks occur within the tank and bowl, not necessarily outside the toilet (leaking water on the floor),” said Forest Ridge Elementary 5th grade science teacher Kathy Kopp.  Her first year taking the challenge, Kopp added that “it gave students a real-life activity to share with their parents and other family members.”

    One leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day, according to water conservation manager Debra Burden.  The challenge prompted students and parents to find 90 leaky toilets that if fixed could result in 18,000 gallons a day in water savings.  Nearly fifty percent of parents indicated they had already fixed the leak.

    Participating classes were also entered into a chance drawing to win a pizza party.  During the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners May 9, 2017 meeting, Chairman Scott Carnahan drew 5th grade teacher Kristen Rolfe’s classroom of Forest Ridge Elementary.  The pizza is being generously donated by Angelo’s Pizzeria.

    Toilet leaks are often caused by flapper deterioration.  The flapper is the rubber device that opens and closes to allow water into the toilet tank. When a flapper does not fit snuggly, water leaks from the tank into the toilet bowl, and then goes down the drain without the need of flushing.  Flappers usually cost less than $20 and are simple enough for the average homeowner to replace on their own.

    Because it wants to ensure water supplies last for future generations, Citrus County Utilities is doing its part to save water.  Learn more about water conservation by visiting www.citrusbocc.com/waterres/conservation and take the I’m for Water pledge.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created “We’re for Water” as a national campaign to educate consumers about water-saving behaviors and WaterSense labeled products.

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    "Public blasts DEP over new water toxics limits," Tallahassee Democrat, 5/17/16

  • "Florida Proposes Tripling Amount Of Benzene That Can Be Polluted Into State Waters," ThinkProgress, 5/17/16


    "House rejects attempts to impose health restrictions on oil and gas fracking," Tampa Bay Times, 1/26/16
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    Oil, Gas Exploration to Begin Within Big Cypress National Preserve

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    Keeping Your Lawn Green with NO WATER
    Hey folks, Don't water and fertilize your grass to make it green...paint it! It's cheaper, saves on fertilizer costs and mowing and best of all, saves and protects water. Golf courses have been doing it for decades!!!
    Roger Dobronyi...

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    SOUTH FLORIDA WILDLANDS ASSOCIATION

    Dear Friends,
     Fresh off their defeat in the Florida Supreme Court in February (the Supreme Court refused to hear their case), Florida Power and Light (FPL) is back at it - trying hard to open up wetlands along the east side of Everglades National Park to 6 miles of massive new power lines.  In the nutshell, FPL, the state's most powerful (and generous) lobbyist, would be the beneficiary of two identical bills now making their way through the Florida House and Senate.  HB 1055 in the House and SB 1048 in the Senate ("Linear Transmission") changes the rules under which the Florida District Court of Appeals decided last April that FPL's power lines could not go forward at this location.
     
    In the nutshell, the District Court determined that these power lines would cause "irreversible" harm to wetlands, ecology, and wildlife in the area - and were legitimately prohibited under Miami-Dade County's protective "East Everglades Ordinance."  What these new bills do is bring in a subtle change - and allow an agency such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to provide a "variance" to a company such as FPL (in other words - give them a permit) - if it would cause economic hardship for the applicant.  This change would also apply to other protective local ordinances if a power plant or power lines were involved.
     
    This is absolute nonsense.  The County's East Everglades Ordinance, the Everglades National Park Protection and Expansion Act of 1989, the National Park Service's Land Protection Plan for the East Everglades ALL emphasized the critical ecological importance of this land for the health of the Everglades and its irreplaceable fauna and flora.  All of this land was supposed to be managed as "park." The East Everglades contain the famous "Shark River Slough" - the lifeline of fresh water into Everglades National Park.  These power lines have no place in this location.  None whatsoever.
     
    The bills referenced are currently being fast-tracked through the Florida legislature.  The House version is still winding its way through - but the Senate version may come up for a floor vote very soon.  Please - we're asking all Floridians to contact both their State Senator and State Representative and urge them to vote NO on "Linear Transmission" - SB 1048 in the Florida Senate and HB 1055 in the Florida House.  Find your elected legislators here - and make those two calls (start with your senator).  Message machines will be on if no answer - and leave your name and address along with your message:
     
    http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx
     
     
    Best Regards,
     
    Matthew Schwartz
    Executive Director
    South Florida Wildlands Association
    P.O. Box 30211
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33303
    954-634-7173
    https://www.facebook.com/southfloridawild
     
     
    P.S.  Learn a bit more about the projects we take on at the link below.  Tax-deductible contributions are always a big help to the work we do:
     
    http://southfloridawild.org/donate/
     
     
    A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE FLORIDA DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. REGISTRATION #: CH32213

    South Florida Wildlands Association
    P.O. Box 30211
    Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33303
    This email was sent to: rfroscow@snet.net
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    Environmental Impact of Peat Mining

    Information for those that use peat moss in yards and gardens. Negative impact we never knew before! 

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     For Nature Lovers


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     Lawmakers push for fracking ban in Florida


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    (This Petition is still active and needing signatures) Now needed more than ever to ensure the Fl environment isn't destroyed with new regulations and laws being removed!

    Tell DEP: Don't allow more toxic fracking chemicals in Florida's water

    Petition to Florida Department of Environmental Protection:
    "Protect Florida's water. Don't weaken standards to allow more toxic chemicals in our state waters, including chemicals like benzene that are used in fracking."
    Sign Petition    You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.
    According to reports this week from the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida officials are preparing to weaken restrictions on two dozen toxic chemicals in Florida’s water — including tripling the allowable level of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical used in Fracking.1
    Thanks to public pushback, fracking still isn’t allowed in Florida, but the fracking industry is trying hard to change that. This plan to increase allowable benzene levels could be a backdoor attempt to help pave the way for fracking in the Sunshine State.2
    As the Department of Environmental Protection considers these new standards, this is a vital moment for Floridians to speak out for the safety of their water.
    Tell the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Protect Florida’s water. Don’t weaken toxic standards that could pave the way for fracking.
    While officials at the Department of Environmental Protection claim increasing benzene levels has nothing to do with fracking, it’s hard to take them at their word given the recent actions of the fracking industry in Florida.
    After the oil and gas industry gave at least $443,000 to top Republicans in the legislature, the Florida house voted in February to pass a bill that would open the door to fracking, preempt local fracking bans, and provide exemptions for companies to avoid disclosing what chemicals they’re using.

    Thanks to an outcry from Floridians, including nearly 10,000 CREDO Activists, the bill died in the state Senate. But we know the industry is not done — and we can’t let weakening toxics standards open the door for endangering Florida’s precious water with toxic fracking in fragile ecosystems.
    With 90 percent of Floridians relying on groundwater aquifers for their drinking water, increasing levels of toxic contaminants is dangerous. And with the state so vulnerable to impacts from a heating planet, any attempt to expand fossil fuels and fracking should be a 
    non-starter. Tell DEP: Don't allow more toxic fracking chemicals in Florida's waterTell the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Protect Florida’s water. Don’t weaken toxic standards that could pave the way for fracking <<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>