environment

Everglades Bike Path: Yea Or Nay?

Jul 14, 2015
JaxStrong / Flickr via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The window for public comment on the latest Everglades tourism project is closing soon. The controversial River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) would be a 75-mile bike path running along U.S. 41 from Naples to Miami.

NOAA: Saharan Dust Clouds Suppressing Hurricanes

Jul 7, 2015
NRL-Monterey

South Florida's air has been dustier than usual this week. 

The dust has come from across the Atlantic, originating from dust storms in the Sahara desert and being pushed towards the Americas by winds and tropical waves.

While the current influx of dust-filled air may be a hazard for people with respiratory conditions, scientists say it also brings with it a more positive effect.

Jimi Sadle / National Park Service

Federal wildlife managers in the Florida Keys are planning controlled burns on Big Pine Key this summer to help the Bartram's hairstreak butterfly.

The inch-long butterfly was added to the federal Endangered Species List last August. It lives only in pine rocklands and only a few fragments of that habitat remain in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Environmentalists Call For End To Sugar Cane Burning

Jun 29, 2015
Richard Riley via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Every harvest season, sugar farmers in Florida light controlled fires to burn off the leaves on the sugar cane plant. Only the stalks remain, waiting to be cut down, transported to mills and refined into sugar.

The Sierra Club says the practice is outdated and harmful to public health. The group’s Florida branch recently hosted a Big Sugar Summit in West Palm Beach to call for an end to cane burning.

Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit this week -- with the state legislature as their target. The coalition claims lawmakers shortchanged environmental spending in this year's budget, going against the will of the voters.

The coalition is made up of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida. These groups claim lawmakers put millions of dollars that should go to buying land for conservation efforts, and used it for expenses not allowed by Amendment 1.

Florida Power & Light Company

The Public Service Commission last year approved Florida Power and Light's plan to go fracking for natural gas in Oklahoma.

Even then, it was clear the utility planned to charge Florida rate payers for the project in another state, and advocates at the Public Counsel's Office filed suit to stop it. The suit is pending, but now the PSC has voted again.

Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority

The Florida Keys rely on the state for help with big-ticket environmental projects like central sewers and buying land. The island chain is an Area of Critical State Concern and is under a state mandate to clean up nearshore waters by replacing septic systems and cesspits.

Three Things To Know This Hurricane Season

Jun 19, 2015
NASA/Rob Gutro / Flickr

For five months each year, the warm climate that makes Florida famous creates the ideal conditions for storms to brew. Florida hasn’t been directly hit by a hurricane in 10 years, and roughly two weeks into hurricane season the tropics seem quiet. So far.

Still, residents and emergency responders alike must be prepared for any extreme weather. Representatives from Florida Power and Light, the National Hurricane Center and the Department of Public Safety recently met in West Palm Beach to discuss what’s expected this hurricane season and what residents need to know to stay safe.

Earl Leatherberry/flickr

Florida voters passed Amendment 1 last November, and funding to carry out the amendment was considered a priority when lawmakers went into the regular session in March. The amendment is also known as the Water and Land Conservation Initiative.

For the next 20 years, the amendment requires that one–third of the revenue from a real estate tax known as documentary stamps goes toward environmental preservation.

Mark Hedden / WLRN

A 33-year-old Big Pine Key man faces a third-degree felony charge after state wildlife officers say he shot and killed an endangered Key deer because it was eating his plants.

Big Pine Key, an island about 40 miles northeast of Key West, is part of the National Key Deer Refuge. The refuge was created in 1957 to protect the diminutive deer, which had been hunted to the extent there were an estimated 55 left.

Flickr/mathias appel

Should chimpanzees -- humanity's closest living relatives in the animal kingdom -- have the same rights that you do?

A South Florida attorney says they should.  And while Steven Wise hasn't gotten a judge to agree with him yet, he did get a New York State Supreme Court justice last week to admit that the idea was "extremely interesting and well argued."  

KEENPRESS Photography/flickr

The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has taken up the cause of climate change in Florida. The national group claims 600,000 members or supporters around the country with more than 100,000 of them in Florida. It's funded by donations and grants.

EEN is part of the Floridians for Solar Choice coalition, which is pushing a constitutional amendment that would allow Floridians to buy electricity directly from someone other than a utility company.

On April 20, 2010, a wellhead a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

In the subsequent leak, more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled out. On the Gulf’s surface, the oil covered up to 68-thousand square miles – an area roughly equal to the size of Florida.

Daniel Ducassi

President Barack Obama visited the Everglades last week to commemorate Earth Day and to talk about the risks climate change poses to South Florida, the nation, and the world. 

"If we don't act, there may not be an Everglades as we know it," the president said.

The president also used the opportunity to chide Governor Rick Scott for his administration’s unofficial ban of the phrase "climate change."

flguardian2 / Flickr Creative Commons

  Two big financial questions remain unanswered as the state Legislature enters its last days of the 2015 regular session – how will Florida's government spend money on health care and the environment?

Billions of dollars are on the line.

The dual debates over Medicaid and Amendment 1 are not linked except for the disagreement between Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, over how much money to spend on the health of Floridians and Florida's environment.

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