Environmental update from Tally
Martin County,Fla- Last week, Paul Laura, Richard Silvestri, and Jerry Buechler traveled to Tallahassee. Richard Silvestri is also with FLAF (Floridians against Fracking)
Here is the report:
From Paul Laura Chair of Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus Florida.
Objective: To visit legislators and discuss our support (opposition) to some of the legislation being proposed. Richard Silvestri, Jerry Buechler and I were there to help support ReThinkEnergy who were organizing a rally for Fracking and other environmental issues.
Areas of environmental interest included:
- ● Southern Reservoir based on SB#10
- ● Bio-waste
- ● Fracking
- ● Coral Reef Conservation Area
- ● Amend #1 Land Acquisition Funding
- ● IRL funding
- ● Adding additional language to existing law to protect St. Lucie County Watershed(Sunbreak Farms)
- ● Solar
- ● Water Management
- A common theme that we heard in the House was the frustration to get bills with an environmental theme to be heard in the House due to its leadership. They hope with term limits and more sympathetic leadership will lead to more progress in the future. From the discussion that we had with the environmental aide for Sen. Negron, it appears that the availability of much more land for SB10 reservoir at this time is not optimistic. There is some effort to finalize 3800 acres of land but currently no other land appears to be available. The total projected currently available will be:
- A1 = 17K acres
- A2 = 14K acres
- Additional land available = 3.8K acres (Next to A2)
Total = ~35K acres.
It should be noted that the Federal Government is discussing subsidies for commodities this year. Sugar is one of them. Perhaps there will be some “horse trading” due to the effects on health by sugar and the move to reduce subsidies. This might free up some more land….stay tuned.
Fracking looks to be difficult again to pass this year. The subcommittees are ending their review of bills that will affect the Fracking legislation. Our support this week has had an effect on the State Senate with a hearing scheduled but the way forward in the House is uncertain.
Coral Reef Conservation Area bill looks to pass. This bill has bipartisan support and will set up a Park Reserve for Coral Reef from St. Lucie Inlet down to Miami.
Amendment #1 Land Acquisition Trust Fund is moving forward.
This bill would Require a specified annual appropriation of $100MM/yr to the Florida Forever Trust Fund. It would limit where the money could be used to prevent absconding these funds for other than the intended uses. There is also $50MM for the Florida Springs and additional monies to pay off past bond debt.
The IRL Trust Fund bills ( HB 339; SB 786) submitted by Rep Gayle Harrell and Sen Mayfield does not look to have enough support.
It provides appropriation of $50MM for certain projects related to Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan; authorizes DEP to make grants for such projects; directs DEP to submit annual report to Governor & Legislature.
Larry Lee (D), Rep St. Lucie County
had submitted a bill HB 641 to add some further definition to current state law that prohibits increasing Nitrogen and Phosphorus levels in the fragile watersheds of which St. Lucie Watershed is considered impaired. Rep Lee proposed creating specific targets short and long term defining specific methodologies and schedules to meet these water quality improvements.
Of specific concern are open air Bio-waste composting which poses specific risks to health of the waterways, the air we breathe and the drinking water aquifers. Gov. Scott reduced the grants at the beginning of his administration which eliminated testing of nutrients unless local governments made up the difference. Without data, he cannot be critiqued.
*****Recent findings by Orca show that the Harbor Branch conclusion in which Septic Systems were a main cause of Algae bloom appears incorrect.****
Orca has shown that a significant variable contributing to Algae bloom was due to Cattle and Human Bio-waste runoff from agriculture area. The tracer that Harbor Branch used, Sucralose, a synthetic sweetener, is not reliable due to its stability and long half-life. This tracer accumulates over time in reusable water which is used for lawns and golf courses; not necessarily from septic systems. It was this tracer that Harbor Branch used to base many of their conclusions. This new data from Orca points to the urgent need to revisit the St. Lucie watershed and develop plans for treating the agricultural run-off or controlling use of bio-waste in the watershed. Rep Larry Lee (D) has submitted HB641 to better regulate the amount of nutrients in Florida law. If passed, it would help to contain Sunbreak Farms. Unfortunately, it is not expected to be taken up at this session.
A coastal management bill SB 174 to provide funding to maintain the shorelines of Florida is passing through Senate committees but again the House may be a “high” hurdle.
Solar Energy looks to be off the “radar” for this year.
Controlling one use plastic and deposit on bottles SB1756 is seeing some interest in the Senate but again uncertainty in the House.
One Bill that I am pleased to report HB 521/SB 574 for State control of trimming of trees and general landscaping does not seem to have the support it needs to pass.
Senate Bill 1506 is an outstanding bill that will have difficulty to be heard in the House and may have difficulties continuing through Senate Committees. The bill is about Water Management. Requiring district water management plans for districts including Outstanding Florida Springs to include certain maximum sustainable groundwater withdrawal estimates; revising the criteria for determining whether certain water supply development projects are given first consideration for funding assistance to include consideration of whether a project maximizes water conservation, etc.