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Environment

Worries Bloom Over Lake Okeechobee Algae

Jun 25, 2018

There are new fears about algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

Florida wildlife officials are awarding $250,000 to five organizations to research new ways to remove invasive lionfish from deep-water habitats.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants discharges of polluted water out of Lake Okeechobee redirected elsewhere.

The U.S. Navy is dropping live bombs in a national forest in Florida this week.

The Orlando Sentinel reports the bombs began falling in the Ocala National Forest Monday. The bombing by Jacksonville's Naval Air Station jets at the Pinecastle Range Complex will continue through Thursday.

A proposal to extend state road 836 — the Dolphin Expressway — in Miami-Dade County could imperil future funding for Everglades restoration, critics say.

Members of the Hold the Line Coalition, a group of transportation and environment organizations, oppose extending the 836 expressway into wetland and agricultural areas outside Miami-Dade's urban development boundary. The proposed 14-mile expansion is intended to alleviate traffic in the Kendall area by providing commuters an alternative to Florida's Turnpike.

On the western edge of the Florida Everglades sits 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) of gator-infested swampland, and a private firm is making big money selling it off.

The Panther Island Mitigation Bank isn't another Florida land boondoggle, but rather is part of a federal system designed to restore wetlands across the United States. Panther Island's owners preserved one of the nation's last stands of virgin bald Cyprus, a place where wood storks, otters and other native flora and fauna have returned since they removed invasive plants.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A red tide algae bloom is persisting along Sarasota County beaches. Background concentrations of the toxic organism Karenia brevis are typical in Gulf waters, but very low to medium concentrations have been recorded across parts of Florida's west coast. 

Courtesy of Jacob Campoamor

In a rare sighting last weekend, boaters spotted multiple whale sharks off the coast of Anna Maria Island.

That has grabbed the attention of scientists at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, who are now asking the public to report other sightings.

The American Petroleum Institute wants to expand oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast.  API says safety isn’t a concern this time. 

An invasive and destructive pest has been identified in the farmlands near Miami, Florida agriculture officials said Tuesday.

City of Sarasota

Even though Subtropical Storm Alberto only brushed the coast of Florida last month, at least one of its beaches experienced some significant damage.

Sam Newlon / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority displayed a 40-foot electric bus Wednesday. Even though the bus was running, the loudest part of the presentation was the rain falling outside and cars speeding past.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Despite only receiving 1.28 inches of rain during the first named storm of the season, Pasco County officials say they pulled out all the stops to test its preparedness.

Wikimedia Commons

Changes are coming to Tampa Electric's coal-fired Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach. 

As part of their “Big Bend project," TECO will spend $853 million to convert one of its coal units, Unit 1, to use natural gas. Another coal unit, Unit 2, will be shut down in 2021. 

Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman for TECO, said this move is part of the companies move away from coal by 2023.

"This Tampa Electric project is part of our strategy to reduce our carbon footprint," said Jacobs.

Sea-level rise is going to cost Broward County -- and leaders don't know yet how they're going to pay.

A roundtable meeting in Davie on Thursday brought together more than 40 elected officials, city staff and business leaders from across Broward. Many expressed concern over a lack of funding for sea-level rise adaptation projects.

Ron Wallace, the city engineer for Parkland, said he's concerned about drainage in South Florida's current system, which moves water from west to east.

Advocacy Groups Say Florida Parks At Risk By Offshore Drilling

May 24, 2018

Eleven national parks in Florida are threatened by White House proposals to open to oil drilling currently protected parts of the nation’s outer continental shelf and to revise the 2016 Well Control Rule, according to a report released Wednesday by environmental conservation groups. 

If you thought sea-level rise was the greatest immediate threat to South Florida’s future, you may need to think again.

There’s growing concern that the perception of the sea-level rise threat by insurers, banks and investors might submerge South Florida before rising seas do.

Scott Calls For Preparations As Storm Looms

May 23, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday directed the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to put high-water vehicles in position to respond as the National Hurricane Season monitored a large area of showers that extended from the northwestern Caribbean across Cuba and into the Florida peninsula.

Wikipedia Commons

A new solar co-op is being formed in Sarasota to leverage the power of group buying to get solar power installed in homes and businesses. The co-op will begin Wednesday.

Bobbie O'Brien/WUSF

Parts of Florida are experiencing several days of rain, which is expected in a state notorious for its afternoon thunderstorms. But May is supposed to be one of Florida’s driest months.

With the dry season experiencing this much rainfall, Floridians could face the threat of severe flooding when the rainy season starts.

Florida is marking a milestone in its attempt to control an infestation of Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

Hundreds of opponents of offshore oil drilling gathered at Florida beaches and held hands.

Hands Across the Sand

An annual protest against oil drilling off Florida's coasts will once again be held Saturday. Clearwater Beach will host one of the main events for "Hands Across the Sand."

As the start of hurricane season nears, National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham wants South Florida residents to make a plan now. On Sundial, the former journalist discusses the science of forecasting, how he communicates impacts and the importance of working across industries when it comes to hurricane preparedness.

He recently spoke at the 32nd Annual Governor's Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach. The conference is held before the start of each hurricane season and offers sessions on hurricane preparedness and communication. 

Crews have sealed a giant sinkhole that opened up beneath a fertilizer plant waste pond nearly two years ago sending millions of gallons of polluted water into Florida's main drinking water aquifer.

A gigantic $4 billion retail and entertainment complex won government approval Thursday after years of debate, greenlighting what promises to be the largest mall in North America, just a few miles from the environmentally sensitive Everglades.

Geologists are warning that Hawaii's Kilauea volcano — which has been belching toxic gas and oozing lava into a residential area for the past week — could erupt explosively in the coming weeks.

The possibility of such a sudden eruption will increase as lava flows from Kilauea's summit crater down its face and magma falls below the water table, the U.S. Geological Survey said. That could create steam pressure that would then explode.

The volcano could then eject "ballistic rocks" of lava up to several feet in diameter, the USGS said.

Scott, Cabinet Eye Land Conservation Projects

May 9, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected next month to consider whether to spend nearly $11 million to help limit future development on four ranches and farms in four counties.

The proposals would add 8,388 acres to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations.

United States Department of Agriculture Firest Service.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are asking Floridians to help with a five-year review of 35 endangered or threatened fish, wildlife, and plants.  

Solar Project Unveiled To Serve Municipal Utilities

May 7, 2018

A dozen municipal electric utilities will purchase power from a solar-energy project in Central Florida that is expected to start operating in 2020, the Florida Municipal Power Agency announced Friday. 

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