Environment

Florida lawmakers are tackling a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, and other fracking-like well stimulation treatments in the state.  The Republican-sponsored bills in the House and Senate have gained a number of co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.  Supporters of the ban say the risks of surface water and ground water contamination from fracking make the technology too risky. They say the technique is incompatible with Florida’s geology.  Opponents worry about its impact on energy costs, Florida’s economy and point to the lack of a Florida-specific study on the potential impacts of fracking.  

Bondi Holds Out Hope In ‘Water Wars’

Mar 15, 2017

With the U.S. Supreme Court expected later this week to review a recommendation that would deny Florida relief in its decades-old water dispute with Georgia, Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday the case is not over yet.

U.S. Sugar Corp. says it would honor a previous agreement putting land south of Lake Okeechobee toward Everglades restoration.

U.S. Sugar staunchly has opposed a reservoir on the land, aimed at improving water flow after toxic algae blooms last year prompted emergency declarations in four counties.

But spokeswoman Judy Sanchez says if the Legislature approves the plan the company would honor a previous agreement authorizing the state to buy 153,000 acres.

Officials say unseasonable rainfall and poor conditions caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon contributed to a poor wading bird nesting season in Florida's Everglades.


Florida Plays Catch Up on Solar Energy Playing Field

Mar 13, 2017

Florida is looking toward solar energy as a solution — not only for its energy problems but for its economic issues as well. Though it is the third most populous state, it currently ranks fifth in the nation on solar energy yields. Florida Power and Light hopes to change this, with plans to add three solar sites by 2018 and eight more in the coming years.

Environmental groups are raising concerns about the Senate’s dramatically expanded plan to fight massive toxic algae blooms carpeting South Florida waterways.

The House Majority Leader says there’s a chance a hydraulic fracturing bill could pass the Florida Legislature this year.

Despite being known as the "Sunshine State," Florida lags behind others parts of the country when it comes to generating electricity through solar power. Florida is the third largest state by population in the U.S., but when it comes to harnessing the power of the sun, it's out-shined by states like California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

Florida Forest Service

In Florida, it's always wildfire season. But spring is the time of year when the risk is highest.

Wading bird nests in the Everglades were at their lowest number last year since 2008.

The Tamil word for python is "malaippāmpu." Translated literally, it means "mountain snake."

But two Tamil-speaking snake trackers from India, who are in South Florida to help with the region's python problem, think "water snake" would be a more appropriate name.

Turtle Nesting Season Calls For Citizen Awareness

Mar 2, 2017

Florida is a large nesting site for endangered sea turtles, such as the leatherback. Dr. Robbin Trindell leads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sea turtle management program. She warns curious bystanders can inadvertently harm a nesting sea turtle.

A proposal to build a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee could create more than 39,000 jobs, according to a study released Tuesday by the Everglades Foundation.

The state tourism industry calls it “Bragging Season”. To the weather community, the three-month period from December to February is referred to as meteorological winter. This year, however, many Floridians are asking themselves “what winter?”

 

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

“Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Sabal Trail has got to go…”

About 50 protesters in downtown Tampa in November chanted as they marched up and down Ashley Drive with signs that said "Protect our water" and "Solidarity with Standing Rock." This protest is one of many that have sprung up across Florida since construction began on the Sabal Trail Transmission Pipeline last summer.

Bill Would Block Bear Hunts

Mar 1, 2017

Black bears couldn't be hunted in Florida for a decade, while at least $1 million would be set aside so more people could purchase bear-resistant trash containers, under a measure filed Tuesday in the Senate.

The proposal (SB 1304) by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, also seeks to regulate burn schedules in state forests and parks to allow for the regrowth of oak trees, saw palmettos and other berry-producing plants that feed black bears.

"It is our obligation to ensure the preservation of the iconic species as well as the safety of our neighborhoods," Stewart said in a prepared statement.

During the moratorium, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would have to conduct a 5-year population trend study of black bears, which includes an impact of hunting. The bill is part of the continued reaction to a black-bear hunt in October 2015 in which 304 bears were killed. The hunt was the first in the state in two decades.

The children of farmworkers could get a chance to go to college for free under a state lawmaker’s plan. But one advocate is worried the requirements will put the scholarship out of reach for many.

The Everglades Foundation is touting the economic benefits of water storage south of Lake Okeechobee.

The state is spending $4 million to remove abandoned orange groves across Florida. That’s about four times the budget state agriculture officials had in past years for this effort. 

Steve Newborn/WUSF News

A 515-mile pipeline is being placed through northern and central Florida. When it's completed, it will supply natural gas from the North and Midwest to power plants throughout the state. And the construction has attracted protesters and fired up neighbors affected by the project.

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