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Environment

Dry weather has caused the water level in Lake Okeechobee drop below the minimum range targeted for South Florida’s drinking water supply.

Severe Drought Developing in Florida

Apr 3, 2017

It’s the heart of wildfire season in Florida, and more than 90 percent of the state is in a drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center classified the situation as “severe” in nine counties Thursday.

Florida Forest Service reports show that wildfires have scorched almost 60,000 acres since January 1st. State Climatologist David Zierden attributes the active fire season to the shortage of rain, which he says is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

Questions Linger Over Negron’s Water Priority

Apr 3, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron's priority of creating a reservoir to protect rivers and estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee appears to have a murky future.

Jim Reid / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One of the symbols of Florida is no longer an endangered species. That's according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced Thursday they're downlisting the manatee from endangered to threatened. Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal endangered species list was issued in 1967.

More manatees than ever - 6,300 - were counted during the winter, when they congregate around springs and warm power plant outfalls. But last year, more than one hundred manatees were killed, mostly by boaters.

State lawmakers want to cut fees for the manufacturers of harmful pesticides. That could make it cheaper for chemical companies to sell their products in the state. But a critic of the measure is worried how the change could affect farmworkers’ health.

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Hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1, but preparations are already underway. The National Weather Service outlined some new ways it's warning Floridians about possible danger at a briefing Tuesday in Tampa. 

After winning big at the ballot box in November, solar energy supporters are worried a House proposal could dim the victory.

A new study shows shark-related diving in Florida is a growing business, generating some $221 million annually for shops and other providers.

Across the country, advocates are hailing industrial hemp as a miracle crop. Some Floridians even think the plant could surpass oranges as an agricultural powerhouse. But lawmakers in the capitol are urging caution.

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A rally to drum up support for a bill that would ban fracking for oil and gas in Florida is expected to draw people from around the state Wednesday morning on the steps of the state capitol. Hundreds are expected to attend from throughout the state.

The rally will feature appearances by State Senators Jack Latvala of Pinellas County and Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale. They're backing a bill to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has been introduced by Sen. Dana Young of Tampa.

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

New research shows pollution in the Gulf of Mexico is coming from a source close to home: our closets. A team of scientists say plastic microfibers in polyester, nylon and acrylics are washing out of household fabrics and into the ocean.

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.

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