Environment

Lake Okeechobee and South Florida viewed from space.
public domain

The Florida House has signed off on Senate President Joe Negron’s top priority: a water reservoir South of Lake Okeechobee. After a quick stop and approval by the Senate, the measure is heading to Governor Rick Scott’s desk.

Florida Power and Light

A proposal allowing Florida Power and Light to charge customers for exploratory natural gas drilling has cleared a key senate hurdle, despite numerous consumer concerns. The company calls the move a hedge against future fuel increases.

 The Army Corp of Engineers releases water from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River because of heavy rains.
Credit Dale/flickr / Flickr

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says changes to the Senate’s plan to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee make the proposal better, but he’s refusing to cave on one big issue: whether to borrow money to finance the system.

An Ceann Corr via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/acreisner/

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.

A shrimp boat heads out into the Apalachicola Bay.
Jason Tereska / WFSU News

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.

The crowd waiting for the hearing.
Nick Evans

One of the most controversial spending programs of this year’s session passed its second committee stop Wednesday.  The reservoir project championed by Senate President Joe Negron raises conflicting concerns with supporters and opponents.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

The Trump Administration is rolling back a federal rule that protects small waterways like wetlands and creeks. One expert says the move could leave more Florida farmers and conservationists stuck in court battles.

Jason Tereska / WFSU News

Earlier this month, a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed lawyer ruled against Florida in its decades-long water war with Georgia. As the court prepares to make its final decision, lawmakers are going back to the legislative drawing board. WFSU News went to the coast to see what the ruling means for the struggling Apalachicola Bay and its world famous oysters.

boat on Apalachicola Bay
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn wants to throw out a federal plan that would reduce freshwater flowing into the struggling Apalachicola Bay. The move comes after a Supreme Court-appointed lawyer ruled against the state in the decades-long water war with Georgia. The Court has not yet made a final ruling. But Dunn and his colleagues are going back to the legislative drawing board to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers.

Buzzle.com

Florida is a prime breeding ground for invasive species that can threaten the state’s ecology and economy. For every lionfish or Burmese python that’s captured, thousands remain. And the sheer scope of the problem is pushing some lawmakers to ask how much of a difference state funding actually makes.

A view from the docks in the Apalachicola Bay.
Jason Tereska / WFSU News

A special master’s ruling favoring Georgia in a water fight impacting the Apalachicola Bay is being sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now two of Florida’s U.S. representatives are trying to hammer out another solution that could address Apalachicola’s problems.

sama093 via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sama093/

Florida’s invasive species problem can be daunting, with real implications for the state’s ecology and economy. The breadth of the issue is spurring some lawmakers to ask if state funding makes a difference.

Boats rest on a dock in the Apalachicola Bay
Jason Tereska / WFSU News

A special master is recommending the U.S. Supreme Court rule against Florida in a decades-long fight over water use. The move is a big blow to the Big Bend’s Apalachicola Bay, which depends on water from the system.

Kevin Cavanaugh via Smithsonian Institute / http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/fewer-freezes-let-floridas-mangroves-move-north-180948075/

Mangroves are quintessentially tropical and take root along the coast of the Everglades and the Keys where they are home to colorful fish and crabs. But these plants are not marooned in South Florida anymore. WFSU went searching for mangroves along the state’s Gulf Coast.

Suwannee River
Lee Reed

After years of debate, state regulators have approved a water sharing plan for the Suwannee and St Johns River basins. But conservationists argue the deal doesn’t do enough to protect Florida’s natural resources.

Spectra Energy Corp and NextEra Energy, Inc.

Some Florida environmental activists are hoping to channel public interest from one pipeline to another, by organizing a series of protests across the state. This year Native American leaders, activists and celebrities staged a months-long protest at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, spurring the Obama Administration to ultimately halt the project. Some Florida environmentalists are taking inspiration from the Dakota Access protests in their own fight against the Sabal Trail Pipeline

fishing boats
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Federal regulators plan to divert more water from the Apalachicola - Chattahoochee - Flint River System to the state of Georgia.

Boats rest on a dock in the Apalachicola Bay
Jason Tereska / WFSU News

Georgia is wrapping up its case this week in a nearly 30-year-old water fight with Florida and Alabama. The so-called water wars centers on consumption in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system shared by the states.

The Fenholloway River estuary thrives with life. This water is already mixing with wastewater from the plant.
LHatter / WFSUNews

The Fenholloway River runs 36 miles through rural Taylor County before flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. But it’s not found on most maps. For years, it was used for industrial dumping—a designation granted by the state in order to lure manufacturers to the area. Today, the Foley Cellulose Mill is the largest of those businesses. For many, the plant and the county are part of one communal identity, and when it comes to a fight over an impending wastewater pipeline, Taylor residents are siding with the company.

firefighter
Florida Forest Service

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting prescribed burning workshops for private landowners in North Florida.

UF/IFAS / http://www.wec.ufl.edu/oysterproject/

A decade of work is paying off for a team of coastal conservationists in Florida. A team of researchers won an $8.3 million grant to restore shrinking oyster reefs.

RCragun / By Rcragun - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7904193

One of Florida’s largest landowners may reducing its citrus output but it’s planning to keep its North Florida holdings agricultural.

The Sabal Trail drilling mud leak in the Withlacoochee River surrounded by a turbidity curtain.
Deanna Mericle via wwals.net

Drilling mud from the Sabal Trail pipeline is leaking into the Withlacoochee River in Georgia.  The spill in the Suwannee River tributary could impact the Floridan aquifer. 

Terry Ross via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/qnr/

Sea turtle conservation efforts in the Florida Panhandle are getting a million dollar boost to install sea turtle-friendly lighting.

United State Geological Survey / https://www.usgs.gov/news/and-after-photos-se-beach-dunes-lost-hurricane-matthew

New photos from the United States Geological Survey illustrate the damage Hurricane Matthew dealt to Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

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