Happy Everglades Day!

By Rob Moher | Conservancy of Southwest Florida President and CEO

On April 7th, we celebrate the life, vision, accomplishments and dedication of a true Everglades hero — Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In tribute to Marjory, what could be more appropriate than to take a moment and contemplate the ecological and economic value of the Everglades, along with our own personal connection to this unique and beautiful ecosystem. Such reflection should include the both the good and the bad — how far we’ve come in restoring the greater Everglades ecosystem, and how far we have to go.

I am thrilled to report progress on that very issue. SB10, the Everglades Reservoir Bill, is moving forward. Thank you to everyone who responded to the Conservancy’s action alert regarding SB10 earlier this week. Your voices were heard loud and clear! The proposed amendments (PCS 920390) filed by Senator Rob Bradley (R) and co-sponsored by Senator Jack Latvala (R) were adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 16–2 margin.

This is a huge step forward for SB10 and the EAA Reservoir. Not only did the amendments rectify concerns raised by the prior amended version of the bill, but now SB10 incorporates greater flexibility for identifying the configuration of land needed for the EAA Reservoir project.

The Conservancy will continue to advocate for the best version of SB10 possible to advance this critical project for reducing harmful discharges to our estuaries and sending clean water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay. The Conservancy applauds and thanks Senate President Joe Negron, Senator Bradley, and Senator Latvala for their collective leadership on this effort.

Next stop for SB10 is a full Senate vote, likely next week — stay tuned for updates!

Click here to learn more.

On an unfortunate note, the Fracking Ban Bills (SB 442 and HB 451) are unlikely to pass in 2017 due to roadblocks from House leadership. Thank you to all who took action on our alert requesting the Speaker of the House and House Majority Leader allow HB 451 to have a fair hearing. Unfortunately, the leadership remains intractable.

Although the House Speaker and his Majority Leader may have stifled the bill from progressing this legislative session, the Conservancy and our partners remain committed to advocating for a ban on fracking in Florida. We will continue to work with the many state legislators who support our efforts to advance this issue until a ban is signed into law in Florida.

To learn more about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s position on this issue visit www.conservancy.org/our-work/policy/oil.

Other bills we are monitoring:

HB17 (Fine) and SB1158 (Passidomo) Local Regulation Preemption: Conservancy Opposes

The stated intent of the bills is to prohibit local governments from imposing new regulations on businesses or commerce. Examples cite “draconian interference” by local governments, including bans on Styrofoam cups and helium balloons. Such local bans would be prohibited by these bills. The Conservancy opposed preemption of local governmental authority. Fortunately, these bills are not moving in either chamber, and appear to be off the table this Session.

HB 419 (Altman) and SB1036 (Mayfield): Permits for Mangrove Alteration & Trimming: Conservancy Opposes

These companion bills would authorize DEP to issue permits for mangrove alteration and trimming to owners of residential lots containing five acres or less. The bills would allow for up to 69% of the mangrove shoreline to be impacted, if the owner indicates the mangroves shoreline was planted. The Conservancy opposed this bill. These bills also are not moving in either chamber, making them a non-issue this Session.

HB997 (Killebrew) and SB996 (Perry): Administrative Procedures: Conservancy Opposes

These bills would require an award of attorney fees and costs to be made to a prevailing party in certain administrative proceedings. This would have a devastating effect on the ability for small citizen organizations to challenge bad local decisions, and the Conservancy opposed. It is with great relief that I am able to inform you these bills continue to be Temporarily Postponed, making it unlikely they will rear their ugly heads again this Session.