VIDEO: Breaking down Florida’s 2021 Legislative Session

Florida's 2021 legislative session left much to be desired for those worried about environmental issues. Today's Clean Water Conversation dived into a number of bills that did damage this session. We heard input from Rep. Anna Eskamani (even as she dashed between our event and potential House floor votes happening simultaneously during special session in Tallahassee!), from Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters, Aliki Moncrief, as well as from our own Policy Director, Gil Smart and Executive Director Eve Samples. Each of them reminded us of the need to remain vigilant. Our voices matter, and together we have the numbers to impact environmental policy in Florida. If you missed the conversation today, you can find the full recording below. For more information [...]

Friends of the Everglades Legislative Report: 2021

We’re not sugarcoating it: The 2021 session of the Florida Legislature eroded environmental protections and failed to address the core of our state’s water-quality crisis: lack of enforceable pollution limits. The following is our analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly from the session that concluded April 30 in Tallahassee. JUMP TO: M-CORES Repeal Right to Farm Expansion Seaport Regulations Water Storage North of Lake Okeechobee Everglades Oil Drilling Blue-Green Algae Task Force Recommendations Florida Forever As of July 13, 2021, the following Legislative Report has been updated to reflect recent developments. It was shaping up as just another spring in Tallahassee. Then the money rolled in. With the federal American Rescue Plan funneling $10.2 billion into state [...]

2021-07-13T13:57:36-04:00May 18th, 2021|All Posts, Florida Legislature|

DeSantis had a chance to side with Floridians. He chose sugar.

Next time Gov. Ron DeSantis tries to claim he's not beholden to Florida's powerful sugar industry, don't believe him. DeSantis gave Big Sugar a massive gift April 29 when he signed Senate Bill 88, a measure which effectively indemnifies Big Sugar from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems. This bill, now law, means only those who live within a half a mile of an agricultural operation can bring a legal case against detrimental impacts like the smoke from the burning fields, which can travel upwards of 20 miles. The old and young are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems caused [...]

2021-04-30T15:50:49-04:00April 29th, 2021|Florida Legislature, Sugarcane Burning|

Seaport preemption bills make a comeback as Friends of the Everglades joins calls for a veto

On April 27, Friends of the Everglades joined the Ocean Conservancy and dozens of other environmental organizations in sending a letter to Gov. DeSantis opposing a pair of bills, SB 426 and HB 267, that pose yet another legislative attack on home rule and the environment. The letter, which requests a veto of SB 426 and HB 267 states: "Florida’s ocean and coastal assets are a key economic driver for the state, as well as the foundation of the state’s cultural identity. Floridians live, work, and play on the state’s beaches and the reefs offshore, and visitors leave behind billions in contributions to the state’s GDP. Port authorities and local governments know their local waterways best. These waterways are the [...]

Friends of the Everglades Asks Gov. DeSantis to Veto SB 88

Even as we learn more about the detrimental effects of breathing in the smoke and soot from the burning cane fields, it's clear SB 88 represents an invaluable gift to the sugar industry. Today, Friends of the Everglades sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis requesting a veto of SB 88. The bill that would enact sweeping new protections for Florida farmers, shielding them from "nuisance lawsuits," sits on Gov. Desantis' desk right now awaiting his signature. The bill effectively protects “Big Sugar” from legal action related to its harmful impacts, like the class-action suit filed by residents of the Glades communities who argue that sugarcane burning causes long-term health problems. Though smoke from the burning cane fields can travel for [...]

Friends of the Everglades Mid-Session Legislative Update

No legislative body has greater control over the health of Florida’s environment than the Florida Legislature. As lawmakers pass the midpoint of their 60-day session in Tallahassee, we offer the following analysis of key bills and pressure points impacting the Greater Everglades. JUMP TO: M-CORES Repeal Everglades Oil Drilling Water Storage North of Lake Okeechobee Right to Farm Expansion Blue-Green Algae Task Force Recommendations Seaport Regulations Florida Forever It was a frightening and symbolic moment. Along Florida’s Gulf Coast on April 3, mobile phones rattled with a dire warning: Piney Point was in danger of imminent collapse. So far the radioactive phosphogypsum stack at the former fertilizer plant in Manatee County has not given way. But that’s only because workers [...]

2021-05-12T13:15:05-04:00April 8th, 2021|All Posts, Florida Legislature|

Bad bill alert: Right to Farm legislation poses a threat to Florida

When does the "right to farm" become the "right to harm”? On Tuesday the Florida House of Representatives' Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee voted 14-4 to advance HB 1601, which ostensibly seeks to boost agri-tourism and protect farmers from newcomers who want to curtail farm operations. But we believe the effect of the bill will be to disenfranchise the already disenfranchised, like those who live near sugar fields and find themselves hacking and wheezing when smoke from the burning cane wafts in their direction. The bill curtails their ability to sue, requiring they live within 1/2 mile of the farm in question to file a nuisance action. It also raises the burden of proof, limits damages and requires plaintiffs who [...]

2021-04-30T15:51:30-04:00March 30th, 2021|Florida Legislature, Sugarcane Burning|

‘Clean Waterways Act’ is incremental at best — and we need more from Florida policymakers

Statement from Eve Samples, executive director of Friends of the Everglades, on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of the Clean Waterways Act (Senate Bill 712) on June 30, 2020: “The Clean Waterways Act is incrementalism at best. It does too little to curtail polluters, and too little to protect Floridians from the harmful effects of toxic algae blooms that have devastating effects on human health and the state’s economy. What’s worse: The bill was amended to preempt local governments from passing ‘Rights of Nature’ initiatives that could have empowered citizens to protect the natural ecosystems in their own communities. Senate Bill 712 does some incremental good by tightening up rules and penalties for septic and sewer systems — but it falls [...]

Letter of Support To Prohibit Toxic Discharges

Friends of the Everglades submitted the following letter to Congress to express our support for a provision in the Water Resources Development Act that would prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from discharging Lake Okeechobee water into the St. Lucie Estuary when levels of microcystin exceed 8 micrograms per liter.  

Congress must reject 20-year-old water promises to protect future of Lake Okeechobee, estuaries & Everglades

The following letter was sent by Friends of the Everglades to all Florida congressional offices requesting their rejection of the intentionally manipulative language additions that would ultimately prioritize the water supply needs for large industrial farms south of Lake Okeechobee over the health of residents living along toxic-algae plagued waterways. April 29, 2020 To the members of Florida's congressional delegation: On behalf of Friends of the Everglades, I’m writing to voice our concerns about an effort to manipulate this year’s Water Resources & Development Act (WRDA) in a manner that would be detrimental to the Everglades, the northern estuaries and Florida Bay. In an email sent Tuesday, April 28, Rep. Alcee Hastings’ staff requested other representatives sign onto a letter [...]

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