FPL Power Plant in Florida Panther Refuge Stymied by Seminole Lawsuit

Categories: Environment

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A state court judge last week blocked Florida Power & Light's plans to build an immense new gas-fired power plant in Hendry County, on environmentally sensitive, historically significant land that adjoins the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.

See also: Seminoles to Protest FPL Power Plant on Earth Day

In a 32-page order that turned on the question of the legal definition of the word "utilities," Charlotte Circuit Judge Donald H. Mason held that Hendry County officials had illegally granted approval for the plant in a location forbidden under the county's land use regulations.

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Rick Scott and Florida Cabinet Approve Conservation Deals

Categories: Environment

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons
Lower Key Marsh Rabbit
Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet announced the approval of the acquisition of more than 1,275 acres to protect environmentally sensitive areas in Monroe and Washington counties.

The approval is the final step before land can be purchased for these two Florida Forever projects.

"This more than $4 million investment will protect our springs and environment to ensure future generations can continue to enjoy Florida's natural treasures," Scott said via a news release.

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Environmentalists Lose Lawsuit Over Buggies, Panthers, and Big Cypress Plan

Categories: Environment

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Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters
For one subset of the Florida cracker, hunting, fishing, and frogging is a way of life. And intrinsic to their subculture, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, is the use of swamp buggies. So when the National Park Service banned their use in parts of the Big Cypress Preserve, it set off a decades-long battle between sportsmen who believe that public land is for recreation and environmentalists who think it's for preservation.

In 1988, the Park Service acquired an additional 147,000 acres around the original preserve. Some of it contained residential areas, and those people had built trails around their homes for off-road vehicle use. But when the government took over, it barred use of the trails.

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Lawsuit Against DEP over Fracking in Everglades Dropped by Collier County

Categories: Environment

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Environmentalists took one on the chin Tuesday when Collier County officials voted to drop a lawsuit they'd filed against the Department of Environmental Protection over the state's policing of fracking by Texas oil prospectors in the Great Cypress Swamp watershed.

See also:
- Frack No More: Activists Drive Texas Oil Company From the Everglades

Collier's Board of County Commissioners in April voted to file the suit, in response to public fury over the February disclosure -- after months of public hearings on the controversial drilling -- that Houston-based Dan A. Hughes Company was found to have violated state law late last year. The company had used a technique known as acid fracking on a well site adjoining the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a major nesting site for wood storks, a species just recently taken off the endangered species list.


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Florida Utility Prematurely Yanked a Solar Rebate Program, Trade Group Claims

Categories: Environment

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David.Monniaux via wikimedia commons
It's getting ugly between Florida's solar industry and the state's public utilities. All summer, both camps have been sniping at each other after Florida's power companies blocked solar industry advocates from sitting in on a policy skull session at the Florida Public Service Commission.

Now, the war of words is turning to actions. Solar advocates now claim this month Florida Power & Light yanked funding from a residential solar rebate program prematurely, with no warning or explanation.

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Even Californians Are Attacking Rick Scott's Environmental Record

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Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager billionaire from California, has decided to pour millions into a campaign to remind Floridians that Rick Scott has been terrible to the environment.

Steyer's super PAC, NextGen Climate, is going strong to the hoop with attack ads targeting Scott and his environmental record, as well as his money-tied relationships with oil interests and energy companies like Duke Energy -- the company that charged millions of Floridians for a nuclear power plant project that never actually happened.

All this while Scott finally decided to meet with Florida scientists to discuss his climate-change stance.

See also: Rick Scott Says "I'm Not a Scientist" as He Continues to Ignore Climate Change Issue

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PEER Report: Rick Scott Has Neutered Florida's Environmental Enforcement

Categories: Environment

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Win Henderson via Wikimedia Commons
"Nothing going on here, just checking the water's pH. Not cleaning up toxic chemicals. Nope."
As part of its effort to watchdog Rick Scott's administration, the Florida arm of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) combs through the annual data about the caseload of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The thinking goes that a shrinking number of corrective actions by the state's environmental coppers is proof-positive that the governor is letting polluters and other Earth baddies get off (Rick) Scott-free. The group just released a report examining 2013, and the depressing hypothesis seems to be holding.


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State Rep. Joe Gibbons, Critic of Current Florida Solar Policy, Has a Conflict of Interest on the Issue, Solar Advocates Say

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Corrugate via Wikimedia Commons
As we've told you earlier, there's a big, OK Corral-style showdown going on in Florida over the future of solar energy. On one side of the debate, you have a small yet scrappy band of private businesses who rig homes with solar; on the other, Florida's powerful utilities, who over the course of the summer have blocked the rooftop industry from sitting in on upcoming hearings of Florida's Public Service Commission that will likely shape new policy.

Last month, local State Rep. Joe Gibbons also stepped into the ring, criticizing the current solar policy in a Sun Sentinel op-ed. But the solar industry is now crying foul, claiming Gibbons has a conflict of interest on the issue.

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Is Marco Rubio the Worst Climate Denier in Congress?

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Science?
Marco Rubio hasn't been a friend to the environment.

We know this.

You know this.

But is he the worst climate denier in Congress?

That might be up for debate, but we're going out on a limb and say, pretty much yes.

Mainly because he's the senator from Florida, and all indications are that Florida is sinking into the ocean.

And also, because he's very much likely going to be the GOP favorite for the White House in 2016.

See also: Marco Rubio Is Ignoring Threats to South Florida's Environment

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The Alliance for Solar Choice Vows to Fight Florida Power Utilities

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Roto Frank AG via Wikimedia Commons
Florida's solar industry might be up against the ropes, but it's vowing to fight on. As we reported a few weeks back, the small but feisty solar industry -- with an assist from the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), a national group pushing sun energy -- is trying to outlive the kibosh coming from Florida's all-powerful utilities. And although it's lost an important bid to enter current state discussions on the industry's future, there's a growing grassroots push for more solar options.


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