Miami-Dade County Sea Level Rise Workshops

Miami-Dade County’s Office of Resilience is seeking your input in a series of workshops addressing sea level rise in Miami. The next two workshops are scheduled for April 10 in North Miami Beach & April 13 in Palmetto Bay.

Parts of Miami-Dade County are already routinely impacted by flooding, and local sea levels are projected to be approximately two feet higher than they are now by 2060. Miami is one of a handful of locations in the world expected to be hardest hit with sea level rise, but this also means that our region will be testing ground for climate change solutions. With that in mind, Miami-Dade County would like your input “on how you would like to see your community adapt to accommodate more water.” Community members are asked for their opinions on the social, environmental and economic impacts of sea level rise, and to help devise strategies to address those anticipated impacts.

Registration & Locations

No expertise is required, and there will be technical experts on hand to answer questions. Children are welcome. There will be games and activities for all ages. Refreshments will be provided.

If you are unable to attend one of the workshops, you can still provide ideas on how to address sea level rise. Take the online survey and your suggestions will be considered in the County’s strategy. Survey is available in English, Creole and Spanish.

Greening Your Home – a USGBC GREENWorking Event

Join the U.S. Green Building Council on Wednesday, April 10th, in Coral Gables &/or Thursday, April 11th, in Boca Raton for a unique social experience. Come learn about the latest products and technologies to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle; and network with like-minded industry professionals with a passion for sustainability. Registration is required.

DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • Wednesday, April 10, 2018 7pm — Miele Experience Center, 4218 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33146
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2018 7pm — Miele Experience Center, 7680 Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33487

SPONSORS

Scientists Capture a Record 17-foot Python in Florida

A New Record and The Research ContinuesThis female was over 17 feet long, weighed 140 pounds, and contained 73…

Posted by Big Cypress National Preserve on Friday, April 5, 2019

Researchers at Big Cypress National Preserve caught the largest python ever found in the Everglades area just west of Miami. According to the Facebook post that accompanied the eye-popping photo, the female python was more than 17 feet long, weighed 140 pounds, and contained 73 developing eggs.

Scientists explained they were using a new research program using radio transmitters to track male pythons back to their nests to locate breeding females. It was this tracking program that lead the team to this giant breeding female.

The team not only removes the invasive snakes, but collects data for research, develop new removal tools, and learn how the pythons are using the Preserve.

Big Cypress National Preserve Facebook post

In 2013, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held the Great Python Challenge.

It was conceived as a way to raise awareness about this invasive species’ threat to our native wildlife and our fragile Everglades ecosytem. The snakes, which grow to around 15 feet and can weigh more than 200 pounds, have no natural predators in Florida. The pythons are known to eat our protected Key Deer, alligators, endangered wood storks – whatever they can catch. And they are voracious eaters according to The Nature Conservancy, eating nearly 200 pounds of food in five years.

MelanieinMiami Downtowner blog

Beginning in 2017, the South Florida Water Management District created the Python Elimination Program which “incentivizes a limited number of public-spirited individuals to humanely euthanize these destructive snakes, which have become an apex predator in the Everglades.”

While researchers have been hard pressed to provide specific population numbers in the Everglades, a rapid number of increased sightings from 2005 to 2010 is concerning. The species was once relegated to only Everglades National Park and Miami-Dade County, but recent tracking shows pythons are moving westward into locations such as Big Cypress National Preserve and northward into Broward and Palm Beach counties.


The snake is the largest python ever removed from Big Cypress National Preserve, a 729,000-acre expanse of swampland west of Miami in South Florida, according to a statement Friday on the preserve’s Facebook page.

South Florida Water Management District

Zara Brickell City Centre Certified LEED Gold

Zara International Fashion‘s retail store at 701 South Miami Avenue in Brickell City Centre was awarded LEED Gold certification on April 1, 2019.

Front of Zara store showing glass doors with a woman walking through & the shop windows with brightly lit displays
Zara at Brickell City Centre, 201 South Miami Avenue (photo courtesy: Phillip Pessar CC by 2.0 Flicker)

Zara, part of the Inditex family of fashion brands, opened their 30,851 square foot, two-story retail location at Brickell City Centre in December 2017. Zara offers clothing, shoes and accessories for men, women and children.

Zara’s story begins with the opening of our first store in the Spanish coastal city of A Coruña in 1975, an early milestone in our company’s long history. Over the years, Zara has remained faithful to its core values, expressed simply in the same four key words that define all our stores: beauty, clarity, functionality and sustainability.

Zara – Inditex

Zara achieved Gold-level certification in the “LEED for Interior Design and Construction: Retail v3 – LEED 2009” category offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED for Interior Design and Construction provides “the opportunity to develop indoor spaces that are better for the planet and for people” for retail, hospitality & other commercial properties when the company does not own/control the building itself.

In addition to seeking LEED ID+C certification in their retail outlets, Zara has built it’s brand around sustainability in fashion.

Zara’s “Join Life” collection and the eco-stores are two examples that underline the brand’s unwavering focus on sustainability and improved customer experience. These developments have been further enriched by a range of new and innovative projects, such as the installation of clothing recycling containers in-store and a scheme providing for free at-home collection of used garments to complement the delivery of online orders.

Zara – Inditex

Congratulations to Zara for their commitment to responsible fashion and for obtaining their LEED Gold certification at Brickell City Centre!

Governor Ron DeSantis Appoints Dr. Thomas K. Frazer as Chief Science Officer

photo of Tom Frazer in the field with blue skies and palm trees in the background
Thomas K. Frazer (photo credit: Florida Climate Institute)

Yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of University of Florida’s Dr. Thomas K. Frazer as Florida’s first “Chief Science Officer.”

Creation of the position is part of Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment) signed by Governor DeSantis in January.

“As one of Florida’s leading environmental researchers, Dr. Frazer understands the unique water issues facing our state and the actions we must take to solve them. Since day one, my administration has been laser focused on addressing our pressing environmental challenges and commitment to science-based solutions. With science at the center, Florida can lead the world in environmental innovation and water quality improvement.”

Governor Ron DeSantis
Dr. Tom Frazer collects seagrass along Florida’s Gulf coast in an effort to better understand the effects of excess nutrients and other contaminants on their health. ( 2010 Annual Research Report Photo. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones)

The choice of Dr. Frazer has met with praise from Florida’s leading environmentalists.

Yesterday’s announcement reflects Dr. Frazer’s impressive credentials and an equally impressive priority for science. Dr. Frazer is one of the nation’s premiere researchers, one who is well acquainted with the unique water challenges facing Florida. Governor DeSantis’ appointment of a Chief Science Officer is itself a historic occasion, one that signals that sound science will be at the core of Florida policy affecting the environment.

Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation

With our solid foundation in science as our guiding conservation principle, we thank Governor DeSantis for his bold hiring of Dr. Frazer to the position of Chief Science Officer for the state of Florida. In our long partnership with Secretary Valenstein and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and now more broadly with Dr. Frazer, we look forward to additional opportunities to serve the citizens of and visitors to Florida.

Temperince Morgan, Executive Director of the Florida Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
Thomas K Frazer (photo credit: University of Florida)

Thomas K. Frazer is a Professor and the Director of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fisheries Biology, a Master’s Degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. According to his resume, Dr. Frazer’s research “addresses contemporary and emerging environmental issues, and it is, by nature, interdisciplinary” and “has authored and/or co-authored more than 175 peer-reviewed publications, technical reports, and book chapters.”

Thank You for Supporting the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act

Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), along with six co-sponsors, introduced the Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since then, 21 additional Representatives have added their names in support. Thank you to the following Representatives for signing on as co-sponsors so far:

  • Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49] 03/27/2019
  • Rep. Cisneros, Gilbert Ray, Jr. [D-CA-39] 03/26/2019
  • Rep. Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13] 03/26/2019
  • Rep. McGovern, James P. [D-MA-2] 03/25/2019
  • Rep. Rouda, Harley [D-CA-48] 03/25/2019
  • Rep. Sires, Albio [D-NJ-8] 03/21/2019
  • Rep. Malinowski, Tom [D-NJ-7] 03/21/2019
  • Rep. Craig, Angie [D-MN-2] 03/18/2019
  • Rep. Schiff, Adam B. [D-CA-28] 03/08/2019
  • Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11] 03/07/2019
  • Rep. Pingree, Chellie [D-ME-1] 03/06/2019
  • Rep. Connolly, Gerald E. [D-VA-11] 03/04/2019
  • Rep. Schakowsky, Janice D. [D-IL-9] 02/22/2019
  • Rep. Speier, Jackie [D-CA-14] 02/12/2019
  • Rep. Clarke, Yvette D. [D-NY-9] 02/11/2019
  • Rep. Wild, Susan [D-PA-7] 02/08/2019
  • Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20] 02/07/2019
  • Rep. Carbajal, Salud O. [D-CA-24] 01/30/2019
  • Rep. Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [D-GA-4] 01/29/2019
  • Rep. Phillips, Dean [D-MN-3] 01/28/2019
  • Rep. Rooney, Francis [R-FL-19] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Eshoo, Anna G. [D-CA-18] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Peters, Scott H. [D-CA-52] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Crist, Charlie [D-FL-13] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)
  • Rep. Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL-3] 01/24/2019 (original co-sponsor)

For more information about H.R.763 – Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019:

Local Plastic Straw Bans to be Banned if Florida State Republicans Have Their Way

“I realized that I was kind of putting my own thoughts into this. … It was government overreach. So what I did was file an amendment that would put a moratorium but give us a study.”

Florida Senator Travis Hutson

The headlines read: “Florida lawmaker wanted to ban plastic straws. He ended up with a ban on banning them” when, last week, multiple news sources printed a report by Samantha J. Gross regarding Florida Senate Bill 588:

The Senate Commerce and Tourism committee approved a bill Monday that, instead of taking aim at plastic straw use, sets up a study to look at the effects of plastic utensils. It also puts a five-year moratorium on locally enacted bans on plastic straws.

The amended bill, introduced by committee member Sen. Travis Hutson, now sets up a study to be carried out by the Department of Environmental Protection. Local governments would not be able to ban plastic straws until 2024.

The Miami Herald

The article seems to say Republican Florida Senator Travis Hutson really wanted to ban single-use plastic straws in Florida, but my reading of the bill and other documents leads me to the opposite conclusion. The very title of CS/SB 588 tells us Hutson’s purpose:

“Preemption of Local Regulations”

Prohibiting local government entities from adopting or enforcing local ordinances or regulations relating to single-use plastic straws before a specified date; requiring the Department of Environmental Protection, or an entity designated by the department, to conduct a study evaluating the environmental impact of single-use plastic straws; providing penalties for violations of the moratorium by a local government entity

summary of Senate Bill 588

There are three other bills in front of committees in Florida’s capital, but Hutson is not a co-sponsor on any of them; and a review of Bill Track 50 doesn’t reveal any other legislation he has sponsored or supported that would limit or ban the use of plastic straws.

  • Senate Bill 502: Prohibition of Plastic Carryout Bags and Straws – sponsored by Senator Kevin J. Rader (D) – Prohibiting a store or food service business from providing a carryout bag made of plastic film to a customer; prohibiting a food service business from selling or providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer.
  • House Bill 603: Single-Use Plastic Straws – sponsored by Representatives Anthony Sabatini (R) ; Randy Fine (R) ; Walter Bryan Hill (R) ; Stan McClure (R) ; Daniel Perez (R) ; Spencer Roach (R) – Authorizes food service establishments to distribute single-use plastic straw to customers upon request & to make single-use plastic straws available through self-serve straw dispensers; preempts regulation of single-use plastic straws to state
  • House Bill 1299: Governmental Powers – sponsored by Spencer Roach (R) – …provides that food service establishment may distribute single-use plastic straw to customer only if requested to do so by customer; preempts to state: regulation of single-use plastic straws…

Only Senate Bill 502 seeks to prohibit single-use plastic straws at a state legislative level. The other three bills, including Hutson’s, are actually attempts to reverse local ordinances that ban or limit single-use plastic straws, and to prevent any future local municipalities from passing future local laws to protect their local environments.

This is a crime

Yea they bite hard !!!

Posted by Hunter Hardesty on Thursday, March 7, 2019

Literally. Harassing pelicans & other wildlife is illegal in Florida. It is unfortunate that Hunter Hardesty, of Davidson, Maryland, it such a poor example of a human being that he would first lure, then JUMP ON a wild pelican for a Facebook photo op. But here he is. So let’s take a quick look at what laws he may have broken.

Don’t Feed the Birds

Intentional feeding or the placement of food that attracts pelicans and modifies the natural behavior of the pelican so as to be detrimental to the survival or health of a local population is prohibited.

Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001

Even beyond the law, feeding wild water birds like this Brown Pelican is bad for them – and not just from jerks like Hunter Hardesty jumping on top of them. The University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, has an excellent explanatory publication:

Brown Pelican (photo courtesy: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren; Wiki Commons)

Cruelty to Animals

A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

Florida Statute 828.12

The video clearly shows Hunter Hardesty tormenting this pelican; treating it in a cruel and inhumane manner.

Endangered Animals

The brown pelican was delisted in the United States in 1985 and the current brown pelican now exceeds historical numbers. However, this species is still considered endangered throughout the rest of its range.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

So Hunter Hardesty may not have broken any U.S. laws protecting endangered species, he certainly doesn’t regain any ethical ground with his stunt. The National Audubon Society includes the brown pelican on it’s “Climate Endangered” list, as does the Endangered Species Coalition. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notes:

Brown pelicans were almost entirely lost from North America between 1950 and 1970…

Modern threats to brown pelicans include oil spills and pollution, human disturbance of nesting colonies, and entanglement in fishing gear or debris.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Social media shaming can be misused, but in this case I do hope Hunter Hardesty will face charges and public censure for his actions. This isn’t a matter of “did he or didn’t he”. He chose to record & share his harassment & endangerment of a hapless brown pelican on Facebook, then followed it up with this gem:


For more information about protecting Florida’s wildlife and environment, I recommend another publication from University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation:

91% of U.S. Coal Plants Have Unsafe Levels of Coal Ash Contaminants in Groundwater

Coal contains a long list of toxic chemicals, including arsenic, radium, and other carcinogens, several metals that can impair children’s developing brains, and multiple chemicals that are toxic to aquatic life. When coal is burned to produce electricity, these toxic chemicals become concentrated in the waste product – coal ash.

Report: “Coal’s Poisonous Legacy: Groundwater Contaminated by Coal Ash Across the U.S.”

This reminder of the health hazards caused by coal ash, a by-product of coal-fired power plants, precedes the alarming report that the groundwater beneath nearly every coal plant in the United States is contaminated. Specifically:

  • 91 percent of coal plants have unsafe levels of one or more coal ash constituents in groundwater, even after we set aside contamination that may naturally occurring or coming from other sources.
  • The groundwater at a majority of coal plants (52 percent) has unsafe levels of arsenic, which is known to cause multiple types of cancer. Arsenic is also a neurotoxin, and, much like lead, can impair the brains of developing children.
  • The majority of coal plants (60 percent) also have unsafe levels of lithium, a chemical associated with multiple health risks, including neurological damage.
  • The contamination at a given site typically involves multiple chemicals. The majority of coal plants have unsafe levels of at least four toxic constituents of coal ash.
View of the 2008 TVA Kingston Fossil Plant fly ash spill, appx. 1 mile from retention pond at Swan Pond Road. The pile of ash in the photo is 20-25 feet high, and stretches for two miles or so along this inlet. Photo credit: Brian Stansberry; Wikimedia Commons

The report compiles from data collected and made public under the “Coal Ash Rule”, a 2015 federal regulation establishing monitoring requirements for coal ash dumps.

“Coal’s Poisonous Legacy: Groundwater Contaminated by Coal Ash Across the U.S.”, released Monday, was researched and written by representatives from the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, with assistance from the Prairie Rivers Network, Sierra Club, Appalachian Voices, and NRDC. To download the full report: