Friday, February 12, 2016

Update on the Fruit Fly Quarantine in South Miami-Dade -- ALSO AG TOUR FEB. 19TH. By Geniusofdespair

Update: Reps. Raschein and Curbello are trying to move legislature through to assist growers who have incurred losses due to the Oriental Fruit Fly quarantine restrictions. (quarantine will end in a few days if no more flies are found). Some big issues remain such as laurel wilt disease that destroys avocado trees and water issues. Apparently, water has been directed south which has impacted farm fields along with the unusually heavy rains here this winter. Fields were flooded due to rains and row crop farmers lost a bunch of squash and beans and some other crops were damaged.

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE:

The annual Agriculture/Farm tour is the 19th of Feb. It is a great way to see what is going on in the farming area. Call PATTY AT 305 248-3311 X 225 NOW!!

Adam Putnam, Florida Ag Secretary: sacrifice Everglades to keep pressure off GOP ... BACKLASH growing ... by gimleteye



Adam Putnam, in line to be the next GOP candidate for governor of Florida, is substantially responsible for the new water policy law that ensures the gates of hell are open for Big Sugar polluters to destroy property values, public health and the environment downstream. Both Florida coasts are getting slammed by the polluted outfall from historic rains. Now, instead of supporting the will of the people, Gov. Rick Scott and his Big Sugar allies want to send the pollution into the Everglades, where taxpayers have already invested billions. Read about it on Bullsugar.org's website.

STATEMENT BY DAVID GUEST ON GOV. SCOTT’S LETTER TODAY TO THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS ABOUT POLLUTED LAKE OKEECHOBEE DISCHARGES

David Guest, Managing Attorney for the Florida office of Earthjustice:
“The problem is that the state continues to allow Big Agriculture, especially Big Sugar, to pump its polluted wastewater into Lake Okeechobee, which is a public water body. We’re not allowed to pump our septic tank waste into our neighbor’s yard, and these corporate agricultural operations shouldn’t be allowed to.

This debate shouldn’t be about moving the water around. It should be about making agriculture clean the water up. With the recently passed water policy law, the Legislature and the Governor made the rules even more permissive. The law, incredibly, eliminates pollution permits for agricultural operations around Lake Okeechobee. These polluting operations are now on the honor system, which is outrageous.

The nasty, polluted water that’s now killing fish and other marine life on the Southeast and Southwest coasts is a direct result of the state’s incredibly weak policies. Make no mistake: These policies were carefully crafted by big-bucks agricultural lobbyists and enacted by their friends in power.”

Earthjustice is the nation’s premier national nonprofit environmental law organization.

2016 GOP Presidential primary prophecies: how do they measure up? ... by gimleteye

How well did my crystal ball work on the GOP race when I peered into the orb a year ago?

Mea culpa. I predicted Marco Rubio would whip Jeb! to the nomination, helping him through a crowded pack. ... I did better on a few other points.

I asked: "Why aren't journalists scouring the Rubio record for signs of either political accomplishment or capability?" Chris Christie took care of that.

"Marco Rubio responds to the questions about global warming by saying he is "not a scientist"," I wrote.

What Marco did say in New Hampshire to Miami resident Maribel Balbin, is that we will "mitigate" our way around sea level rise. Marco is not much of a reader. A few days ago, the UK Guardian reported: "Sea-level rise could last twice as long as human history." Mitigate-that, Marquito.

"In the jockeying for position among GOP candidates, there is no Herman Cain or Rick Santorum or Donald Trump yet," I wrote. Then I made the prediction, "Marco Rubio will help manage the GOP roller derby train so, at the right moment in the train, Jeb Bush will be pulled through the primary. For that he will be rewarded." Well ... I misjudged Rubio's character.

I am sorry, but not more sorry than Jeb for once believing in Marco Rubio.

In its entirety, here is what I wrote on April 14, 2015:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Against Big Sugar's pollution of Florida: social media could spark a revolution ... by gimleteye

On Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, hundreds of thousands of viewers are sharing photos, videos, and terse observations of the massive destruction being caused by the release of hundreds of billions of filthy water from Lake Okeechobee -- thanks to Big Sugar's control of the Florida legislature and Congress.

Historic January rains in Florida has turned into a flood on social media. It is becoming clear there is a very large audience for information how a few billionaires are holding the entire state hostage to profit schemes based on shifting their pollution onto the backs of taxpayers; in this case, wrecking billions of dollars of coastal real estate and tourism-based businesses to keep sugar fields dry.


These are not a few hundred people. Social media, in the weeks before the March presidential primaries, are engaging it's hundreds of thousands of viewers who will vote.

This video by fishing guide Michael Conner has been viewed on Facebook nearly 300,000 times:



And it's not just the east coast of Florida that is affected. Big Sugar has always relied on the geographic separation of the Gulf from the Atlantic to keep its Florida critics divided.

Through social media, the rampant abuse by polluters is linking outraged citizens the west coast with their counterparts on the east coast.

On Wednesday, Democratic leader Mark Pafford demonstrated the intransigence of the GOP-controlled legislature, determined to block state purchases of land from Big Sugar south of Lake Okeechobee that could eventually solve the pollution crisis. Even Republican elected leaders from the most polluted regions of the state-- like Senator Joe Negron -- ignored and allowed Pafford's bill to die.

The bill would have allocated moneys to buy lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area, south of Lake Okeechobee for storage marshes adequate to hold and cleanse sugar's filthy discharges.

Not even a 2014 constitutional amendment, approved by more than 75 percent of Florida voters, for land acquisition has swayed legislators to fixing the Lake Okeechobee disaster. If the legislature won't expose the rotten heart of Tallahassee, social media will do the job: showing graphic images how Big Sugar billionaires fertilize the Republican majority just like sulfates from its half million acres using drainage canals like sewage pipes.

The flood on social media targeting Big Sugar is skipping past print journalism, OPEDs carefully crafted to avoid antagonizing its advertisers, and is even vaulting beyond environmental groups.

It will take a political revolution to fix what is wrong with Florida. That could happen if those hundreds of thousands on social media gather millions and turn anger against Big Sugar into votes. When people lead, leaders follow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lone Miami-Dade Attendee Reports: Gay Paree's November Conference Addressed Climate Change Head On!! By Guest Blogger Jose Regalado

 Jose Regalado serves on the City of Miami Climate Change Task Force.
Mayor Ana Hidalgo of Paris Addressing Attendees
In late November I left for Paris, paying my own way to attend the Climate Change forum. I was also invited to the local leaders summit hosted by the Mayor of Paris, Ana Hidalgo. In the two weeks I was there I learned a lot.

I left happy that the world governments agreed on a reduction of Carbon Emissions, but also bitterly disappointed in the process, the representation and the action plans.

I was not an elected official and did not receive clearance to all the meetings however I was representing my father, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. I have firsthand experience with climate change disasters and understand the repercussions for a culture, economy and environmental sector.
For starters it appears I was the only person from Miami at the conference.

The Miami/South Florida area was also labeled at the conference as the area “of primary concern”, with the largest amount of exposed assets and fourth largest population susceptible to sea level rise. In the World.

Let that sink in.
As an aside. Carlos Gimenez mentioned in his State of the County address that our solutions have garnered him international praise, which I certainly didn’t hear about in Paris.

The best part of this event was meeting with other local leaders from around the world and hearing about what their local problems and innovative solutions have garnered them. I was beginning to feel that there was an underlying reason for all the friendliness and 20 questions from every official I met. It was confirmed during the closing party when I felt a tap on my shoulder:
 “Are you the guy from Miami? Great to meet you! I am part of a group representing all of the Cities on the Mississippi River, and we are all waiting to hear what Miami’s big plan is!"
After my initial shock on being put on the spot, I shot off what I knew, like our hopes of pumps, new architectural plans etc. The questioner was surprised that we weren’t moving the entire city instead. 

My take away from COP 21 and the Summit for Local Leaders is that local leaders need to “step up the game”. Over the past few months I have heard local Mayors shift the responsibility to the private sector (Levine-Miami Beach) and the Universities (Gimenez- Dade County).

If you were forgiving, you would think they’re relying on the “ol’American ingenuity” principle; technology will outpace the environment. If you were skeptical, you might think that our local leaders know that sounding the alarm hanging zoning codes and creating new infrastructure would be political suicide. Not to mention the possibility of crashing our housing market with sea level rise with giant insurance and mortgage problems on the horizon.

They would rather puddle jump to greater things or get out before the s--t  hits the fan.  On the federal side of things, I attended a round table talk that was set up by Pipeline Brickell and hosted by White House Adviser Robert Simon. My take away was about coal. But we don’t have coal plants here, the closest is in Jupiter.  Yes he talked about solar and the almost insurmountable evidence of sea level rise. But the Obama administration is focusing on halting coal production, not micro managing our energy monopoly and dismal renewal energy production.
Jose Regalado at Paris Global Warming/Climate Change Conference

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But sorting your recycling will not stop the rising tide, just as making one bike lane will not solve our transportation issues.  In the past we have reacted to problems when they are at our doorstep, using technological innovation. Whether this will work for Sea Level Rise is a non-issue for me because it is a non-issue for Miami. We are already plagued with flooding and salt water continues to inch its way into our water supply.  Our porous limestone geology and inclement weather complicates the traditional solutions that the Netherlands, Louisiana and Italy have used. We are getting no help from the State, so it falls on our hands.

Cities are half of the globes climate equation. We need to take over the reins and move forward. The recently created City of Miami Sea Level Rise Board is amassing a wealth of knowledge and everyone is working hard.  I would like to thank Commissioner Francis Suarez for creating it and Commissioner Wilfredo Gort for appointing me.

My personal opinion is that we need to start today, at least with preliminary emergency measures in zoning. We are entering the greatest period of urbanization in the history of humanity and creating small precautionary solutions now will keep those new buildings from exacerbating the problem during a disaster. We also need people to be educated about the issues, it may be dreadful but there is hope. If residents understand the issue they can make this a priority for today and not the next generation. Despite what you may hear in Presidential press conferences, we don’t have fish in our street. However I heard Aventura had them coming up from their storm drains after a particularly hard rain.

Fish jumping out of storm drain. Birds were feeding on them.

Video of question asked by Jose in Paris.

Republican voters can see climate change, too: only GOP candidates for president can't ... by gimleteye

The blogs are far ahead of the mainstream media on noting the gaping holes in the head of GOP candidates for president on climate change. See, Marco Rubio's pathetic comments to Maribel Balbin (posted below), who traveled to New Hampshire to deliver a climate change message. Rubio not only failed his homework but fails basic logic when it comes to the severe threat to national security that climate change represents.

Porter Goss, a former CIA director and former Congressman from Florida's west coast, put it very clearly to meeting of business leaders. Speaking about the gush of polluted water from Big Sugar pouring from the coasts, six years ago Goss called the damage to the environment, "our 9/11".

That is not what Rubio said. He confided to Balbin, the answer is "MITIGATION". Rubio said that flooding conditions in West Dade -- he said so to Balbin -- were worse 20 years ago and that "mitigation" in the form of flood control made his little corner of the world better; ergo, a little mitigation should go a long way to solving climate change since that has been his experience. (This is why Marco Rubio, "I'm no scientist", is unqualified to be president.)

Here is a photo taken yesterday, in coastal Maine, a harbinger of sea level rise. These lobster traps are on a dock, at high tide. There was no wind or storm or moon tide to explain why the tide is cresting over the top of the dock. How are you going to mitigate against THAT, Senator Rubio or Jeb Bush?

As Huffington Post notes, Republican voters in New Hampshire clapped when climate change issues were raised in public forums. It's almost never mentioned in the debates. It is about time that television news reporters and newspaper editors begin to understand: climate change is not some bottom of the list issue that needs to percolate up before it gets their full and undivided attention.

Climate Change Keeps Coming Up At GOP Campaign Stops -- And People Are Clapping
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gop-climate-change_us_56b8fdd8e4b08069c7a85a83
It's almost never mentioned during the debates.
02/08/2016 Amanda Terkel
Senior Political Reporter, The Huffington Post

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- When Dan Kipnis stood up and asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) about his plan to address climate change, he thought he might face some angry audience members who didn't like his question. He was shocked to instead find people clapping for him.

Marco Rubio on climate change: his answer to Maribel Balbin shows he is unqualified to be president ... by gimleteye



Watch on YouTube
Maribel is a Cuban refugee whose family lost everything when they fled Cuba in the 1960s to build a new life in Miami....
Posted by ClimateTruth.org on Monday, February 8, 2016

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

On Eminent Domain, Trump is right, Bush and Rubio are wrong: just follow the political money in Florida to know why ... by gimleteye

In the final GOP debate before the NH primary, Jeb Bush attacked Donald Trump for his support of eminent domain, which allows governments to seize private lands for projects for the public good. A day later, Marco Rubio repeated Bush's complaint.
Interesting, because as attention turns past New Hampshire, Trump could use eminent domain against Bush and Rubio in Florida.

Right now, coastal residents -- in mostly Republican areas of the state -- are up in arms, furious that the value of coastal real estate worth billions is being trashed because Big Sugar has blocked the buyout by the state of lands adequate to the purpose of storing and cleansing its pollution.

It is the state's worst kept secret: Big Sugar counts on elected officials to continue shifting most of the cleanup costs away from its profit margin and to taxpayers and property owners on both Florida coasts.

Historic rainfalls -- as much as five times the average -- in the region have caused the state's liquid heart, Lake Okeechobee, to rise so fast and so high that the state and US Army Corps of Engineers have had to resort to the formula that benefits Big Sugar first and foremost by releasing hundreds of billions of heavily polluted water into Florida's estuaries and rivers as an escape valve.

There is a solution, and it is exactly what Trump supports in principle: eminent domain to provide desperately needed surface water storage and trap this excessive rainfall.
Solving the impasse both north and south of Lake Okeechobee could have been resolved decades ago through eminent domain. US Sugar in 2008 actually entered into a deal to sell its lands, but its competitor -- the billionaire Fanjuls -- hold key pieces of property and have been steadfast in their refusal to sell. In fact, the Fanjuls threw their complete support to Marco Rubio in his single victory to win a US Senate seat in 2010 because his opponent, Charlie Crist, had the temerity of starting the state down the road of buying sugar lands for flood control and cleansing marsh purposes.

Eminent domain is a frequent target of criticism from conservative and anti-government groups. Both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio toed Big Sugar's line: don't use eminent domain under any circumstance to solve "environmental" problems like the Everglades. Of course it is not just the Everglades that need help: there is the Miccosukee Tribe and property owners along the St. Lucie, the Indian River, the Caloosahatchee and any business owner whose livelihood depends on tourism.

Archival photo of water release from the Lake.
Eminent domain is controversial in Florida, thanks to the influence of major landowners like Big Sugar, dairy farmers, and land speculators. Florida’s Constitution recognizes a landowner should not be put in a worse position after a condemnation than before. Full compensation, as the Constitution requires, includes attorneys fees.

So, no crocodile tears are due if elected officials decided to use eminent domain in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Bush said in the debate, "What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong."

Here is what is downright wrong: that Jeb Bush as governor of Florida was too afraid of Big Sugar to do anything to alleviate the conditions that have rematerialized this winter in Lake Okeechobee watersheds and the disastrous disposal of hundreds of billions of gallons of polluted farm runoff into the St. Lucie River, Indian River and Caloosahatchee. Marco Rubio, when asked, points to his experience in the Florida legislature defending property rights. Neither will admit that their refusal to entertain the necessity of fixing the pollution crisis in Florida through eminent domain has cost taxpayers and the environment billions of dollars already.

Trump said that eminent domain was “a good thing” and was necessary to building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. “Certainly, it’s a necessity for our country." He was right. He added that the GOP supporters of Keystone Pipeline understand perfectly well that the pipeline they support could never be built without eminent domain.

As the GOP campaign focus turns to Florida, Trump should emphasize to voters the value of eminent domain and especially how both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio will not bite the sugary hand that feeds their ambition.

Rubio a real zero on the Environment...Really he was rated a big fat "0". By Geniusofdespair

The National Environmental Scorecard, a score given by the League of Conservation Voters, gave Marco Rubio, for the year 2014, zero on their environmental scorecard. Although Ted Cruz also got a zero his lifetime score was 2 points higher. Hillary Clinton got a score of 88%, for two years she was rated and an 89% for the third, when she was in the Senate.  Bernie Sanders  got 80% in 2014 and his lifetime score is 95%.



Hillary Clinton's Score when she was in the Senate got an 88% for 2 years she was rated and an 89% for a third year:

2001 score
2002 score
2003 score

Bernie Sanders:


here is more Rubio's voting record....

Monday, February 08, 2016

Tom MacVicar: the face of water mismanagement in South Florida ... by gimleteye

On his corporate website, Thomas K. MacVicar, P.E., offers his qualifications: "The Design and Operation of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, State and Federal Agency Coordination."

What MacVicar omits: his current role as chief strategist and agent for Big Sugar.

Here is a video of MacVicar, made more than 25 years ago, while employed by the South Florida Water Management District. He speaks of hopeful progress for Lake Okeechobee. In the early 1990's, after being passed over for the top job at the District, MacVicar rotated out of government into private industry where he has worked ever since; mostly representing Big Sugar and other industries whose profits intersect with environmental rules and regulations. MacVicar's career spans the hope at first and then loss, as promises of restoration began to take the shape of half-measures with a single purpose: to keep Big Sugar and its prerogatives at the top of the priority list, never mind the consequence to taxpayers or -- now -- homeowners and businesses on both Florida coasts.

The tough comments, below the video, are by Larry E. Fink, whose former position as lead scientist for the South Florida Water Management District affords particular insight.

In the video, the last commenter is haunting: "It's going to get better, I'm sure." Water mismanagement has gotten worse in Florida in the past twenty five years -- horrible as we can see today in the suffering of the St. Lucie, the Indian River, and the Caloosahatchee and all communities downstream.

If there is any hope at all, it is in electing politicians in Florida unafraid to use eminent domain exactly as it is intended to provide for public needs for water in Florida, as there are no willing sellers among the Big Sugar billionaires like those employing Tom MacVicar. Buy out Big Sugar lands adequate to the purpose of storing and cleansing its pollution.



Comments:
Larry E. Fink, M.S
Waterwise Consulting, LLC

Lake Okeechobee water quality has been sacrificed in stages:

(1) Falsely conclude that something other than successive Lake Okeechobee emergency releases were impairing the uses of the East and West Coast estuaries, so that neither had to be considered the limiting waterbody in the Lake Okeechobee watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL);

(2) Adopt a limiting nutrient target equivalent to an algae bloom density equal to or greater than 30 ug/L in chlorophyll a equivalents once every five years or 40 ppb TP, when 30 ppb TP would have virtually eliminated large-scale algae blooms altogether;

(3) Ignore the declining net TP settling rate from the increasing TP flux recycling from the muck sediment that covers roughly 50% of the lake bottom, equivalent to a TP concentration closer to 70 ppb than 40 ppb;

(4) Ignore the slow recovery of submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) from shading by the unnatural algae blooms and hurricane-induced muck resuspension events and the positive feedback between lost SAV cover and the magnitudes, durations and frequencies of unnatural resuspension events;

(5) Ignore (3) and (4) in the oversimplified water quality model developed by Bill Walker for FDEP used to calculate the official TP Total Maximum Daily Load approved by EPA Region 4, when the EPA-approved WASP model had already been adapted to Lake Okeechobee by LimnoTech using physical, chemical, and biological process rate data collected by UF's Ramesh Reddy and co-workers, both under contract to SFWMD;

(6) Underestimate the TP mass loading reduction in watershed runoff required to restore and sustain unimpaired uses of Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries to which it discharges it's pollution because of (1)-(5);

(7) By ignoring (3), falsely conclude that hydraulic dredging was unneeded, by ignoring the Lake Trafford experience, falsely conclude that it is technologically infeasible, and falsely conclude that it is ecomically unreasonable by ignoring the value of the lake and estuarine uses impaired by degraded water quality.

The elimination of the cattle ranching source in the Lake Okeechobee watershed was necessary but not sufficient to restore and sustain any impaired use in the limiting water bodies, let alone all impaired uses.

Emergency back-pumping from the EAA exacerbates this deficiency.

A combination of on-parcel water retention, BMPs, and STAs might be sufficient, but nobody is in any hurry, because it is disruptive of the status quo, expensive, and everybody knows that without hydraulic dredging, Lake Okeechobee will become more and more like Lake Apopka, so why bother.

To honor the memory of dedicated activists like Wayne Nelson, we need to cut through the political science, a.k.a bullshit, and push for a combination of cost-effective measures to reduce the watershed load to the 30 ppb TP target by 2020, not whenever, combined with continuous hydraulic dredging powered by the wind, with dewatering on fallow EAA farmland to recover it's water, nutrient, and soil building values.

I am available to consult on any of the issues raised in the preceding but not on the psychology of incrementalism and defeatism as distorted realism that has captured environmental activism at every jurisdictional scale.

Larry E. Fink, M.S
Waterwise Consulting, LLC

Note:

The Lake Okeechobee TMDL also ignores its growing mercury impairment problem, but that's another story.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Rubio's Mental Program was hacked at last night's debate. By Geniusofdespair



A rattled Rubio had a meltdown. This video is toxic. Marco Rubio's programmed sound bite on Barack Obama was repeated 4 times during the debate almost word for word…and in 3 cases it was not even apropos to the question he was asked. Like the water bottle fiasco at his response to the State of the Union Speech (Rubio's tell, he takes a drink to give himself time to think or reboot -- Seriously, look at his video's -- he is always drinking something). Marco Rubio may have finally done himself in with this debate.


It took a prosecutor to throw him into a spiral. Surely he was too young and inexperienced at the start for this presidential run. Are you listening to your boy Norman Braman? Watch the Damn Video, in it you will hear Rubio repeat the same talking point 3 times!!



DON'T MISS DAVE BARRY'S INSIGHTFUL COVERAGE OF THE PRIMARIES (I REALLY COULDN'T STOP LAUGHING):

Today:
Somehow the snow didn’t seem to bother the New Hampshire people; they just drove calmly through it without hitting each other or sliding off the road. I was very impressed. In Miami, the drivers can’t handle rain. Their reaction is: “What’s this? Water falling from the SKY?? I had better take evasive action by swerving violently OH NO (BANG).”
Yesterday:
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz won in Iowa. Donald Trump, who came in second, made an uncharacteristically low-key and gracious concession speech, but then the tranquilizer dart wore off and Trump fired off a series of semi-grammatical attack tweets claiming that Cruz is a liar and a fraud and by the way a Canadian who won Iowa by cheating. So he’s back in form.
and:
The big winner in all this is Marco Rubio, who is looking more and more like the Republican Establishment Alternative. This makes Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich CRAZY because they all have executive experience as governors, whereas Rubio’s main achievement to date is paying off his student loans.