Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rundown of Environmental Issues We Are Facing. By Geniusofdespair

Here is a quick rundown of What we are facing on the environmental front:

1. Nuclear and Coal Technologies Need to be Removed from the Renewable Portfolio:
These two technologies will take away funding for development of real renewable energy sources like solar and wind. This week there were important State Senate Committee Hearings on SB 1154 and it will be important to be vocal on this issue.

2. Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve:
At least $10 million for water managers to buy endangered Biscayne Bay wetland is gone, and more than $140,000 has been slashed from the Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas program. As Laura Reynolds (Tropical Audubon) sees it, Biscayne National Park's fragile ecosystem is suffering a slow "death by a thousand cuts." (Hit read more).

Without management, the Bay will degrade. For example boat propeller scarring in shallow sea grass areas of the bay is a problem in the preserve. Boaters disregard markers and just plough through the flats. Eventually, these scars erode and become trenches. For history buffs, who could forget the FP&L debacle of the 1960’s, when hot water was dumped into Biscayne Bay by the Company from their nuclear reactors. Large areas of sea grass and masses of marine organisms – both plants and animals – were killed.

Action: Press county and state officials to protect the bay and South Miami-Dade's fresh water supply.

3. Growth Management -- Bill SB 360 (there is no set number for the House bill yet):
It would exempt entire urban service areas from transportation concurrency if they have densities of at least 1,000 people per square mile, but that includes sparsely populated parts of those areas, notably in Miami-Dade County. The bill also in the densely populated areas eliminates additional state permitting requirements for large projects, known as developments of regional impact (DRI), and streamlines other permitting.

"You will be eliminating a lot of the controls on sprawl," said Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach. "So rather than actually promoting in-fill and promoting smart growth, which I think is the goal of the bill, you'll actually be doing exactly the opposite in an area like Dade County." The Senate passed the bill 32-8 with Gelber among those opposed. The bill is at the House, where a similar measure includes a provision to abolish the Department of Community Affairs and transfer its duties, including growth management regulation, to the Department of State.

History again: In the early 1980’s a number of houses were built without permits, West of Krome, in wetlands (in the vicinity of Chekika State Park which is now included in Everglades National Park). In spite of the illegal building and expanding sprawl, the inhabitants were allowed to stay, and Miami Dade County citizens paid for their flooding problems. Finally the Army Corps had to buy many of the homes with millions of our tax dollars. This flood prone neighborhood became known as the 8-½ Square Mile area. This constant expansion of development West has eliminated habitat for birds, deer, panther and many other species including Brad Pitt (just checking to see if you have zoned out).

Action: Call the following Representatives, Esteban Bovo, Juan Carlos-Planas, Richard Steinberg, Oscar Braynon, David Rivera, Ron Saunders, Anitere Flores and tell them that you do not want reduced State oversight of local Comp Plans and Developments of Regional Impact nor do you want the Dept. of Community Affairs to stop or reduce it’s growth management oversight.

4. Administrative Hearing on Lowe’s Home Improvement Store and Brown Application:
We are still awaiting ruling from the Hearing Judge on the two application to move the Urban Development Boundary. Attorneys Richard Grosso and Robert Hartsell of the Everglades Law Center and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi all were interveners on the side of the Dept. of Community Affairs against Miami Dade County. Yes, you heard it, your County tax dollars are being used fighting the State of Florida --- helping these two developers. Thank you unreformable majority and Rebeca Sosa.

5. Parkland DRI (Lennar’s mega development, 960 acres, on the other side of UDB near Tamiani Airport):
It is moving ahead. Why are they moving ahead? Because they say they want to be well positioned when the economy turns around. No action at this time, but stay alert on this one. The Bill 360 mentioned above, would abolish State of Florida oversight on Parkland.

6. Rock Mining Near Biscayne National Park:
Turkey Point Nuclear Power plant needs to raise the grade to expand and build two more reactors. They need enormous amounts of fill and it is feared that they will excavate near the park, causing saltwater intrusion and endangering our water supply. Also Cemex had a permit application last year to mine 26 million cubic yards on 200 acres very close to the park, at Florida City Quarry. Rock mining near Biscayne National Park will seriously affect water quality in the Park. This is one obvious problem. There is no doubt that marine life in the park will be detrimentally impacted, counter to the Park’s Management Plan.

General action: write to the Governor about all these issues. Express your concern for the future of the environment in Florida.

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