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Looking forward to a new and proactive 2011!!!
Congress will soon consider a $200 billion bailout aimed at protecting waterfront real estate owners in Florida. Introduced by Rep. Ron Klein, Florida Democrat, the Homeowners’ Defense Act, known as the “beach-house bailout,” is nothing more than a targeted TARP-style taxpayer-funded bailout Mr. Klein is using to help his home state.
Florida has about 5 percent of the nation’s population but more than 50 percent of its total exposure to hurricanes and “at risk” waterfront properties. When private insurance companies tried to raise premiums on those at-risk homes, the state Legislature intervened and established price controls for the private insurers. However, price controls never work. Once its policy to protect its wealthiest taxpayers failed, the Florida legislature established a “public option” for property insurance – a government agency, the Florida Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (FCPIC) – to assess property.
The problem is that the FCPIC uses actuarially false data, resulting in an astoundingly low rate to undercut its private-sector competitors. The outcome is that Mr. Klein wants to force American taxpayers to pay for a targeted beach-house bailout for his state.
Taxpayers are not the only ones opposing this most recent bailout. Environmental organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation and the League of Conservation Voters oppose this bill as it sends mixed market signals to developers.
Mr. Klein’s beach-house bailout will not only continue to promulgate irresponsible and unsustainable policy, but will cost American taxpayers billions of dollars to bail out wealthy coastal property owners in the congressman’s home state.
The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water is a short, animated film made by a collaboration of creative and dedicated volunteers at the Surfrider Foundation. Several local Surfrider Foundation chapters combined their talents and funds to create the film — and then actor Zuleikha Robinson of Lost, generously agreed to narrate it.
The premise of the film is that the water cycle we all learned about in the 4th grade has been dramatically altered over time, leaving us with a broken system that wastes water and energy, pollutes our natural waterways, harms critical marine life, and poorly deals with flooding and other water management problems.
The film serves to take a holistic look at water management, highlight controversial problems, and suggest solutions that integrate multiple economic and environmental benefits. The intended audience includes entire communities: from homeowners and the general public, to public agencies and elected government officials.
By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Coral reefs are dying, and scientists and governments around the world are contemplating what will happen if they disappear altogether.
The idea positively scares them.
Coral reefs are part of the foundation of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide — by some estimates, 1 billion across Asia alone — depend on them for their food and their livelihoods.
If the reefs vanished, experts say, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue.
“Whole nations will be threatened in terms of their existence,” said Carl Gustaf Lundin of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Numerous studies predict coral reefs are headed for extinction worldwide, largely because of global warming, pollution and coastal development, but also because of damage from bottom-dragging fishing boats and the international trade in jewelry and souvenirs made of coral.
At least 19 percent of the world’s coral reefs are already gone, including some 50 percent of those in the Caribbean. An additional 15 percent could be dead within 20 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Old Dominion University professor Kent Carpenter, director of a worldwide census of marine species, warned that if global warming continues unchecked, all corals could be extinct within 100 years.
“You could argue that a complete collapse of the marine ecosystem would be one of the consequences of losing corals,” Carpenter said. “You’re going to have a tremendous cascade effect for all life in the oceans.”
Exotic and colorful, coral reefs aren’t lifeless rocks; they are made up of living creatures that excrete a hard calcium carbonate exoskeleton. Once the animals die, the rocky structures erode, depriving fish of vital spawning and feeding grounds.
Experts say cutting back on carbon emissions to arrest rising sea temperatures and acidification of the water, declaring some reefs off limits to fishing and diving, and controlling coastal development and pollution could help reverse, or at least stall, the tide.
Florida, for instance, has the largest unbroken “no-take” zone in the continental U.S. — about 140 square miles off limits to fishing in and around Dry Tortugas National Park, a cluster of islands and reefs teeming with marine life about 70 miles off Key West.
Many fishermen oppose such restrictions. And other environmental measures have run into resistance at the state, local, national and international level. On Sunday, during a gathering of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, restrictions proposed by the U.S. and Sweden on the trade of some coral species were rejected.
If reefs were to disappear, commonly consumed species of grouper and snapper could become just memories. Oysters, clams and other creatures that are vital to many people’s diets would also suffer. And experts say commercial fisheries would fail miserably at meeting demand for seafood.
For each of the past six years, Congress has introduced legislation to tighten cruise ship discharge laws. Last year is no exception. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) co-sponsored yet another version of the Clean Cruise Ship Act. The intent is simple: to bring sewage and other gray water discharges under the Clean Water Act and require ships to install advanced treatment systems and travel farther than 12 nautical miles offshore before discharging any sewage.
Check out this great 2 part article:
http://dcbureau.org/20100104305/Natural-Resources-News-Service/dirty-waters-cashing-in-on-ocean-pollution.html (Part 1)
http://dcbureau.org/20100104306/Natural-Resources-News-Service/dirty-waters-the-politics-of-ocean-pollution.html (Part 2)
By Kevin Spear, Orlando Sentinel
11:04 PM EST, January 24, 2010
The perilous road to the state’s water future swerves through Central Florida this week when separate groups look to unify the region to share water, clean up iconic Wekiwa Springs and draft a far-reaching water bill for this year’s Legislature.
As if that’s not challenging enough already, the deliberations will take place under a newly formed cloud — or rainbow, depending on your perspective — arising from a federal-government move to impose stringent pollution limits on Florida facilities such as sewage plants, dairy-cow operations and industrial plants.
“It will have a huge impact if it’s implemented,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Tallahassee, of the federal initiative. “The big question is if it is all for show.”
The recent intervention by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, brewing for a decade, has been cheered by environmental groups, vilified by business interests and given mixed reviews by state authorities.
“Their [EPA] numbers, I agree, are protective, but I do question whether they go farther than they need to,” said Mike Sole, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
At stake is the health of Florida’s rivers and lakes — many of them sick with rampant algae growth — versus the likelihood that compliance with federal pollution controls would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. EPA officials in Washington are preparing a trio of hearings in Florida, with one in Orlando on Feb. 17, to hear public comment en route to adopting the proposed rule later this year.
“EPA is proposing these standards based on the best science to protect people’s health and preserve Florida’s water bodies used for drinking, swimming, fishing and tourism,” said Peter Silva, assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Water in Washington.
Those same water uses will be brought up repeatedly today during three consecutive meetings in the Lake Mary Events Center. All three are open to the public.
•At 10 a.m., myregion.org, a smart-growth program at the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, will coax Seminole County leaders to join in developing a strategy for sharing and finding new water supplies among seven Central Florida counties.
•At 1:30 p.m., the Waive River Basin Commission meeting will continue its push for environmental safeguards required by state law before the last segment of Orlando’s beltway can be built across the Waive River. Among the controversial issues: What to do about 50,000 septic tanks suspected of polluting the aquifer waters that gush from Wekiwa Springs.
•At 4 p.m., state Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, will chair a hearing of the state Senate’s Committee on Florida’s Inland Waters. Constantine has scheduled several such gatherings across the state to shape legislation with the potential to address Florida’s springs, water-project funding and the new EPA rule.
“It will certainly be something not seen in Florida before,” Constantine said of his legislative plans.
The EPA rule could also bring with it something Florida has never experienced before: a different way of protecting state waters from pollution that contains phosphorus and nitrogen compounds. Those are essential nutrients for plants but, in excess, often cause devastating algae growths.
Florida’s current pollution limits rely on a “narrative” standard, which requires that “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of a body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna.” The EPA, by contrast, is proposing a “numeric” standard that sets specific limits for phosphorus and nitrogen compounds.
EPA officials say Florida’s approach is cumbersome and not up to the task of reversing the decline in state water quality.
Sole, of Florida’s DEP, said his agency agrees that numeric standards are needed — and will be more costly. However, Florida has done far more scientific evaluation of its waters than the EPA has, so it can do a more precise and cost-effective job of imposing the new approach, he said.
“I’ve decided to go ahead and continue to work with EPA on their effort and provide them with comments and hopefully give them sufficient scientific evidence in some of the areas that the rule can be improved upon,” Sole said. “Hopefully, we will see a rule that is appropriately protective of Florida waters but doesn’t go unnecessarily too far and cost us more money than needed.”
The timing of the EPA standards is being driven by the settlement of a lawsuit filed by five environmental groups that pushed to have the agency enforce the federal Clean Water Act in Florida. Those same groups will watch closely as EPA moves to honor the legal settlement and implement the rule.
“They are under the microscope of a federal court order, and they know we will stay in court forever if they don’t do something that is scientifically sound and is going to move us in the direction of improving Florida’s waters,” said Young, of the Clean Water Network.
By BILL KACZOR
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TALLAHASSEE | The federal government will attempt to set Florida’s water pollution standards – the first time it’ll try that for any state – under an agreement approved Monday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle rejected objections from state and local government agencies as well as agriculture and business interests.
They had argued the agreement would result in hastily drawn, unscientific rules and that complying with them would be too costly as taxpayers and businesses cope with the recession.
In approving the consent decree between five environmental groups and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Hinkle noted that it allows for delays in the rule-making process to make sure regulations are proper.
He said other objections are premature and must wait until after the proposed regulations have been drafted.
SEA to conduct expedition dedicated to measuring plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic Ocean
“This trip will explore an area southeast of Bermuda that, it is hypothesized, is an extension of the high plastic pollution region defined by more than 200 previous SEA voyages in the Western North Atlantic. Observations from those trips indicate the area has large concentrations of plastic debris comparable to the region of the Eastern North Pacific Ocean dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”