Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No More Rainbows or Fairies

Two species will no longer be found in Florida, the South Florida rainbow snake and the Florida fairy shrimp were declared extinct by Federal wildlife officials in October. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also declared eight freshwater species as threatened or endangered and agency plans continuing their protection efforts by surveying 374 freshwater species across the southeast, 114 of those native to Florida, to evaluate the need for protection.

Florida houses a multitude endangered and threatened species, included but not limited to: sea turtles, manatees, humpback whales, Florida panthers, gopher tortoises, and beach mice. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes that this survey will assist the agency in making a determination as to what further actions must be made to protect threatened and endangered species in Florida.

While some endangered animals, such as the manatee, draw a significant amount of media attention, many environmentalists voice concern for animals that may not have as much publicity. This seems to be the plight of the South Florida rainbow snake and the fairy shrimp. The rainbow snake has not been spotted since 1952, and fairy shrimp were most recently spotted ten years ago. While the rainbow snake and the fairy shrimp may not make great posters or photo opportunities, both were key to ecosystems, and these ecosystems will have to adapt without their presence. The public should not limit preservation to the most popular creatures, but rather should focus their efforts on all the creatures necessary to maintain delicate ecosystems. When a piece of an ecosystem is gone, then the whole ecosystem can be thrown off balance, and many others creatures may die as a result.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conjunction with the Center for Biological Diversity will finalize the list by 2018, but this action will come much too late for the South Florida rainbow snake and the fairy shrimp. A place on the list requires consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to development of a habitat for one of species on the list. The developer then creates a habitat conservation plan protecting the species. Recent developers endanger the habitats of many species unique to Florida through rapid expansion. Developers are not the only threat to species in Florida, the loss can also be due to overhunting, pesticides, vehicle collisions, or even weather conditions and viral infections. Some species have become so fragile that a hurricane or viral infection can cause their extinction. However, some Floridians fear federal involvement will decrease statewide unilateral protection for the species. State legislation has been successful for the gopher tortoise, who if found, must be relocated prior to construction.

Protecting wildlife must be a multi-tiered effort. While the public should support the efforts of state and federal agencies to protect wildlife, it is also important to remember conservation begins at home. Therefore, being of how you rid your home of gasoline, pesticides, and paint thinner, can all be important steps in decreasing the impact that humans have on Florida wildlife. For a list of endangered and threatened species in Florida you can visit: or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Database.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who is Taking the LEED is Sports?

In building the Marlin’s new ballpark, construction showed deference to environmental concerns. The construction manager ensured that the materials were separated and recycled, significantly reducing the waste made in creating this ball park. The crew recycled up to 98% of the construction waste.

The inside of the stadium has also undergone green consideration with the installation of 249 waterless urinals, and the utilization of low energy glass around the stadium. These installations will decrease the stadiums usage of water and electricity. The stadium implements solar lights, reducing energy consumption, as well as a recycling program, to reduce waste.

The company insists that the industry has shifted toward green products, whereas 15-20 years ago, sustainability was not discussed in a project such as this one. The Marlins hope to gain either silver or gold LEED certification by the U.S. Green Council. There are others who are making concerted efforts, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins whose new arena was awarded a LEED gold certification, and the Washington Nationals ballpark which gained LEED silver certification. Other franchises such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Boston Red Sox have retrofited their stadiums to make energy saving changes.

This concerted effort in creating an environmentally friendly building shows new considerations in construction. Many new residential and commercial buildings also try to achieve LEED certification. An internationally recognized green building certification system, the U.S. Green Building Council LEED was developed in 2000. The Green Building Council believes that LEED can assist builders in identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The Green Building Council made requirements flexible enough to apply to both residential and commercial design and these requirements benefit building owners and tenants through economic and social rewards. The U.S. Green Council, awards points for installing everything from solar powered lights, water saving toilets, bike racks, and even low energy glass.

John Knight, a Populous architect, explains that "operators are starting to realize that being smart about design can actually go to the bottom line and make buildings less expensive to operate over the life of the building." Knight continued that once educated, operators are excited to make environmental changes that can also save them money.

Many hope that this move toward LEED certification as regular construction practice in sports stadiums will encourage other buildings to make similar changes in order to be more environmentally friendly and LEED compliant, and hopefully they will also reap the additional economic rewards. Knight states that he hopes that LEED certification will become integrated with building codes, and become ordinary practice for business and builders alike.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Extern

Friday, November 11, 2011

There Are Worse Things than Sharks in the Water

When the warm weather returns and you prepare for a day of fun in the sun at the beach, add a new step to your routine, check online for water quality reports at the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) website. After analyzing three thousand United States beaches the NRDC found serious contamination in the waters. This contamination comes primarily from sewage pipes and storm water runoff that dump fecal waste, oil and other kinds of pollution into lakes and oceans. This contamination from sewage and storm water led to more than 24,000 beach closings and advisories in 2010. The 2010 beach closings and advisories were the second highest number in the last two decades. The contamination affects primarily the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems, and can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, skin rashes, pinkeye and other health problems.

The worst beach contamination offenders: Avalon Beach and all of Cabrillo Beach Station in Los Angeles County; parts of Dohoney State Beach in Orange County; North Point Marina North Beach in Illinois; Beachwood Beach West in New Jersey. Florida's Keaton Beach, and four beaches in Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, have failed water quality tests more than 25 percent of the time for the past five years in a row. While the Southeast did the best out of all the regions with just 4% of samples exceeding standards, there are still some precautions that should be taken when swimming in the ocean.

Check the NRDC website to see the water contamination at your beach, don't swim near a storm drain, and if the water looks or smells strange do not swim in it, frequently wash your hands, and take a shower after you swim. There also a few things you can do at home to prevent contamination such as fixing old, leaky sewage pipes and adding grass around parking lots to absorb rainwater. Helena Solo-Gabriele, an environmental engineer at the University of Miami in Florida, is hoping for faster testing techniques, the current detection takes twenty-four hours, to assist the public in knowing when waters are safe. She suggests that so long as reasonable precautions are taken, the public’s safety isn’t compromised by swimming at the beach.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blocking Out the Sun

Recently mosquito planes have been spraying pesticide over Atlantic
Beach. And while generally this activity is legal, its details are
largely unknown and somewhat hidden from the general public. But why?

Just looking at one area for example, the Mosquito Control Division
(MCD) of the Environmental Resource Management Department responds to
mosquito control issues in Atlantic Beach. The MCD controls adult
mosquitoes by applying ultra-low volume (ULV) sprays containing
malathion, Dibrom, Baytex, or pyrethroids. Sometimes these are
applied as a thermal fog aerially. All pesticides used by MCD are EPA
registered and considered “safe for the environment.” The information
about where the MCD is spraying and where they will spray is available
on their website (
According to the website, Atlantic Beach was treated most recently on
August 17, 2011. But not all cities and counties are as open as
Atlantic Beach, and none are required to be.
Both the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
and Florida Statute 388 allow for the spraying of pesticides from
planes. And Florida Statute 388 emphasizes balancing the natural
environment with the potential problems wrought by the insects that
affect the public’s wellbeing or causes annoyance, including all
mosquitoes, midges, sand flies, dog flies, yellow flies, and house
flies. This appears to be a good public policy, weighing the
interests of the environment with those of the citizens, so how is it

Every county in Florida has a committee which deals with these insects
and they retain the power to take whatever action the county requires
in dealing with the public health risks. These control measures apply
to public lands and must be approved by the Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services, and performed by the local control agency
consistent with a public lands control plan. The control measures are
meant to insure that the application of pesticides is made only when
necessary by determining a need, such as a potential for a
mosquito-borne disease outbreak. The committees are supposed to apply
the minimum, economically feasible, option to prevent a public health
or nuisance problem while imposing the least hazard to fish, wildlife,
and other natural resources.

More specifically, Florida Administrative Code Title 5 Chapter
5E-13021 and 13.036 allows aircraft applications of mosquito
adulticide along beaches and bay shores only when there is a
demonstrable three-fold increase over a base population. The only way
to check to see if this rule is followed is to get a hold of the
surveillance and adulticide application records, which must be kept on
file for at least three years. There are also special rules applying
to aircraft control activities conducted over private lands when there
is a possibility of deposition of airborne substances. These rules
require that the control activities be conducted in a manner which
minimizes the deposition of insecticide onto such lands. In addition,
there are timing rules in place including, but not limited to, a rule
stating that the spraying for certain insects shall not occur between
two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset. As mentioned
above, after an aerial operation takes place, records shall be
maintained for a minimum of three years which will include at least
the following: the area treated, the application rate and the material
used, the equipment and technique used, the name of the pilot in
command, the date, time, temperature, and general wind speed and
direction, pretreatment and post-treatment records of mosquito
presence. So it is clear that a citizen may obtain records after the
fact, but what about prior notice? What if one is concerned that
their child may breathe in these chemicals when they’re playing in the
backyard? To get advanced notice, get ready to divulge personal

If a citizen wants notification of these activities, one has to
request to be placed on the notification list. This requires showing:
that a physician has examined the person and determined that the
placement of the person on the registry for prior notification of the
application of a pesticide or class of pesticides is necessary to
protect their health; the distance surrounding the person's primary
residence for which the person requires prior notification of the
application of a pesticide or class of pesticides in order to protect
the person's health; the pesticide or class of pesticides for which
the physician has determined that prior notification to the person is
necessary to protect the person's health; and the license number of
the physician. Such requirements certainly have a chilling effect and
it is worth asking, “Who are these rules meant to protect? The
public, or some other group?”

So while the City of Atlantic Beach appears to be upfront with their
mosquito-spraying, the only way to really tell is to request their
records and check them against their internally generated reports.
And if you live outside of Atlantic Beach, you may need to divulge
information about your health, or your child’s health.

-Sloane Tait and Andrew Miller

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Green(er) Workplace

Environmentally conscientious behavior can begin in the home, but what about your other home, the office? There are plenty of easy ways in which you can become more environmentally-conscious in the work place. First, you can pack a waste free lunch. This sounds daunting, but really just involves a few simple changes. Start with a reusable carrier, reusable containers, a thermos for drinks, a cloth napkin, and silverware that you can reuse. The key is that none of these items need to be thrown away. It may cost a bit more up front, but since you use these items regularly, you would be surprised how much you can save, and how much less waste you are producing over time. You can also post a sign in the break room to request people to bring in unwanted silverware, plates, mugs, etc. This way other people can use re-usable items at work, and you get to clean out your cabinets.

Another way you can help create a greener workplace is to encourage recycling. If your workplace doesn’t currently recycle, then talk to management and see if it is feasible to put one into place. It will help to remind management that recycling reduces waste disposal costs. If your office already has a recycling program in place, use it. Get an extra trashcan at your desk, and throw away paper separately, so that it will be easier to put it in the bin later. If you separate paper from your other trash you won’t have to root through the trash to separate it later.

You can also encourage management to utilize recycled materials, such as printing paper. Recycled paper can save money, and it’s especially good for inter-office memos and other in-office items that won’t be sent to clients. If you have input on the office supplies that your office purchases, consider green choices such as the Responsible Purchasing Network, the Green Seal of Approval, the Environmental Yellow Pages, the Green Pages Online, and purchasing environmentally-friendly building products. Your office can also utilize environmentally friendly packing material such as Lock n’ Pop. Another suggestion is to buy refurbished computers which are cheaper than new computers, or suggest donating your office’s used computer equipment. Even if every product your office uses isn’t environmentally friendly, small changes can make a big difference.

Reducing energy usage is another great way to help the environment. Energy Star for Small Business will assist you with an energy audit, and tell you ways that you can reduce your consumption. There are also some common sense techniques such as: unplugging things when they aren’t in use, turning off lights when you leave a room, making sure faucets and toilets aren’t leaking.

These are some quick and easy ways to save energy and help the environment at work. For all the resources used in this article go to:, to assist in your efforts for a green workplace.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Friday, October 14, 2011


An old proverb says that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A New Jersey man has made that true for himself in his capitalist venture. Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, created a company which turns non-recyclable waste into recycled eco-friendly products. They do everything from making juice pouches into school folders and backpacks, and transforming chip bags into couches. He has even incorporated other businesses, such as Old Navy who collects old flip-flops, which TerraCycle then turns into playgrounds.

There are many ways to recycle household items to make them useful. Architecture for Humanity and Rubicon National Social Innovations created a contest encouraging entrants to find alternate uses for mattresses. The winning design was called the Helix, which reused these mattresses as sound absorption devices.

This idea is not new as we have all heard the mantra: reduce, reuse, and recycle, it is just more streamlined and modernized. Today you might find on YouTube a clip from the President of Weisenbach Recycled Products demonstrating how to make jewelry out of bottle caps. Other YouTube videos boast creative recycling options for everything from purses made of gum wrappers to table decorations made from glass bottles or two liter bottles. Recycling decreases the amounts of waste that fill up our land-fills, and these products are creative ways to re-use products for which we have already paid. By re-using what we already have and refurbishing it into something new, there is a satisfaction in gaining a new product, and also an appreciation in saving the environment and your wallet. While we may not all be budding entrepreneurs, these products can change the way that we see trash, and its potential uses in our lives.

See the clips here:

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Friday, September 23, 2011

Utilizing Brownfields to Revitalize Economies

The Brownfields Center at the Environmental Law Institute defines a Brownfield as “[a]n industrial or commercial property that remains abandoned or underutilized in part because of environmental contamination or the fear of such contamination.” The Brownfields National Partnership was created in May of 1997, and it brought together approximately fifteen governmental organizations to begin brownfields projects to revitalize communities. One exemplary example is the Brownfield project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This project focused on mothballed properties and allowed for previously un-utilized properties to be restored and assisted the local economy of Milwaukee. Six properties were the primary target of the program, and were able to garner or retain 1,604 jobs and leverage more than $199 million in private investment.

Florida has its own brownfield program called the Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Program. This program utilizes economic and regulatory incentives to encourage the use of private revenue to clean up and redevelop sites, which creates new jobs and improves local economies. The Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Program has estimated they have created 2,372 new direct jobs, 3,057 new indirect jobs in 2010, and 1,556 new direct jobs, and 1,312 new indirect jobs for 2011. They also boast new capital investments of $76 million dollars from the program. A total of forty-seven sites have been rid of contamination and improved for public use since the program began.

A particular recent brownfield project in Florida has also had great success. In Ft. Myers, a former brownfield cite has been transformed from a coal gasification plant into the “Imaginarium,” which is a campus which includes a children’s museum, theater, outdoor pavilion, lagoon system, and emergency operations center. This center is allowing a previously contaminated site to become a local center for the City and providing an area that is both child-friendly and a great generator of jobs and revenue.

The Florida Brownfields Redevelopment Program is an excellent example of how environmentally friendly programs can also revive the economy. These sites, previously subject to excess waste, were unusable land. Being able to rid these lands of contamination and expand jobs improves local economies, allows for efficient use of the land, and improves the communities in which they are located.

-Sloan Tate, Legal Intern

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jacksonville is Unwalkable!

Jacksonville was just recently named the least walkable city in the United States by Walk Score which is a company that evaluates walkability and transportation in major cities. This is the second year that the City has received this dishonor. Jacksonville earned a score of 32.6 on a scale from zero to 100. Our score was low because many neighborhoods in Jacksonville are completely dependent on cars as their only means of transportation. The silver lining is that downtown, San Marco, and Riverside are the most walkable parts of the City. These areas were moderately walkable for those in the residential areas. However, Walk Score found Eagle Bend near Main Street and Yellow Bluff Road, near Interstate 10 and West Beaver Street and Black Hammock Island near State Road A1A, and the Little Talbot Island State Park, as the least walkable. These neighborhoods were basically un-walkable, and it was almost impossible to get around without a car.

Even though the top five walkable cities in the U.S. were larger cities with more resources than Jacksonville, we can certainly learn from cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Walking is an inexpensive and eco-friendly alternative to driving a car, and Jacksonville should make more strides to become friendlier to walkers. There are a number of benefits overall for those who live in walking-friendly neighborhoods. For example they tend to have residents who are up to eight pounds lighter, residents save on energy, and their neighborhoods tend to be worth more. It makes sense that these neighborhoods have these benefits, it’s easier to stay in shape when it is possible to work out in your own neighborhood. With growing concerns about obesity in families, being able to walk could be a fun, cost-effective way to get from point A to point B.

Jacksonville could increase their score by decreasing the distance between neighborhoods and grocery stores, restaurants, schools, parks, and public transit. The easiest way to do this would be to improve public transit. Public transit can be a cost effective alternative to commuting via car. However, many in Jacksonville feel that it’s hard to travel by bus because it doesn’t reach the areas in which they live. Increasing buses could be overly expensive, in a time when our city lacks funding. Perhaps a more cost effective alternative would be to improve sidewalks and create more walkways to make areas more pedestrian friendly. These changes would require minimal costs but could greatly improve the quality of life for Jacksonville residents. It would decrease the number of cars on our highways, which in turn would decrease traffic. Decreasing traffic decreases pollution, and could lead to an improvement in our air quality. Considering that Jacksonville’s air pollution is among the worst in the Florida, and Duval County was named the most polluted county in Florida, it is important that we begin the discussion about cost effective ways to improve.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Is What's Good for Panthers Bad for People?

Adult panthers have increased in numbers to now as many as 160 in South Florida. When the restoration project began in the 1970’s there were only 20 adult panthers in Florida. This is great progress for a species that was struggling to survive only a few years ago. The panthers have been seen as far not as the Caloosahatchee River and some have even been seen in Georgia.

However, this promising growth has led to the concern that the population has been encouraged too much. The most significant concerns come from the raisers of livestock that are complaining about increases in losses of the amounts of valuable livestock every year to these predators. The recovery plan by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission calls for 240 adult panthers in Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to work with homeowners as the population of panthers increases to prevent danger to both the human and panther populations, for they believe that it is possible for both to coexist. Many landowners are concerned though that this increase will decrease their profitability as they continue to lose more cattle, goats, and pigs, to panthers.

The solution proposed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is to reimburse these owners of lost livestock from a $25,000 recovery fund. While this seems inadequate to the amount of livestock lost, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suggests that there has to be a trade off. They also suggest that steps such as building enclosures, installing lighting or electric fencing around enclosures, keeping pets indoors at night or in covered kennels, securing garbage, and fencing in vegetable gardens, can all assist in aiding people and panthers to coexist. Panthers generally do not pose a direct threat to humans because they are creatures that avoid large populations and prefer not to be disturbed. Panthers were however responsible for 12 livestock deaths in 2010, and this year they have been responsible for approximately 14 more. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also suggests that one reason why panthers may be targeting livestock is that wild hogs and white-tailed deer, which are the preferred foods for panthers, are not as available due to human hunters artificially maintaining their populations.

There is always a tough balance when animal populations that had been depleted begin to grow significantly after being protected. It is important to protect the interests of livestock owners in Florida, but also to protect the panthers who roamed the land first. As populations of endangered animals increase it is important to re-evaluate the feasibility of them being able to thrive in limited space and with limited food supplies.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Competing Interests of Wind Turbines and Wildlife

Wind turbines are an important method of providing power and generating electricity. It is often thought that this is a one of the more eco-friendly ways to provide power. However, some studies show that wind turbines can greatly affect wildlife such as birds. When balancing these competing interests, are wind turbines really eco-friendly?

According to John Laumer’s article, “Common Eco-Myth: Wind Turbines Kill Birds,” vehicles in the U.S. kill millions of birds each year, and between 100 million to 1 billion birds collide with windows. Compare that number to the 2001 National Wind Coordinating Committee study, which revealed that turbines kill 2.19 bird deaths per turbine per year. These figures would appear to show that wind turbines are far less harmful than both cars and windows to the avian population. But other research argues otherwise.

The article “Energy in America: Dead Birds Unintended Consequence of Wind Power Development” by William La Jeunesses suggests that eagles, hawks, and owls often fall prey to wind turbines. He explains that California’s largest wind farms kill more than 80 eagles per year, and this number will increase steadily as the state increases its reliance on wild power. The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, another California wind farm, is a state-approved wind farm, and it kills 4,700 birds annually, including 1,300 raptors, among them 70 golden eagles. These animals are not only majestic, but important to the natural environment of the United States, and balancing these competing interests, even in one of the most eco-forward states, is incredibly difficult. Many complain that as wind farms become larger and more prevalent, it is becoming more and more difficult for these birds to avoid them. On the other hand, the more prevalent these wind farms are the less reliant California is on other sources of power.

The article “Renewable Energy’s Environmental Paradox,” by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, explains that a new development, the SunZia transmission line that would link sun and wind power from central New Mexico with cities in Arizona, would be a great environmental accomplishment from the perspective of generating solar and wind power for a large area. However, the site that was chosen crosses grasslands, skirts two national wildlife refuges and crosses the Rio Grande, both of these areas have precarious eco-systems and are areas rich in wildlife. The building of this line would specifically affect the Sandhill crane’s winter home. This was poor planning on the part of the builders and planners of this project, and because of its location, it will likely have a greater negative environmental impact then it would have had it been located elsewhere.

Wind energy is one of the strongest alternatives currently available to counteract our reliance on oil. However, the more it is used, the more likely it is to have a larger impact. Wind turbines can be an effective way to decrease our dependence on oil, but if it comes at the cost of wild life, then it may not be worth the expense. More research will have to be done to evaluate whether there are more effective ways of preserving the avian population, and protecting them from their interactions with wind turbines. It is also essential that when these sites are chosen, there is careful evaluation of the location of the site in relation to animal habitats, specifically avian habitats.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

EPA to Issue New Rules Regarding Mercury Pollution

The EPA Has Proposed New Rules for Mercury and Toxics Emissions

In March of 2011, the EPA proposed a new set of mercury and air toxic
standards. The proposed standards by the EPA would reduce the
emissions of toxic air pollutants from new and existing coal- and
oil-fired electric utility steam generating units (EGUs), an important
development for Jacksonville, FL. A special section of the proposed
standards called the "Toxics Rule" aims to reduce emissions of various
heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, chromium, and nickel. The
proposed standards will set numerical emission limits for these toxics
at both existing and new coal-fired EGUs. These toxic pollutants are
believed to be linked to cancer, heart disease, lung disease and
premature death.

Additionally, the new rules will limit emissions of organic air
toxics, including dioxin, by establishing work practices for existing
and new coal and oil-fired power plants. One example is by requiring
an annual performance test program for each EGU. The annual
performance test program will “include inspection, adjustment, and/or
maintenance and repairs to ensure optimal combustion.”

The Benefits of the Proposed Standards

The EPA anticipates that the new standards will prevent 91% of mercury
from entering the air, which will hopefully help reduce the risk of
air pollutants damaging the brains of children, pollutants which are
thought to result in loss of IQ and a diminished ability to learn.
The EPA anticipates that the standards will also protect Americans
from cancer and other health risks that they may have acquired from
exposure to these metals. And of course, the proposed standards are
also expected to protect thousands of lakes, streams, rivers, and
wetlands from mercury and acid rain pollution.

Perhaps unexpectedly, employment rates are also anticipated to benefit
from these new pro-environmental standards. The EPA has predicted
that the new standards will provide employment for tens of thousands
of Americans to build, install, and operate the equipment that will be
used to reduce emissions of mercury, acid gases, and other toxic air
pollutants, a win-win situation for sure.

The Opposition to the Proposed Standards

Some utilities have already implemented the technology that would be
required to meet these proposed standards, but other utilities like
American Electric Power (AEP) have not and they are lobbying Congress
to delay finalizing the proposed rules. Utility companies’ lobbyists
argue that cutting emissions as the proposed standards require will
cause them an economic hardship. And Congressman Ed Whitfield, a
representative from Kentucky, a coal-producing state, said that House
Republicans will introduce legislation in August to postpone the
proposed standards. Whitfield has been on record as saying, "We don't
really have expectations that we can repeal all of this, but if we can
delay the final rule, delay the compliance period and address whether
or not technology is really available, then I think we've accomplished
a lot.” The Public Trust will keep an eye on this proposed

When Will we See these New Standards?

Back in June, 2011, due to requests by Congress and in order to
encourage more public comments, the EPA extended the time for the
public to give input by 30 days from its prior deadline of July 5,
2011. Thus the EPA will be accepting comments on the proposed standard
until August 4, 2011. The final standards are scheduled to be
issued in November 2011. This November deadline may be subject to
change if there are continued lobbying efforts and the House
Republicans are able to get legislation passed that will delay the
standards. However, as of now the proposed standards should be
finalized and issued in November 2011. Stay tuned to see who dares to
stand in the way of healthier children, adults, and environment.

-Andrew Miller, Executive Director

Friday, July 8, 2011

City of Jax Beach to "Renurish" Our Beaches

Another round of beaches “renourishment” will begin in Jacksonville Beach today, Friday July 8, 2011. The last beach “renourishment” project was in 2005. Beach “renourishment” is the process by which sand that has been eroded from the shoreline is being replaced with sand from another source of sand. The Beaches’ shoreline has been eroded due to jetties and dredging of the St. Johns River. The beaches “renourishment” project is expected to replace about 735,000 cubic yards of sand. Sand will be pumped from the bottom of the ocean about eight miles off shore and then the sand will be distributed on the shore. The entire project will cost about 11 million and it is being funded with federal funds (62%), state funds (18%), and Jacksonville City funds (20%).

Work will begin in Jacksonville Beach near 36th Avenue South and it will move north to about one block south of Florida Avenue. Then work will move north towards Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach from Lemon Street to just south of 19th Street in Atlantic Beach. The entire project is expected to last for at least 50 days, including about a month in Jacksonville Beach and about three weeks through Atlantic Beach. Work will be done 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Portions of the beach where work will be conducted will be temporarily closed. However, areas outside of the work will remain open.

Beachgoers may notice that the sand will be a different color than the sand that was there before the project began. However, according to the City of Jacksonville Beach the replacement sand met criteria set by the state of Florida for Duval County beaches including proper “grain size distribution, shell content, and color.” Also, according to the City of Jacksonville Beach, within a few days or weeks the sun will bleach the sand and the sand will turn into a color that is similar to the color of the sand before it was replaced. The City of Jacksonville Beach has concluded that this beach “renourishment” project will “protect us from future tropical storms, hurricanes, and nor'easters” and that the project is important to preserve the beach, recreation, environmental habitat, and property along the shore.

Although there are alleged benefits to beach “renourishment” there are also some consequences that may occur due to beach “renourishment.” Since the replacement sand will be pumped from the bottom of the ocean it can be expected that the pumping will negatively affect organisms and habitats that are in the area where the sand is being pumped. Also the placement of the pumped sand on the shore may negatively affect organisms and habitats where the replacement sand is being distributed. Therefore while it is important to deal with beach erosion, the process of beach “renourishment” may not be the best option. The negative consequences of beach “renourishment” should be taken into consideration and weighed against the benefits that the beach “renourishment” is expected to bring. However, it seems like beach “renourishment” is the only option being exercised and considered by the government, perhaps citizens should examine other ways that the government can best deal with beach erosion.

-Antionette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Protecting the Atmosphere for Future Generations through Atmospheric Trust Litigation

Mary C. Wood, an environmental law professor at the University of Oregon argues that the atmosphere is a natural resource that should be protected in trust by the government, making the government trustee of the atmosphere and obligating the government to reduce carbon emissions to protect the atmosphere and combat climate change. This theory is based on the public trust doctrine which is a legal principle that requires the government to protect natural resources that belong to the people, for present and future generations. Under this theory every level of government from federal to state to local governments could be held accountable for protecting the atmosphere as a public trust.

Wood argues that “atmospheric trust litigation” is a way for citizens to bring lawsuits against their governments in order to force governments to meet their obligations to protect the atmosphere. So how does atmospheric trust litigation work? First courts must declare that the atmosphere is in the public trust. Then courts could make a judgment that sets the trust obligations that governments have to comply with. Courts could also order an accounting against governments, which requires governments to measure their carbon footprint and then show courts that they are reducing carbon emissions based on scientific findings. Through this accounting, citizens would be able to see if their governments are really reducing carbon emissions. In addition, if courts find that government officials are not meeting their obligations courts could hold officials in contempt of court or make rulings prohibiting activities that contribute to carbon emissions. In May, 2011, Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Oregon filed suit in all 50 states on behalf of children, alleging that government entities violated the public trust doctrine because they failed to limit greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Our Children’s Trust asked courts to find that states have a duty to future generations to protect the atmosphere in trust immediately.

The public trust doctrine has usually been used to protect public access to navigable waterways and beaches. Therefore, getting courts to agree to declare the atmosphere within the public trust may be very difficult because this would require courts to accept an untraditional legal argument. Atmospheric trust litigations are currently being litigated, so the public will have to wait and see whether or not courts will find that the atmosphere should be protected in trust. Perhaps if one court agrees that the atmosphere should be protected in trust then other courts will follow suit, but so far no court has made a decision finding the atmosphere to be a resource held in trust by the people. Our Children’s Trust has upcoming hearings in several states with regard to their requests for courts to declare the atmosphere a public trust. The dates and times of those hearings can be found at

-Antionette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Selling and Developing Government Land

Last year the Jamaican government announced that it was going to sell 3,000 acres of property in Font Hill. The property is proposed to be used for the development of a large resort hotel. The land has many environmental features from beaches to agricultural lands to a mangrove forest. The land is also the habitat for wildlife ranging from the American alligator to the West Indian Whistling Duck to migratory birds. This sale has been strongly opposed by environmental lobbyists in Jamaica. These lobbyists are concerned about what will happen to the wildlife that are on the property and the destruction of natural resources. The government officials that support the development of Font Hill believe that the development will create jobs and help the economy. Lobbyists argue that the development may help the economy, but at what risk to an area of biodiversity?

Also in Jamaica, the Urban Development Corporation, a government agency, proposed to develop Winnifred Beach and deny the public access to the beach. The Corporation proposed to put cottages and villas on the beach. The public has opposed the development of the beach arguing that it will degrade the environment of the beach by negatively impacting species habitats and negatively impacting the coral reefs. The public has also argued that the beach has been used by the public for years and therefore the beach should remain open for public access.

Meanwhile, according to Dennis Kravitz, an AP business writer, in the United States in May, 2011, the Obama administration asked Congress to sell off 12,000 government owned properties claiming that they were under underutilized or were no longer needed. The Obama Administration says that taking the properties out of the government’s hands would save the government about $15 billion over a three year period. The United States government owns about 1 million pieces of property and pays about $20 billion a year to operate and maintain the properties. These talks to sell government owned properties came at a time when the government was trying to cut the deficit. The government proposed that the money that would be saved by selling the properties would be used 60% to pay the deficit and 40% to cover the costs to run government facilities. Selling these properties may allow for private entities to purchase and develop the properties causing environmental harms. There are environmental regulations that new developments may be subject to but should the government sell lands that have the potential for development causing environmental harms or does the economic benefit that the government will receive outweigh the potential environmental harms?

Should governments allow government owned lands to be privatized? It seems like every time the sale of government land or privatization of land has come up it almost always is proposed for an economic benefit. In Jamaica government owned property is being sold to develop a hotel to create jobs and a beach is being privatized to bring tourists to stay at cottages and villas on the beach. While in the United States, government land is being proposed to be sold to help pay off the government’s debt. While government economic interests are important I can’t help but wonder how privatization of these lands will impact the environment. Are these governments really taking into consideration the economic environmental benefits that these lands provide now?

-Antionette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Should the U.S. take action to protect Bluefin Tuna, Or should it be an International Effort?

The population of bluefin tuna has declined over the years due to overfishing and more recently the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population will be affected by the Gulf Oil spill. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition in May 2010 for protection of bluefin tuna as an endangered species, but in May 2011 the Obama Administration declined to give bluefin tuna endangered species protection. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that they would place the species on a watch list as they wait to see how the species is managed through international agreements and initiatives. Larry Robinson, NOAA’s assistant secretary stated that bluefin tuna did not need endangered species protection because the species was “not likely to become extinct.”

Other environmental organizations believe that bluefin tuna should be protected through an international effort instead of the U.S. unilaterally listing the species as an endangered species. However an international attempt last year to protect bluefin tuna at the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species was blocked. Also, according to Lee Crockett, the director of federal fisheries policy for the Pew Environment Group it has been suggested that international protection of the species has not been effective because fishermen still illegally catch more than the legal quota.

It is understandable that the Center for Biological Diversity would want the bluefin tuna to be given endangered species protection, but it seems as if not given the species endangered species protection was not an error because based on the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §1531, in determining whether a species is endangered the Secretary of Interior or Commerce shall give consideration to species that are in “danger of extinction.” Therefore, since bluefin tuna was not in danger of extinction at the time that the Center for Biological Diversity filed its petition, listing the bluefin tuna as an endangered species was not required. Therefore, if environmental organizations seek to protect the bluefin tuna they should either keep monitoring the species to see if it becomes in danger of extinction or push the U.S. government to join in any international agreement that seeks to protect the bluefin tuna. It is difficult in international agreements to get all of the countries to strictly enforce the agreement but just because an international agreement is not as strong or effective as environmental organizations would like them to be does not mean that the U.S. government has to take over regulation in an area that they have found does not need its unilateral protection or that is not required by its laws. However, it can become frustrating if all attempts to protect a species is merely for show on paper and no real protection is being done. Perhaps in a few years the issue of bluefin tuna receiving endangered species protection will be revisited.

-Antionette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vote for the Timucua National Park!!!

America Is Your Park Launches Today, Vote At For the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Park To Win $100,000!

Washington D.C. (June 29, 2011) – If you’re reading this, you should get to
your the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Park – STAT! The National Park Foundation, in partnership with Coca-Cola, America’s State Parks and the National Recreation and Park Association, launched today the second annual America Is Your Park campaign and is encouraging all Americans to get outdoors and embrace a healthy
lifestyle, while also embracing the importance of keeping our parks
protected and preserved.

Families are also invited to vote for their favorite park to win the title
of “America’s Favorite Park” and a $100,000 recreation grant made possible
by the Coca-Cola Live Positively initiative.

“Last year, millions of Americans showed their passion for their favorite
parks by voting, so this year we’ve raised the stakes – more parks can win
and there are more ways to vote,” said L. Celeste Bottorff, Vice President,
Living Well, Coca-Cola North America. “We’re asking people to be ‘digital’
by voting online for their favorite park and then get ‘physical’ by getting
out and having fun with us this summer.”

Throughout the summer, people can help their favorite national, state or
local park win big with just a click of a button and there is no limit on
the amount of times one can vote. There are four different ways people can
1. Click on their favorite park at and vote
2. Upload photos of themselves in their favorite park to
3. Starting August 10, they can upload video of themselves in their
favorite park to
4. Starting July 11, people also can vote by checking into a park using
Facebook Places

The three parks that receive the most votes by September 6, 2011 will be
awarded grants in the following amounts: First Place - $100,000; Second
Place - $50,000; and, Third Place - $25,000. These grants will help
restore, rebuild or enhance recreation areas in parks where people can play
and be active.

The campaign encourages people to attend active healthy living events at
local parks in select cities this summer. Additionally, people can watch,
download and share fitness-in-the-park videos from
featuring fitness icon Jake Steinfeld, founder of “Body By Jake.”

“Our national parks are home to our country’s treasures -- from our iconic
landscapes to the hallowed places where history happened,” said Neil
Mulholland, President and CEO, National Park Foundation. “Thanks to
dedicated partners like Coca-Cola and the America Is Your Park campaign,
our nation’s parks can continue to receive the vital support they need.”

Last year, thanks to more than 1.6 million votes cast by its supporters,
Bear Head Lake State Park in Ely, Minnesota was named “America’s Favorite
Park.” The park is using the grant to build a new warming hut to ensure
safety and comfort for winter sports enthusiasts all season long.

For more than 40 years, Coca-Cola has supported America’s parks through
partnerships with individual parks and national park organizations. The
Company has donated more than $14 million for restoration and renovation of
our country’s parks, including the restoration of more than 260 miles of
“Active Trails” for families to hike and explore, and development of the
first sustainable recycling program at The National Mall, a national park
in the heart of Washington, D.C. Most recently, Coca-Cola donated $1
million to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation’s Peopling of
America® Center, which helps to oversee the historic restoration of the
national park.

About The National Park Foundation
You are the owner of 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured
landscapes, ecosystems, and historic sites -- all protected in America’s
nearly 400 national parks. Chartered by Congress, the National Park
Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. We work
hand in hand with the National Park Service to connect you and all
Americans to the parks, and to make sure that they are preserved for the
generations who will follow.

Join us – This is Your Land.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Earn Discounts and Deals Just by Recycling

Recyclebank is a company that gives points and rewards to people who recycle and engage in green activities. Members can use the points that they have earned to claim rewards from places like Bloomingdales and Macy’s or get deals or discounts on products like Dove, Aveeno, and Kashi. These are only a few of the rewards; Recyclebank has over 100 rewards to choose from. If you want to get involved go to and register now. You can begin to earn points by learning about different recycling activities and taking quizzes or by referring friends to Recyclebank on Facebook or Twitter.

There are many other ways to earn points on Recyclebank after registering. First, members can recycle their electronic devices at Second, members can apply for a Gconomy Visa Card. Members can earn points by shopping with the card at participating Recyclebank Reward Partners (any company that offers rewards on Recyclebank is a partner) or anywhere Visa cards are accepted. Third, members can participate in conservation challenges on “The Future Friendly Neighbors” Facebook page at Fourth, members can earn points by recycling Kashi boxes and Ziploc bags. There will be a points code on the products that members can enter on to earn points. Fifth, members can earn points monthly by making a pledge on Aveeno’s Facebook page at https://www.face Sixth, members can earn points by recycling at home. Only some communities and waste haulers participate in Recyclebank’s Home Recycling program. Members will have to provide Recyclebank with their address, and Recyclebank will determine if the member is eligible for home recycling. The items that members can recycle at home are dependent on what each City accepts for recycling, so members should contact their local government to see what their City accepts. If members are in an area where there are no participating communities or waste haulers, then Recyclebank suggests that members send their local government or waste haulers a letter informing them about Recyclebank.

Recyclebank is a great resource because Recyclebank gives points for some of the recycling activities people already engage in. All you have to do now if you already recycle or are interested in green activities is go to, find what you are interested in and earn as many points as you like. This program is great even for those people who are just beginning to recycle because Recyclebank gives easy step by step instructions and tips for proper recycling. Now people can not only help save the environment but they can be rewarded for their actions. The more people join programs like Recyclebank the more it will get other people interested in recycling and in turn this will help save the environment.

-Antionette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Can Floridians and Their Children Breathe Easy This Summer?

Florida has many power plants; and according to an Environment Florida report, Dirty Energy’s Assault on Our Health: Ozone Pollution, those power plants are estimated to emit more smog-forming pollution than 45 other U.S. states. Now that the summer has arrived, smog is going to become even more of a problem because sunlight and hot weather cause smog to concentrate. Florida’s children who live in high smog areas and are exposed to the smog are going to be greatly affected by the high levels of smog concentration as they participate in summer activities outdoors. High levels of smog may even cause children to develop a diminished lung capacity. Smog can also affect children even when they are in the womb, by affecting their birth weight and by negatively affecting their growth. Adults are not immune from the health effects that exposure to smog pollution may cause either. This pollution can cause damage to lung tissue and the ability to breathe normally can be diminished.

What is our government doing about this problem? In July 2011 the U.S. EPA is geared up to finalize standards that will reduce emissions that cause the formation of smog. These rules will still allow smog to remain in the air but they are supposed to reduce the allowable level of emissions that create smog so that the air can be safe to breathe. Although the U.S. EPA is set to develop stricter standards they are being opposed by Congress and lobbyists that have threatened to block the rules. Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Ted Deutch support the stricter rules. Some in Congress feel that the stricter standards are not necessary because there are already smog standards in place from 2008, so they ask “why increase the standards and put pressure on the power plant industry?” They also ask, “if the standards in 2008 were supposed to protect the air that we breathe, then why does EPA need to set stricter standards?”

It can be assumed that the 2008 smog standards were enough to protect the public health but the fact that the U.S. EPA finds it necessary to finalize stricter standards makes me think that those standards are not enough to protect the health of Floridians and their children. Shouldn’t Floridians be able to breathe safely especially in the summer months when people want to enjoy the outdoors? I would say so, and the EPA is set to go ahead and set the stricter standards.

-Antoinette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Clean Water Jobs Act, the Right Solution?

Can the State of Washington clean its waterways and create jobs? In Washington, toxic runoff from roads and urban areas is the number one cause of water pollution. The major toxic substance affecting the state’s waterways is petroleum. A proposed bill, The Clean Water Jobs Act (Bill SB 5604 / HB 1735), seeks to clean up the water through the funding of local projects. The idea behind the act is to make polluters pay to clean up the pollution that they have caused. The act allows for a 1 percent fee on the first possession of petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers which contribute to storm water pollution. After fees are collected local governments will have to compete through a grant process to receive a portion of the money that has been collected by the State. It is estimated that the act will raise about $100 million annually.

This bill is designed to strengthen the State of Washington’s economy and create jobs while protecting the State’s waterways. This is a noble course of action by the State of Washington to make polluters pay for the damage they have caused to the environment. While it does seem fair that polluters will have to pay for their actions, the question remains, “how is the State going to distribute this money?”
Though it appears that the local governments will receive a substantial amount of the funds, preference is given to cities and counties that are using low-impact development (LID) like rain gardens and porous pavements, and cities and counties are required to show that they have met a match requirement by showing that they can “provide fifty percent of project or activity costs in matching funds from other nonstate fund sources.” SB 5604, Sec. 4. (2) (iv)(A).

If the act places an emphasis on using the funds for LIDs, then it seems that the job creation from this act will be temporary because all that the workers will be needed for is the construction phase, and then some of the jobs will no longer be needed leaving jobs only for those workers needed for maintenance of the new infrastructure.

Despite the fact that every bill has points that some people like or dislike, Washington believes that this is the best solution to clean up their waterways. If the Clean Water Jobs Act is such a great solution, then why hasn’t the federal government tried to create a similar bill? Well, maybe this type of scheme is best fit on a small scale, or maybe Washington will be a test state and then other states may follow and create similar acts. Nonetheless, this bill has been heavily lobbied against, so it is likely that even if the federal government wanted to try this, lobbyists would make it pretty difficult for it to pass through the U.S. Congress. Well time will tell whether this method that Washington has proposed will pass and if it is passed, whether or not it will work and achieve the goals the legislature has in mind.

-Antoinette Vanterpool, Legal Intern

Cruisin' on a Sunday Afternoon

As I sat on the deck of a luxury ocean liner not so long ago, I stared out at a pristine horizon where the sky blended into the sea without notice. The smell of saltwater filled the air, with the soft sound of calypso music serenading me as I drifted off to sleep. The peacefulness of this moment is in sharp contrast to what was actually happening below deck, in the hidden confines of this travelling polluter, as well as that which happens once the ship reaches port.

Since its ambitious beginnings in the 1960s, the cruising industry has quickly transformed from an exclusive lifestyle amenity of the rich and famous to a popular vacation alternative for society in general. In fact, the cruise industry is one of the most rapidly growing and highly visible segments of the tourism sector, with the number of cruise ship passengers growing almost twice as fast as any other international tourist representation in the last decade.

In Florida, as surprising as it may seem, there are no state laws to regulate the dumping of cruise ship pollutants into our waters. Instead, the practices of the cruise industry are governed in Florida by voluntary agreements between the State, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL). These Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s), as they are known, delineate that member cruise lines agree to discharge wastewater beyond Florida territorial waters (outside 3 miles) and stipulate that cruise ships will not discharge ballast water while in port. However, beyond three miles, dumping may legally be commenced to the detriment of our marine ecosystem.

For many years now, the cruise industry has been successful in veiling its environmental offenses through comforting, glossy pamphlets filled with visions of crystal clear oceans and sleek, appealing ocean liners that hygienically float amidst the horizon. An examination of travel agency brochures, cruise industry websites and television vacation advertisements suggests that the industry is environmentally responsible and that it has always been as such. Furthermore, press releases and promises by the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), the official trade organization of the cruise industry, support and persist in this deceptive public relations campaign. Unfortunately, reality is quite different. Most recently, the public attention that has been focused on the environmental impacts of the entire maritime industry has shifted to a particular interest in the cruise industry. This is due in large part because of the cruise industry=s preemptive attack to promote a positive image, but also as a result of the high visibility of these colossal ships and their blatant disregard for the environment on which they rely for business.

While the cruising industry represents a relatively small fraction of the entire maritime industry worldwide, as of January 2008, passenger ships accounted for approximately 12% of the world shipping fleet. It is notable that the environmental effects of the cruise industry is a major issue to many, but the industry is also a major contributor to the U.S. economy as it generates more than $32 billion in total annual benefits and creates more than 330,000 U.S. jobs. Furthermore, cruises are becoming increasingly popular in the United States, as ports of call in the United States handled 8.6 million cruise embarkations in 2008, accounting for 75% of worldwide passengers and 6.3% more than in 2009. However, the line between economic and environmental sustenance is a fine one.

To the cruise industry, a leading priority is demonstrating to the public that their ships are safe and healthy for passengers and the communities at which they harbor. Ironically, these cruise ships have also been dubbed Afloating cities,@ based on the comparison of the volume of wastes produced and disposed to that of many small cities on dry land. As a matter of fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that a single passenger aboard a cruise liner will generate approximately 100 gallons of wastewater per day, to include 10 gallons of sewage. More specifically, a Amega-ship@ with 5,000 passengers and crew will produce nearly 500,000 gallons of wastewater and 50,000 gallons of sewage every day of the year. Even further, during a typical week long voyage, a cruise ship carrying 3,000 passengers and crew is estimated to generate 210,000 gallons of sewage; 1 million gallons of graywater (wastewater from sinks, showers, and laundries); more than 130 gallons of hazardous wastes; 8 tons of solid waste; and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water. If this abundance of waste is not properly treated and disposed of, the effects on human health and the environment could be irreversible. Regrettably, existing laws are inadequate to address these wastes and enforcement of such laws is virtually non-existent. This hardly seems to support the vision of healthy people and vibrant coastal communities that the cruise industry so publicly supports, with their actions and government studies showing otherwise.

A significant step towards acknowledgement of this growing problem took place in 2000, when an alliance of 53 environmental advocacy groups appealed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address cruise ship discharges through regulatory action. The petition requested an investigation into wastewater, oil, and solid waste that was being emitted from cruise ships. In response, the EPA released a long-overdue assessment of discharges from cruise ships in December 2008. This report contained a 162-page summary of recent data collection activities. It examines the five prominent cruise ship waste streams (sewage, graywater, oily bilge water, solid waste, and hazardous waste) and discusses the nature and volume of the waste stream discharge, applicable federal regulations, environmental management (including treatment), potential adverse environmental impacts, and actions by the federal government to address the discharges, while incorporating a range of options and alternatives to regulate cruise industry waste streams.

With this, a new debate has begun to emerge in the United States, concentrating on the need for strict adjustments to the current legal and regulatory structure governing waste disposal practices of the cruise line industry. Until the recent attention given to the industry by the EPA, the environmental impacts of the growing cruise industry had gone unchecked, with proposed legislation failing to look beyond taxation and labor issues. Concerned citizens, environmental groups, federal agencies and legislators have begun to recognize the depth and scope of pollution from the cruise line industry and how much harm is being done to our environment. However, it may be a matter of Atoo little, too late, with regulations still lacking focus and consequences to deter the cruise industry.

-Timothy Nalepka, Legal Intern

What's that Smell?....

As you drive down Interstate 95 through Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, the smell of paper pulp mills often fills the air. While this brings back nostalgia of trips up and down the eastern seaboard as a child, the adult in me now wonders the current state of regulation against such industries.

I found the most recent answer to begin in April 2010, when the EPA proposed new rules in an attempt to reduce air pollutants such as mercury and dioxin that are emitted from paper pulp mills, refineries and chemical and manufacturing plants. Under the proposed EPA regulations, existing industrial boilers that fail to bring their facilities up to “Maximum Achievable Control Technology” would have to be upgraded or even replaced. This drew immediate concern from industry groups, who flooded the new regulations with over 4,800 comments, objecting to the cost burden imposed upon them and claiming that is was unreasonable. The industry groups vehemently urged the EPA to delay the air emissions regulations for industrial boilers so that they could further analyze the cost burden and impact on the economy that may result from these new restrictions.

In the wake of this opposition, the EPA responded by reconsidering the standards proposed in the initial regulations. At the time, the American Chemistry Council President, Cal Dooley, stated that, “[the] EPA is reconsidering major portions of these rules, and businesses should not be asked to comply until final requirements are clear, otherwise, businesses would be forced to unecessarily spend millions, if not billions, to comply with rules that may change.” Thus, industry was spared for the moment, and seemed to have one of the largest agencies in the land in their pocket.

On February 21, 2011, the EPA responded by presenting revisions that would cost the industries 50% less to implement, while also estimating that for every dollar spent to cut these pollutants, the public will see $10 to $24 in health benefits. It seemed like a win-win situation, with little room for complaining on behalf of industry. Recently, however, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers began spearheading a campaign with industry groups to request that the EPA once again suspend the new rules limiting emissions from boilers for the same reasons. Now, I ask, who was being unreasonable? I suppose industry would simply prefer the EPA to turn the other cheek and ignore their activities.

The industry seems optimistic that they can further influence the EPA to continue to alter its position. “We expect there will be significantly different final rules,” stated Alicia Meads, director of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “It’s very counterproductive for these facilities to be installing new pollution control devices that they may not have to,” according to Meads. Delay is the friend of industry.

Overall, these regulations are aimed at cutting toxic air emissions such as mercury and soot. Additionally, the EPA has projected that the rules will create 2,200 jobs in excluding, making or installing new pollution controls. Finally, the reduced emissions will prevent 2,600 to 6,600 premature deaths, according to the agency. There doesn’t seem much to complain about within the contents.

Unfortunately, I suppose industry wants to see if it can get more of a financial break, allowing more premature deaths while saving a few bucks.

-Timothy Nalepka, Legal Intern

Make Money, by Buying a Tree and Planting it.....

April 29, 2011, was Arbor Day, so thank a tree and plant one.

You’re breathing oxygen, right? Well, trees produce oxygen. They are your friend. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 acre of trees produces 4 tons of oxygen annually. That's enough oxygen to keep 18 people alive for one full year. If breathing wasn’t enough for you, how about the fact that buying and planting a tree will save you money!

For instance, "[p]lanting trees on the west and east sides of your house can reduce air-conditioning costs by as much as 20%," asserts Lorna Vogt, manager of One Million Trees for One Million People, a Salt Lake County, Utah, agency who is endeavoring to plant 1 million trees in 10 years. Additionally, in cooler climates, evergreens can create windbreaks, which can cut heating bills by as much as 30%, claims Vogt.

Now hold on. I know you are excited to get keep breathing and start saving cash, but it is important to remember that “proper tree care starts when you select a tree and that what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its life span.” At the suggestion of the Arbor Day Foundation (, a nonprofit conservation and education organization, you should follow a few simple steps to ensure your tree gets off on the right foot and keep it healthy throughout its life. Follow the links for more information...

1. Find a Tree
2. Selecting a Healthy Tree
3. Tree Planting
4. The Importance of Mulch
5. Tree Watering
6. When to Prune
7. Keys to Good Tree Pruning
8. Annual Tree Pruning Steps from Planting to Maturity
9. How to Identify Pest and Disease Problems

So, run out to your local nursery and transplant a sapling today. The life you save may just be your own!!

-Timothy Nalepka, Legal Intern

States, Power Plants and EPA – Oh My!

The hotly contested global warming case before the Supreme Court this week puts States and environmental groups up against industry. In American Electric Co. v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court must decided if the States can use public nuisance laws in order for a district court to set limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the top 5 greenhouse gas producing power plants in the United States. The power plants argued the complexities involved in setting such limits pointed to why the EPA should be responsible for setting emissions and not the court.

Are you asking yourself, “Then where is the EPA in all of this?” Well, in 2007 the Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549. U.S. 497, ruled the EPA had the authority
under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. At this time, the EPA has not set limits on carbon dioxide emissions from stationary sources like the power plants. The EPA, however, has begun the initial process of formulating regulations and enacting a rule, though the process takes a long time to complete. The EPA is not expected to issue power plant emission limits anytime before 2012. If the EPA did set emission limits for stationary sources such as the power plants it would displace the federal common public nuisance law and make the States’ case moot. This would mean the States would not be able to bring the claim under the federal common law.

In considering the EPA’s involvement, Justice Ginsburg was skeptical on whether the Court should ignore the EPA’s “first steps” towards regulations and have the judiciary set what might be conflicting limits. The States’ attorney, Barbara Underwood, responded to Justice Ginsburg’s inquiry that the Supreme Court should not conclude “promises” of federal regulations on carbon emissions in fact displace the federal common law. The Justices determined they would look at if the EPA regulations were imminent.

Despite the Justices conclusion, Underwood’s response may not be unwarranted. Underwood said there were a number of things that could delay and setback the EPA from fulfilling the promised regulation. One possible delay to the “promises” of federal regulation could be a shift in political power in Congress or the White House. In fact, at the beginning of April Senate Democrats barely defeated a Republican-backed bill that would prevent the EPA from “taking any action on climate change.”

Since the 2007 EPA case, which had a 5-4 ruling, two new justices have joined the Court. One of the new justices, Sonia Sotomayor, has recused herself because she served on the Second Circuit when it heard the case in 2009.
Speaking on the global warming case now before the Supreme Court, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the coalition of states and land trusts “took this action because we cannot stand idly by while carbon dioxide continues to be emitted without any controls.” Soon Mr. Jepsen, along with the rest of the country, will know where the Supreme Court stands.

-Ashley Harvey, Legal Intern

Supreme Court Hears Global Warming Case – American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut.

The Supreme Court heard the first set of oral arguments this past Tuesday in the controversial global warming case involving a coalition of states, New York City, and three environmental land trusts (States) against 5 coal-burning power plants. This is the Supreme Court’s only environmental case this term. The central issue in the case is whether the plaintiffs can use public nuisance laws to force the power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. The power plants emit 650 million tons of greenhouse gases per year making them the top emitters in the country and a significant contributor to global warming. The States argued they should be able to use the federal common public nuisance law to seek the reductions and protect their citizens and lands from injuries caused as a result of global warming. The States’ alleged injuries include heat related deaths, increased smog, sea level rise, and destruction of wildlife habitat. The power companies argued the States could not directly trace their injuries to the power plants and further that the States’ desired remedy would not curb the global climate change problem.

The States want the power plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 3% for the next ten years. New York Solicitor General and Supreme Court advocate veteran, Barbara Underwood, argued on behalf of the States that the reductions were feasible and would not pass increased electricity costs onto consumers, which the power plants disputed. During her oral argument on the feasibility of reductions, Underwood paused after saying. “That may seem …” and Justice Scalia interjected with, “Implausible is the word you are looking for.”

Indeed the States are up against a skeptical Supreme Court. The justices questioned whether the case would open a floodgate to subsequent litigation against other energy producers. The justices also seemed to doubt whether a district court judge, without expertise or necessarily the resources to set emission standards for the plants, would be acting as a “Super-EPA” in formulating a decision. As part of deciding the case, a district court judge would have to balance the competing interests of impacts on jobs and energy costs against the benefits of public health and reduced environmental damage.

Initially, the States brought the public nuisance case in district court where it was dismissed. The district court ruled the States lacked standing because the case involved policy questions that the court determined were best decided by the executive and legislative branches of government and not the judiciary. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009 overturned the district court’s decision and held the plaintiffs did have standing because public nuisance cases, as part of well-settled torts law, do not involve political questions.

Interestingly, Obama Administration Solicitor General, Neal Katyal has joined the side of the power companies because the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority is named in the dispute. Katyal’s presence has disappointed environmental advocates particularly because the Supreme Court traditionally gives deference to the Solicitor General’s view. The deference given to the Solicitor General’s position has made some believe the Supreme Court will reverse the Second Circuit’s decision and rule against the States.

As of now, it is unclear which way the Supreme Court will decide. What is clear is that this will be a landmark case both for the States and the power companies.

-Ashley Harvey, Legal Intern

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Future of Florida's Growth (Mis)Managment?

For those interested in Florida's growth management, and considering our current trends we all should be, you need to keep an eye on House Bill 7207.

The following is from our friends at 1000 Friends of Florida, please visit their webpage for even more information.

Some of the most damaging provisions of HB 7207:

HB 7207 significantly speeds up the review process for local comprehensive plans. While growth management advocates supported the concept as described in SB 1122, that bill included a trade-off that gave citizens a reasonable chance to succeed in legal challenges. This standard did not survive in HB 7207, which also removes the ability of the new Division of Community Development (“DCD”) to intervene in these challenges, even when key state resources are at stake.

By eliminating Rule 9J-5, HB 7207 removes a quarter century of legal decisions supporting the rights of communities to address sprawl, urban service boundaries, and other key planning issues. The elimination of Rule 9J-5 also eradicates numerous rulings upholding the rights of citizens to participate meaningfully in their local planning process.

The new legislation also makes it more difficult for citizens to keep up with changes to their local plans. Under previous law, plan amendments were limited to twice a year. Now the local plans can be amended at any time, the new DCD is not required to comment on the amendments, and the amendments go into effect 31 days later unless challenged.

HB 7207 significantly reduces the home rule ability of local governments. It removes their right to require referenda and/or a supermajority vote on key planning issues.

In a state where one in five homes is vacant, HB 7207 removes requirements that developers show the need for new development or that the new development is financially feasible. In an era of rising gas prices, it removes requirements that new development be energy efficient.

HB 7207 also makes it easier for large-scale development to be approved without careful scrutiny. The new process allows for but does not require DCD review or comments for Sector Plans, Rural Land Stewardship Areas, Areas of Critical State Concern, EAR-based amendments, or plans for new communities. If DCA does choose to review these plans, it has only 45 days to comment, no matter the size of the development or community in question.

The legislation also makes substantive changes to a number of these programs. For example, it gives a four-year extension for DRIs, and exempts mining, industrial, hotel/motel and movie theater categories. It also no longer requires DCA approval to establish a Rural Land Stewardship Area.

Some recent media coverage on this issue: -- Florida Loses Its Mind. Again, May 9, 2011
-St. Augustine Record -- Growth bill set to become law, May 8, 2011
-South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- New growth rules could have big impact in South Florida, May 8, 2011.
-Florida Tribune -- Florida's growth management laws overhauled, May 6, 2011
-Miami Herald -- Passage of growth management bill angers environmentalists, May 6, 2011Sarasota Herald-Tribune -- Growth rules rollback goes to Scott, May 6, 2011

-Andrew Miller, Executive Director

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rain Rain...Don't Go Away

Living in Florida, it is hard to believe that we are under a water shortage, as it seems that everywhere you look there is a waterway of some sort. However, in order to supply water to more than 90 percent of its booming population, as well as keep its golf courses and residential lawns green, Florida relies on groundwater that is extracted from permeable aquifers underground. Unfortunately the harsh reality is that "Florida's groundwater has been over allocated — not just in South Florida, but all over the state," asserts Cynthia Barnett, author of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern United States. "In addition, we just haven't taken conservation as seriously as other parts of the country," says Barnett, with Floridians pumping groundwater out of our aquifers faster than the state's ample rainfall can refill them. Ultimately, while solutions to quenching the water needs of an increasing human population in Florida are quite difficult, there are simple solutions to meeting the needs of our own front yards, golf courses and the like, which can make a difference. One of these is the rain barrel.

Rain barrels, sometimes referred to as cisterns, are on-site rainwater collection systems by which rainwater can be collected as a valuable resource to irrigate lawns and landscaped areas, while also reducing storm water management costs by easing stress on the public water system and local water supplies. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, for every inch of rain received, about 600 gallons of water can drain from every 1,000-square-foot roof area and into the environment.

In considering irrigation advantages, rainwater is thought to improve the health of your landscaping, lawn and trees, since rainwater is naturally “soft” and devoid of minerals, chlorine and other chemicals found in tap water. However, on the down side, the water pressure will be less than from your outdoor spigot, so a small pump may need to be attached to increase the flow pressure. Furthermore, the general practice is to avoid using the rain barrel water on vegetables and other edible plants, such as herbs for cooking, since roofs may leach pollutants and bacteria that are collected there.

Despite a few shortcomings, another significantly beneficial use of rain barrels is that they may reduce peak volume and velocity of stormwater runoff that reaches our waterways. In most all U.S. communities, rainwater flows over impervious, man-made surfaces such as house roofs and paved roads instead of more natural areas such as forests or grasslands. As a result, when massive Floridian rainstorms dump exponential amounts of water, our sewer systems which carry human and industrial waste become susceptible to overflows and backups creating risks to environmental and human health.

Thus, with growing urbanization in water-scarce areas, including Florida, the increasing water demands for domestic, industrial, commercial, and agricultural purposes exacerbates the situation. While it may seem like a small step, rain barrels can make a huge impact on the environment and our water consumption as a human population at a low personal cost.

-Timothy Nalepka, Legal Intern

Sustainable Agriculture – The Future of Food?

So what does sustainable agriculture really mean? Well, it is defined as an “integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long term,” among other things, “enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends…make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources…[and] enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.” This might seem like a lot to take in, but it is not. Stated in a different way, the University of California Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education Program summarizes sustainable agriculture as a meeting of the needs of today without limiting the ability of future generations to meet its needs.

Sustainable agriculture in practice involves responsible management of both natural and human resources. The human resources aspect of responsible management considers the social impacts in the present and future such as consumer health and safety, the conditions for labor workers, and rural community needs. The natural resources aspect involves farming practices that maintain land resources for the long term.

There are groups that promote the use of sustainable agricultural methods to transform our nation’s food system. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is a collection of grassroots organizations with a 20-year history. NACS advocates for federal policy reform in order to promote the use of sustainable agriculture and the protection of natural resources and rural communities. The group also works to support research, education, and development of new markets and businesses. NSAC’s goal is to create a food system that is affordable, produced by sustainable agricultural methods, and harvested by local family farmers who receive a fair wage.

Slow Food USA (Slow Food) is another example of a grassroots movement that promotes sustainable agriculture. Its motto is “Good, Clean, and Fair Food.” One of Slow Food’s goals is to “strengthen the connection between the food on our plates and the health of our planet.” Slow Food has 200 chapters across the US. The group is involved with advocacy and public outreach including “identifying, promoting and protecting fruits, vegetables, grains, animal breeds, wild foods, and cooking traditions at risk of disappearance.”

Last week Slow Food and NSAC joined efforts to campaign in Washington D.C. on behalf of sustainable agriculture programs at risk of being cut. Erin Swenson-Klatt, from Slow Food, spoke with congressional representatives to convey the message that sustainable programs “are efficient and effective both at offering greater resources to innovative farmers and at revitalizing rural communities.”

Being a member in organizations like Slow Food and NACS is not the only way to have a say in how our food system works. As a consumer, you have the choice and the power to make an impact that can be felt locally as well as globally. One of the ways to do this is by purchasing your food from local farms and markets. One website that can connect you with grass-fed food is One of the farms featured on the eatwild site is Ashlin Farms. Located in Jacksonville, Ashlin Farms sells only grass-fed, free-range beef. Another great local resource is the Beaches Local Food Network. The group hosts a farmers market every Saturday in Neptune Beach called the Beaches Green Market. By supporting these types of initiatives you are promoting the stewardship of natural and human resources, the goal of sustainable agriculture.

-Ashley Harvey, Legal Intern

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Watch a Kite Fly....But Perhaps Not For Long

Swooping low and silent over Lake Okeechobee is the Everglade Snail Kite (Kite), preparing to select an apple snail from a water lily in its critical habitat. Lake Okeechobee is home to the endangered Kite, despite the fact that from the year 2000 until the present, the freshwater wetland has experienced extreme weather patterns and been subjected to new water management protocols which have created record low water levels for record lengths of time at increased frequencies. Lake Okeechobee now rarely provides suitable habitat for Kite nesting, or even foraging for that matter, causing the Kite population in Florida to decline from about 3000 individuals in the year 2000 to less than 700 today. “Who cares?,” you may ask.

Well, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), touted as providing a “framework to restore, protect and preserve the water resources of central and southern Florida,” seems to think it is important. You see, CERP, a partnership comprised of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), has more than 50 performance measures used to assess success in water management for the human population. Only three of these measures rank as “Total System-wide Performance Measures,” and the success of the Everglade Snail Kite is one of them due to its reliance on a properly functioning Everglades ecosystem. Thus, achieving Kite persistence is expected to demonstrate system-wide sustainable restoration, resulting in confidence that needs can be met for the human population.

However, in the month of March 2011, according to the South Florida Water Management District, “the region has received only 47 percent of its historic average rainfall through March 22, or 0.95 inches for a deficit of 1.18 inches,” which “follows the driest October-to-February period in 80 years and a dry season deficit that has reached 7.62 inches as of March 22, 2011.” This is concerning when on considers that “The Big O” is not only the seventh largest freshwater lake in the United States, but also South Florida's backup water supply which is relied upon to replenish drinking water supplies for some communities and tapped for irrigation by sugar cane growers and other farmers. Furthermore, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, Florida's human population will grow by about 12 million people between 2000 and 2030.

So, it seems to follow, if we don’t protect the lake’s traditional water level with higher restrictions and increased conservation, then the federally endangered Everglade Snail Kite (Kite) could be in serious trouble. And where the Kite goes, so may we.

-Tim Nalepka, Legal Intern

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 World Water Day Hosted in Cape Town, South Africa

World Water Day is held on March 22 of every year. The theme this year was “Water for cities: responding to the urban water challenge.” The event consisted of a three-day exhibition and fair held by South Africa’s government.

According to UN’s Rapid Response Assessment Report for World Water Day, Africa is the “fastest urbanizing continent on the planet.” African cities are growing at the fastest rate out of anywhere in the world and as a result of this growth straining the water supplies and compromising sanitation services. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat, “Green Hills, Blue Cities” conducted concluded that out of Africa’s one billion people living in urban areas, 40% do not have an adequate supply of water or sanitation services. The statistics show that the number of urban residents without safe drinking water increased from 30 million in 1990 to 55 million in 2008. During that same time span, the number of citizens without reasonable sanitation services doubled to 175 million. The executive director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos, said the goal must be to “improve our urban planning and management in order to provide universal access to water and basic services while ensuring our cities become more resilient to the increasing effects of climate change.” Cities in South Africa are believed to face future crises of drought and water shortage due to climate change. There are also concerns over South Africa’s solid waste management and crop irrigation. One example is in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. The city has increased from 100,000 to 3.5 million in the last 50 years. The UN report finds that only five percent of the collected solid waste in Addis Ababa is recycled. The other 95% is mostly left in piles on the ground often near streams and bridges where the trash then makes its way into rivers. Another alarming finding by the report was that 60% of Addis Ababa urban farmers use wastewater to irrigate their crops. This has raised the concern of food poisoning. There are also infrastructure problems. In Kenya’s largest slum, Kibera, 40% of the 20,000 cubic meters of water a day it receives is lost due to leakage or rundown infrastructure.

UNEP’s executive director, Adam Steiner, says these types of concerns are what need to be addressed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. This conference, known as Rio+20, is seen as momentous because it comes 20 years after the conference which “set the environmental agenda for the world”, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio+20 will focus on green economy, particularly sustainable development and poverty eradication. Mr. Steiner said there is increasing evidence from the green economy indicating, “that a different path in terms of water and sanitation can begin to be realized.”

Recommendations by the report call not for the building of costly water purification systems, but for the protection of watersheds and forests. The report finds, “Cities must reduce water consumption and recycle wastewater inside cities, restore adjacent watersheds and improve engineering solutions to supply water from well-managed ecosystems.” The World will be watching.

-Ashley Harvey, Legal Intern

Friday, March 11, 2011

There are no Mulligans for Florida's Special Places

Theodore Roosevelt once said, "I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us." Constructing at least five more golf courses in the State of Florida, as proposed by Sen. John Thrasher, R-Saint Augustine, and Rep. Patrick Rooney, R-West Palm Beach, would rob future generations of enjoying the beauty of our many special places in Florida through wasteful development in a State that already boasts nearly 1,300 choices for golfers.

The legislation proposed by Thrasher and Rooney, Senate Bill 1846 and companion House Bill 1239, calls for the construction of an 18-hole or more public golf course in the parks of all five regions of Florida, and requires such construction to be "free from unnecessarily burdensome requirements." The goal: "to stimulate the growth of tourism and the state economy by enhancing the state's reputation as a premier golfing destination and encouraging the location of public golf facilities within Florida's existing state parks." This idea was presented by former professional golfer and course designer, Jack Nicklaus, to Gov. Rick Scott in a private meeting last month to brainstorm ways to improve a struggling Floridian economy. Interestingly, the bill has come to be known as the “Jack Nicklaus Golf Trail of Florida Act,” as Nicklaus will be paid a reported $625,000 to design each course, a quarter of his usual fee. I suppose that is one job that the State can claim to have created if it goes through with the bill, but the only winning economy in that scenario is Jack Nicklaus’ personal economy. The jobs created by this are temporary at best, mostly construction related, and with the number of rounds played on the First Coast down by 9.6 percent last year and dozens of courses being forced to close due to financial loss over the last five years, this hardly seems like the economic stimulus that will carry us through tough times.

Forgive me if I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that Florida, while it does boast fantastic golf, is better known for its white sandy beaches, lush semi-tropical forests, cultural sites and crystal clear springs, lakes and rivers. Don’t get me wrong, I frequently enjoy playing the game of golf and attend The Players Championship annually. However, golfers are already catered to with nearly 1,300 golf courses in the State, while there are few options for those on a budget who are seeking affordable, family-friendly activities, such as swimming, hiking, bicycling, paddling, diving, fishing, camping, horseback riding, birding, and photography, that our 160 designated State Parks have to offer.

Thus far, only Jonathan Dickinson State Park has been named in the bill. The park has 13 natural communities, including sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves, and river swamps, cut by the Loxahatchee River, which is Florida's first federally designated Wild and Scenic River. If the legislation goes through, then at least 200 acres of the park will be taken for the golf industry, moving Nicklaus one step closer to achieving his ultimate goal of hosting a U.S. Open at one of his designed courses.

Sadly, this proposal flies in the face of the Florida Park Service’s goal “to help create a sense of place by showing park visitors the best of Florida's diverse natural and cultural sites. Florida's state parks are managed and preserved for enjoyment by this and future generations through providing appropriate resource-based recreational opportunities, interpretation and education that help visitors connect to ...the Real Florida.” Once the “Real Florida” disappears, there will be no mulligans.

-Timothy Nalepka, Legal Intern