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SCCF provides Legislative update on Week 2 of the session

By Staff | Mar 20, 2019

Rae Ann Wessel

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s weekly wrap-up on the Legislative session:

– Fracking: Week 2 of the 2019 legislative session saw a flurry of environmental bills pass through Senate Committees including the Agriculture Committee bill SB 7064, which is a partial fracking ban. SCCF opposes any partial ban that does not address all methods of fracking to include hydraulic fracking and matrix acidizing. There are no fracking bills on the committee agenda to be heard next week.

– Florida Forever: The Senate Natural Resources Committee was busy addressing land acquisition funding and nutrient pollution. The most significant action came from Sen. Linda Stewart’s SB 944, which would require the Florida Forever land preservation program be allocated at least $100 million a year through the Amendment 1 Land Acquisition Trust Fund that was overwhelmingly passed by 75 percent of Florida’s voters in 2014. The House Bill equivalent, HB 1341 by Representative Ausley, has not yet been scheduled to be heard in its first House Committee. Funding for the program needs to be committed.

– Wastewater: There were several regional wastewater infrastructure bills passed in the Senate Natural Resources committee, including SB 368 which would allocate $50 million for wastewater treatment plant infrastructure fixes for Indian River Lagoon and SB 1256 which would allocate up to $20 million for projects that would protect and improve water quality in Apalachicola River and Bay. SCCF supports septic-to-sewer conversions and other necessary water quality infrastructure fixes, but not from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The costs of those infrastructure needs greatly exceed the funding allocated for land acquisition.

Rep. Fine has introduced local water quality bill HB 141, which would penalize municipal wastewater plants that spill raw sewage into waterways and provides (non-Land Acquisition Trust Fund) funding for Indian River Lagoon water treatment related projects. A similar bill SB 216 was filed in the Senate. Both bills cite the large-scale cumulative impacts of nutrient pollution and the critical need to address this issue statewide.

Rae Ann Wessel is the natural resources policy director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. For more information about the SCCF, visit www.sccf.org.