Natural Resources and the Environment
The League of Women Voters of Florida supports state legislation for energy conservation and greater use of renewable sources such as solar energy. The League supports public policies that promote conservation of freshwater and its availability for environmental, public, agricultural, industrial and mining uses on a priority basis. The League also supports legislation to ban oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast as well as funding for public transportation.
League Endorses Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment
The League of Women Voters of Florida has endorsed a proposed amendment to Florida’s constitution that would protect hundreds of thousands of acres of land needed to ensure the state’s clean water supply and wildlife habitat for generations to come.
The amendment would dedicate one-third of existing documentary stamp tax, which is paid when real estate is sold, to restore the Everglades, protect drinking water sources, and revive the state’s historic commitment to protecting natural lands and wildlife through the Florida Forever Program. The amendment would provide more than $5 billion for water and land conservation in Florida over the next 10 years without any tax increase. It would take effect in 2015 and expire in 2035.
At least 683,000 petitions signed and verified by the supervisors of elections are needed to get the Water and Land legacy proposal on the ballot in 2014.
For more information on the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, please click here for a one-page document on the issue.
Please click here for a presentation with further information on the amendment and campaign.
Listen to FWLL Field Director Aliki Moncrief discuss the campaign with CMF Public Media!
More Information on League Positions on the Environment
A bill that would have allowed offshore drilling for oil in Florida’s waters was shelved during the 2010 legislative session; this happened after the BP oil disaster occurred in Louisiana. The League has opposed offshore drilling, as well as drilling in the Everglades. One of the environmental groups in Florida is circulating petitions for a permanent ban on oil drilling in Florida waters between the mean high tide line and the outermost boundaries of the Florida territorial seas.
During the 2008 session, Senate Bill 360 was passed; the bill eased concurrency requirements for developers relating to schools and roads. The League opposed this bill and asked the governor to veto it. However, the bill was signed by the governor and became law. In October 2009, Department of Community Affairs Secretary Tom Pelham told senators that SB 360 did not supersede the comprehensive plan already in place in a community, and the relaxing of concurrency rules would not necessarily apply. The first reaction of the committee was to write a new bill that would effectively do away with concurrency in the areas affected by the legislation. Over a dozen municipalities sued, and SB 360 was thrown out of circuit court because it would place unfunded mandates on communities. It may be appealed, although the sponsor of the legislation said that he would prefer to rewrite the bill so that it would not be prone to lawsuits.
During the 2010 session, the Legislature did not reauthorize funding for the Department of Community Affairs when it came up for renewal during this year’s session. The Department was conceived by Governor Bob Graham in 1985, a response to the unbridled growth and sprawl taking place in Florida. The future of the department is unknown at this time, althouhg a majority of its power was stripped by Governor Rick Scott. The “Hometown Democracy” amendment that would require local governments to allow voter participation in changes to comprehensive plans was defeated in the November 2010 election.
In the 2009 session, SB 2080 was passed; it eliminated public input to water management district governing boards. The public no longer could express concerns about environmental resource and consumptive use permit decisions. The governor signed it into law.
On February 18, 2014, League of Women Voters of Florida President Deirdre Macnab sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, regarding the proposed conversion of 200 acres of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for use as a private commercial spaceport. Destruction of the 200 acres would be detrimental to the Indian River Lagoon, a precious ecosystem that is already facing a myriad of pollution issues from other sources.
The FAA is petitioning to use the land to create a new rocket launch pad and facility, and they are being met with resistance from the League and many other organizations.
To read LWVF President Macnab’s letter to the FAA in full, please click here.
For more information about offshore drilling in Florida, review the League’s white paper “LWVF Seeks Answers to New Questions on Near Shore Oil Drilling in Florida” by League member Rebecca Sager.
Also check out LWVF President Deirdre Macnab’s op-ed in the The Tampa Bay Times “Florida Needs an All-Out Effort for Renewable Energy.”
For information about the Urban Heat Island effect and cooling cities using concrete, check out the League’s Cool Cities PowerPoint presentation.
To find the League’s positions and talking points on environmental bills this past session, please click here.