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The Surfrider Foundation is working hard to promote positive change through legislation in the Florida House and Senate. Here are some of the important issues that we’re working on in the 2017 Legislative Session. Want to learn more? Contact us to find out how you can get involved!
Disposable Bags- Allow coastal municipalities with populations under 100,000 to create a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable plastic bags.
- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine littler.
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- In 2009, about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks, and wraps” were generated in the U.S., but only 9.4% of this was recycled.
- Approximately thirty municipalities have passed resolutions requesting the home rule authority to regulate single-use plastics bags locally.
- Support HB93/S162
Fund Florida Healthy Beaches Program- Restore funding to monitor beaches for dangerous bacteria and water pollution.
- The program samples for fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, which are bacterial indicators of poor water quality.
- Exposure to contaminated water can lead to gastroenteritis, respiratory illness, rashes, eye and ear ailments, and more.
- State funds were cut in 2011 and never restored. Now, Florida relies on federal funding for the program.
- Fund the Florida Healthy Beaches Program to protect human health and our coastal economy.
- Appropriate $525,000 to the Florida Department of Health expressly for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program.
Stop Lake Okeechobee Discharges- Purchase land to allow for adequate water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, restore flows to the Everglades and Florida Bay, and stop discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries.
- The impacted estuaries rely on a delicate mix of salt and fresh water to sustain sea grass, oyster beds, and a multitude of species that inhabit their waters.
- Inundated by releases of polluted freshwater, the estuaries have suffered tremendous damage. Toxic algal blooms have suffocated over 30,000 acres of seagrass, threatened human health, and killed countless seabirds, manatees, and dolphins.
- Skin contact with cyanotoxins can cause irritation of the skin (rash or skin blisters), eyes, nose and throat, and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Swallowing water containing high concentrations can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Effects on the liver and nervous system of animals and people have also been documented in severe cases.
- At the southern end of the state, the lack of freshwater has caused a “near catastrophic” seagrass die off due to hyper salinity.
- Support Senator Negron’s proposal to acquire 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee.
Adaptation Planning– Promote policies that help Florida incorporate adaptation and resiliency planning into all beach and coastal programs.
- Florida is the most at-risk state for sea-level rise, yet there is no reference to these issues in any of the state’s coastal development and beach management laws, and there is no statewide plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise to our beaches.
- Three-fourths of Florida’s population resides in coastal counties that generate 79% of the state’s total annual economy.
- A resilient coastline will protect our infrastructure, ecosystems, recreation, and economy for generations to come.
Join the Sierra Club Marine Action Team, Surfrider Foundation, and Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition for a public forum on National Ocean Policy in the Gulf of Mexico. Speakers will discuss oil & gas exploration, seismic testing, fisheries, coastal communities, adaptation and sea level rise, and more! There is no cost and the event will include lunch.
What: Public Forum on Our Ocean’s Future
When: November 4rd, 8:30AM-1:00PM
Where: West St. Petersburg Public Library @ St. Petersburg College
(6605 5th Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33710)
Who: All are welcome!
Note- this event will also include an optional field trip to explore Tampa Bay ecosystems following the forum. When registering, please indicate your interest in attending a field trip. Details to follow.
Online registration has closed. Please contact Holly Parker directly to register: 850-567-3393, email@example.com
Join the Surfrider Foundation on September 17th for International Coastal Cleanup Day! Last year, volunteers across the world cleaned up over 18 million pounds of trash!
The Surfrider Foundation is opposed the the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed Human Health Based Water Quality Criteria. The criteria decreases protection for Florida’s most vulnerable by increasing allowable levels of carcinogens and chemicals in our surface waters.
Take action by contacting the EPA TODAY! Ask the EPA to:
- Please hold multiple hearings and opportunities for public comment across Florida. The proposed revisions to Florida’s Human Health-Based Water Quality Criteria have far reaching impacts, and as such, are deserving of adequate forethought and deliberation.
- Regardless of the risk assessment method utilized, please direct the FDEP to adopt the most stringent criteria for Florida’s human health-based water quality criteria. It is unacceptable that Florida is increasing allowable levels of over two dozen chemicals.
- Please utilize Florida-specific seafood consumption data. Floridians eat large qualities of locally caught seafood- much more than the national average. Utilizing the best available data for fish consumption rates will help protect more Floridians.
- Email the EPA here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Date: The Florida Chapter Conference will be held in St. Petersburg at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, November 4th-6th. Stay tuned for registration details!
What: Surfrider Foundation Florida Chapter Conference
When: Nov. 4th-6th, 2016
Who: All current Surfrider Foundation members!
How: Registration open on ChapterNET August 1st
Congratulations to our April Volunteer of the Month, Marilu Christina Flores! Marilu currently serves as the Treasurer of the Miami Chapter- but does much more than crunch numbers and keep the books! Miami Chapter Chair Jayson Koch writes,
“Since Marilu relocated back to Miami in 2015 from Vermont, she has taken on the Surfrider Miami Treasurer role and overall, has gone above and beyond! Marilu attends all Surfrider events- most of which she was also a key lead in planning and executed advance work and detail. She is a fearless fundraiser and is always eager to ask local businesses for donations or support for the Miami Chapter. In November 2015, Marilu worked with Volcom to give us the Miami premier rights for their Psychic Migrations film, to show at our fall fundraiser event. She always reaches out to get food/drink donations for clean-up events and meetings, and secures the best raffle donations for our fundraiser events.
Lobby Day was quite the interesting and informative experience! I had never been to the Florida capitol before, let alone been lobbying. Myself, and two other UF students were there representing the Surfrider Quad club at the University of Florida, and we were definitely all newcomers to the political arena! After meeting with the other activists for a quick briefing and breakfast at 9am, Holly split us into groups and gave us each a schedule which detailed the meeting times she had previously scheduled with various representatives and senators, as well as other relevant information about the three bills we would be speaking about.
Legislature once again blocking local governments
Saturday, February 13th, 2016
Florida legislators quickly fault the federal government for overreaches, mandates and for just generally being “big government.” Yet last week, without public input or scrutiny, the Florida House of Representatives moved to strip cities and counties of their ability to regulate polystyrene foam foodware. Click here to read the full story.
Last week the Florida House pushed through a last minute amendment to HB7007 (a Department of Agriculture bill) to preempt local polystyrene (aka “styrofoam”) regulations. The bill, including the foam preemption, passed the full House on February 3rd. The polystyrene preemption language has not been filed in the Senate yet, but rest assured that we are working hard to protect home rule, our beaches, and waterways.
We are currently working with legislators to craft a solution to the preemption issue and will share a call to action as soon as there is an opportunity for the public to weigh in. In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your Senator and let them know that you oppose the preemption of local polystyrene ordinances. Click here to find your legislators!
ACTION ALERT: There are a number of very good amendments filed to the bad polystyrene (foam) bill- HB7007! Some of the amendments deal with polystyrene foam foodware and others deal with single-use plastic bags. This bill will be voted on by the full House Tuesday at 4pm- here’s how you can help!
Representative Richardson has filed a critically important amendment on the plastic bag preemption! It gives the Legislature until January 1st, 2017 to adopt rules for the regulation of single-use plastic bags. If the Legislature fails to do so, the preemption would be lifted.
Polystyrene Foam Foodware:
Representative Richardson and Representative Miller have also filed amendments to the proposed ban on local regulation of polystyrene.
- Representative Miller’s amendment (712405) gives local governments until April 2016 to pass any polystyrene ordinances (instead of the original deadline of January 1st, 2016- which has already passed!). Click here to read the amendment.
- Representative Richardson’s amendment (111591) goes even further and extends the deadline for the preemption until January 1st, 2017. Click here to read the amendment.
- Representative Richardson’s other amendment (510403) provides an exemption for coastal communities from the preemption of polystyrene- meaning that any communities that touch the Gulf, Atlantic or a Bay would still be able to regulate or ban polystyrene foam foodware. Click here to read the amendment.
We need you to call your House member ASAP- the vote is Tuesday at 4pm! Click here to find your House member!
- Support ALL of Representative Richardson’s amendments: delay implementation of the polystyrene preemption until January 1st, 2017, provide an exemption of coastal communities, and require the state to make a comprehensive statewide plan to deal with single-use plastic bags.
- Coastal communities are dependent on clean and healthy beaches.
- Because of its lightweight nature, foam containers frequently blow out of trashcans and garbage trucks, where they make their way to storm drains, retention ponds, waterways and our beaches.
- Polystyrene foam foodware is rarely recycled, frequently littered and never biodegrades.
Some communities have been working on foam ordinances for months and are ready to implement those policies. Give them the opportunity to protect their local communities and waterways! For the last six years, the Legislature has failed to take action on the DEP’s
- . Require the Legislature to create a statewide policy to regulate single-use plastic bags, and if the Legislature fails to do so- give that authority back to our local communities!