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Bruce Ritchie - page 4

Bruce Ritchie has 127 articles published.

Adam Putnam says despite criticism, water bill makes ‘tremendous progress’ for springs

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Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Tuesday the 2015 legislative session is going well from a policy standpoint including a water bill his department is supporting. SB 918/HB 7003 eliminate a Lake Okeechobee pollution permitting program, set deadlines for establishing minimum flow levels for springs, requires review of springs cleanup plans and places a Central Florida water supply planning initiative in state law. Environmentalists and newspaper editorial writers have criticized the bill as being business- and agriculture-friendly without providing an enforceable plan for cleaning up springs.…

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Offshore oil drilling has been off the table in Florida since 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 likely shut the door politically on oil drilling in Florida waters, a Florida State University oceanography professor said Monday on the five-year anniversary of the spill. In April 2010, a Florida House committee led by future House Speaker Dean Cannon was considering draft legislation to allow drilling in state waters 10.6 miles off the Gulf Coast. But the Senate said it wouldn’t take up a bill. Then the Deepwater Horizon explosion 42 miles off…

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Springs bill in Senate disappoints some environmentalists

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Last year a comprehensive water bill that passed the Senate included a major focus on Florida’s springs and reducing threats from groundwater pollution and over-pumping. Florida’s springs during the past 30 years have turned green with algae because of nitrogen in groundwater from various sources including septic tanks, fertilizer and sewage treatment plants. Fixing the problems cost lots of money, and preventing further pollution requires regulations that are unpopular with rural landowners. The 2014 Senate bill, SB 1576, established springs…

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Jack Latvala warns against opposing his nuke plant financing bill

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Sen. Jack Latvala on Thursday cautioned against any elected state official opposing his bill that would allow Duke Energy Florida to issue bonds for closing its Crystal River nuclear plant. His warning came after a vote on the House version was delayed this week. Duke says the plant closing cost is $1.4 billion. Latvala said his legislation, SB 288, would save customers $600 million over 20 years by allowing the company to sell bonds. Latvala told a Senate committee meeting…

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State lands bill passes House but Dems’ leader says it’s a bad deal

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A bill that would allow the Cabinet to give away state parks and other conservation lands to neighboring agricultural landowners passed the House with opposition from some Democrats. Environmentalists oppose HB 7135 although they said it had been improved in earlier committee stops by requiring proposed giveaways to be reviewed by the Acquisition and Restoration Council. The bill also requires managers of parks and other state lands to review property for disposal or use for “low impact” agriculture. Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Republican…

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Work being done on Amendment 1, water projects spending, Sen. Tom Lee says

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There has been no action publicly in the Legislature this week on Amendment 1 spending or bills dealing with water policy but those issues are being worked on, Sen. Tom Lee, the Senate’s chief budget writer, said Wednesday. Amendment 1 is the water and land conservation funding initiative approved by voters in November. The measure is expected to provide almost $740 million a year for programs in the 2014-15 state budget. With the House and Senate at a budget impasse over Medicaid…

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DEP’s Jon Steverson repeats ‘climate change’ phrase at confirmation hearing

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Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson said “climate change” three times during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday in response to a senator’s question about whether there is a department policy against using the phrase. Steverson was responding to state Sen. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Kissimmee who was wearing a climate change button on his lapel, about news reports that there is such an unwritten policy. “I, for one, can read your pin from here so — climate change, climate change, climate change,”…

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