Audubon Florida releases 2014 legislative agenda

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Audubon Florida released its official legislative agenda today for the upcoming annual 60-day Legislature session beginning Tuesday, March 4.

“Florida’s water, wildlife, and special places deserve to be protected,” said Audubon Florida’s Legislative Director Mary Jean Yon. “Our environment is directly linked to our economy and quality of life. The 2014 Legislative Session is a great opportunity for legislators to stand up for natural Florida.”

Audubon plans to focus on a number of geographic areas across the state, including the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, which encompasses Lake Okeechobee, Indian River Lagoon, and the Caloosahatchee Estuary.

Top legislative matters under the Audubon Florida Water Policy promoting springs legislation to reduce nutrient pollution, including runoff from septic tanks, as well as opposing SB 1160, which allows open land disposal of septic waste.

The group also is looking to stop HB 7003, a proposal extending the permits for water use projects to as much as 30 years, other water storage projects to up to 50 years, and pre-empts local government rules for protecting wetlands.

As for land conservation, Audubon will push for $100 million for authorized Florida Forever conservation projects and $25 million for Rural and Family Lands Protection Act, established in 2001 to preserve agricultural land. They also recommend limiting the disposal of “surplus” public lands and the incompatible uses of conservation lands, such as for oil and gas drilling.

Climate change and sea level rise are on the list as Audubon pushes for funding to prevent water habitat loss, in addition to opposing oil and natural gas fracking proposals, as well as any offshore oil drilling.

Two bills are also on Audubon’s radar — HB 71 and HB 157 — that prevent full disclosure of fracking chemicals used by labeling them “trade secrets.”

The full 2014 legislative agenda is online at Fl.Audubon.org.

Floridians can stay informed on upcoming environmental issues in the Florida Capitol by signing up for the Audubon Weekly Advocate eNewsletter.  

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.