Millions of Gallons of Wastewater Poured Into Oleta River State Park During Weekend Floods

Categories: Environmental

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Photo by Ebyabe | Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0
Miami-Dade County has placed swimming advisories all around Oleta.
The rains of God came down Saturday. The result was flooded streets, stranded cars, and bone-soaked tourists.

All in all as much as eight inches dropped on parts of Miami-Dade, along with strong winds. If you were caught in Saturday afternoon's downpour, you already know it sucked. Especially if your car got stuck. Or your dog drifted away.

But the rains also claimed another victim: Oleta River State Park, which happened to be inundated by millions of gallons of wastewater.

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Protestors To "Shame" UM Over Walmart Development on Endangered Rocklands

Categories: Environmental

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Save the South Florida Pine Rocklands' Facebook
The latest Pine Rocklands rally will be today at 3 p.m., at the University of Miami main entrance
More than seven months after it was announced that the University of Miami had sold an 88-acre parcel of endangered pine rocklands habitat to a developer set on building a Walmart, the project remains stalled pending environmental certification -- and the blowback continues.

Today at 3 p.m. supporters will gather at the University of Miami's main entrance, on Stanford Drive, to protest UM's sale of the land, to developer Ram Realty Services, for $22 million.

"We speak for the trees and we speak on behalf of all the 200 endangered animals who call this endangered [Pine Rocklands] home," Leslye Jacobs, the rally's organizer, wrote on Save the South Florida Pine Rocklands' Facebook page. "We are their voice and we ask you to join us."

See also: Developer to Submit Habitat Conservation Plan for Controversial Walmart Project

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Sea Level Rise Threatens to Drown Miami Even Faster Than Feared, UM Researcher Finds

Categories: Environmental

Photo by Bill Cooke
A flash flood left South Beach underwater in 2009.
Living in Miami in 2015 and harboring any doubts about sea level rise is roughly equivalent to being a volcano truther in Pompeii circa 79 AD. The catastrophe is happening. The only question is just how quickly climate change will sink parts of South Florida.

The answer, according to new work by a University of Miami researcher: even more quickly than we thought.

See also: Rolling Stone Predicts Miami Will Be Underwater by 2030

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After Rick Scott Pledges $150 Million, Barack Obama Wants $240 Million More for Everglades

Categories: Environmental

Photo by Chris Foster's Flickr | MNT Flickr Pool
Barack Obama and Rick Scott may not have that much in common politically, but both the president's and the governor's recently proposed budgets had one similarity: lots of money for the restoration of the Florida Everglades.

Last month Scott set aside $150 million in his budget for the Everglades as part of a 20-year, $5 billion plan. Now, Obama's newly proposed 2016 budget has earmarked $195 million for the Everglades, a significant increase in federal spending in the wetlands.

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Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Could Be Released in Keys This Spring

Categories: Environmental

Courtesy of Oxitec
Scientists hope to wipe out dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (left) using genetically modified bugs with green-and-red glowing larvae.
In the lab, the genetically modified mosquito larvae glow green and red to help researchers track them. The bugs' DNA has been tweaked with a killer gene that will wipe out the next generation of blood-suckers before they can latch onto humans. Millions of the scientifically created bugs are released into the wild, in theory putting a stop to wretched diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

That may sound like the premise of a Michael Crichton plot, but in fact the GMO mosquitoes have already been released en masse in Brazil and the Cayman Islands. Now, researchers hope to do the same in the Florida Keys as early as this spring.

See also: Can Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Keep Dengue Fever Away From Key West?

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Environmentalists Plan Protest Against Walmart, Theme Park Threatening Endangered Pine Rocklands

Categories: Environmental

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Via Rally for the Rocklands Facebook page
The fight over an endangered patch of native pine rocklands has sparked a planned rally at the site of the two highly controversial development projects -- a proposed Walmart and the theme park Miami Wilds.

"We'll do two for the price of one," says Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, which is organizing the event.

See also: Developer to Submit Habitat Conservation Plan for Controversial Walmart Project

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Florida Paves the Way For Fracking As Miami Senator Files Bill to Ban Practice

Categories: Environmental

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Photo by Joshua Doubek via Wikimedia Commons
A fracking job in North Dakota
Across the country, strong resistance has cropped up against the oil extraction process known as fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Even a single fracking job requires a staggering amount of water, as well as an abundance of toxic chemicals. Some evidence suggests the "fracking fluid" that has to be injected deep into the ground to release natural gas from shale deposits can leak into fragile environments.

But Florida public officials are cool with all that. Yesterday the Florida Public Service Commission, the board that regulates state utilities, voted by a four to one margin to approve Florida Power and Light's request to "explore" for fracking sites as a cheaper alternative to run its power plants -- and pass of the cost of the exploration onto customers.


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Developer to Submit Habitat Conservation Plan for Controversial Walmart Project

Categories: Environmental

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Photo via ramrealestate.com
A projection of Coral Reef Commons.
The developers aren't giving up yet.

Earlier this week, Ram Realty Services, the West Palm Beach-based developer behind the proposed Coral Reef Commons project -- highly controversial because it would develop critically endangered pine rockland habitat -- met with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) officials and agreed to submit a habitat conservation plan in conjunction with a special permit application. Both the permit and conservation plan need to be approved by the federal agency before the project can proceed.

"We intend to fully cooperate with the agencies involved, and we look forward to reaching an amicable agreement and showcasing how Ram balances its commitment to the environment with its dedication to creating high-quality communities," Peter Cummings, the company's chairman, said in a news release provided to Riptide.

See also: Thousands Sign Petitions Against Walmart Development on Endangered Pine Rockland

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Anthony Alfieri: Clean-Up Man

Categories: Environmental

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Photo by Stian Roenning
Anthony Alfieri's legacy in Miami is uncovering the mess of Old Smokey in the Grove and beyond.
In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

After 45 years of poisoning the mostly black residents of West Coconut Grove, the incinerator Old Smokey was finally shut down in 1970. But tons of toxic ash remained, buried in parks, swales, and open fields. It may well have caused an epidemic of pancreatic cancer that still afflicts the area.

The City of Miami discovered the problem several years ago but buried the information.
Who uncovered it? An environmental justice project that is the brainchild of Tony Alfieri, a full-time University of Miami professor and part-time rabble-rouser.


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Jeff Ransom: Ancient-History Preservationist

Categories: Environmental

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Photo by Stian Roenning
Jeff Ransom can be found around the county surveying the land, looking for Miami-Dade's archaeological past.
In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.

When he was a 9-year-old Boy Scout, Jeff Ransom and his fellow troop members got lost in a Venezuelan cave. Flashlights were dying. Kids were crying. Even their adult Eagle Scout leader shed tears. Luckily, the future archaeologist of Miami-Dade County was there to save the day.

"I wasn't scared, and I remembered the way back out, so I got everybody out," Ransom, now 49, recalls as he sits in a 12th-floor conference room at the Stephen P. Clark Center. "I've always felt very comfortable in caves."

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