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1. Florida legislators' stalemate on study kills fracking ban bill

A bill that would ban fracking in Florida is dead this year, with the state House and Senate unwilling to agree on whether a scientific study is needed before considering an all-out prohibition.

House bill sponsor Rep. Mike Miller, R-Orlando, said he still thinks the state should have some sort of a fracking ban, but the study would ward off lawsuits brought by property owners who feel their rights have been violated. He said House leadership would not let his bill move forward without the study.

“I think there’s a leadership situation where we have concerns about property rights issues and things the Senate sponsor may not agree with,” Miller said.

There is no chance the bill could be revived this session, he said.

Opponents of the bill saw it as an open door for the oil industry to begin fracking in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Everglades.

2. ‘Cowbell’ fire continues in Big Cypress

A fire in Big Cypress that has been named “Cowbell” has grown to at least 400 acres, based on the latest report from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.
In addition, a 26,000-acre blaze code-named “Parliament” that started March 18 is still burning but is almost fully contained.

The Cowbell Fire was discovered Thursday two miles north of Interstate 75 and west of the L-28 Canal Road, the NWCG reported.

“The Cowbell Fire is just one of many wildfires Big Cypress has experienced in recent weeks. The 2017 fire season arrived early with drier than average conditions,” the NWCG reported on its website. “Another new start, the Tru 4 fire located south of I-75 and east of State Road 29, was located on Saturday. It is 50 percent contained and five acres. It is not expected to grow in size. The Parliament Fire is 95 percent contained and being monitored by air resources.”

3. Business Expo is Wednesday

The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business Expo is 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, at the Marco Island Charter Middle School gymnasium, 1404 Trinidad Avenue.

The event will feature more than 40 tables with information from local businesses, nonprofits, clubs and organizations. There will also be raffles, giveaways and hor d’oeuvres from Pinchers.

“We’re very excited that Pinchers is providing the food this year,” Katie O’Hara of the Chamber of Commerce said, “and there’s a grand prize of a $500 gift card to Sunshine Ace Hardware, which one of the event’s sponsors, so it’s going to be a great event.”

Tickets are free if picked up in advance at the Chamber Information Center or $5 at the door. Carpooling is strongly encouraged. Information: 239-394-7549.

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