Florida's Gas Supply, State Wants Sea Turtle Rescuers Off The Beach, And The New Host of ‘Washington Week’
Fear-induced gas shortages. Sea turtle rescuers are being shut down by the state. Plus, a conversation with Yamiche Alcindor, who is hosting one of PBS’ biggest political shows.
On this Thursday, May 13, episode of Sundial,
Florida's Gas Supply
The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline has fueled a panic at the pump across the Southeastern United States — including in South Florida.
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“There was a lot of hoarding of gasoline, like you would do before a major hurricane. This led to not just long lines but the people that were in those lines pumping just dramatically more gasoline than they would do on a normal trip," said WLRN reporter Danny Rivero. "They're not just filling up their tank, they're filling up their tank, plus maybe another two, three or four. So that's led to a lot of lines and it's led to a lot of gas stations running out of gasoline."
But officials from Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are making the message loud and clear: South Florida doesn’t even depend on gas from that pipeline.
“Here in South Florida, virtually all of our gasoline, jet fuel, et cetera, comes through Port Everglades. It comes by sea. This hack is real. The stoppage is real. It is having a very real impact on states like Georgia, Virginia that get the majority of their gasoline from that pipeline. But really here, our fuel supply is completely safe. This does not apply to us,” Rivero said.
You can check out some of Rivero’s reporting on this issue here.
State Wants Sea Turtle Rescuers Off The Beach
Volunteer groups focused on saving sea turtles are facing a shutdown by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The groups have been doing nighttime vigils for more than a decade — on beaches where sea turtles have nested for thousands of years.
Female loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, come to shore to dig and deposit eggs. When they’re ready, hatchlings break out of their shell and should race toward the ocean, directed by the moonlight that attracts them. But brighter lights from beachfront businesses can attract them too and send them into the dangerous city streets.
That’s where volunteers step in and help those stay turtles get back on the right path.
They have permission to do this through permits from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which are necessary to handle animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The commission now says human activity could deter endangered species from depositing their eggs on the beach. They’ve reduced these organizations’ permits and plan on eventually phasing them out completely.
“In Broward County, there is the potential for more than 100 volunteers to be out surveying the beach nightly for up to six months. The greater the human activity on the beach at night, the less likely a mother turtle will come and deposit her clutch of eggs. Females blocked from nesting may shed their eggs at sea, nest in more vulnerable locations or leave the beach before completely covering their nest,” said Carli Segelson, spokeswoman for the Florida FWC, in a written statement.
The impacted volunteer groups disagree.
“We don't disturb the females that are coming onshore. That's part of our training,” said Richard WhiteCloud, the founder and director of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection, one of the organizations facing this shutdown. “We have more people out there from the general public than we do staff-wise. When FWC says that we could have 100 volunteers out there, that couldn't be further from the truth. We have, at best during peak season, maybe 20 people throughout the entire county from our program on a night.”
They argue they’re saving turtles from bigger threats, like the artificial lights coming from the city that disorient the hatchlings. Local governments have put ordinances in place to reduce the light pollution by the beach, but activists like WhiteCloud say enforcement of these laws is lacking.
In the statement to Sundial, the FWC said it would allow the Broward groups to respond to disoriented hatchings during 2021 and encourage them to continue their community-based sea turtle conservation efforts.
The New Host of ‘Washington Week’ on PBS
Yamiche Alcindor has established herself as one of the preeminent journalists in Washington D.C. For the past several years she’s covered both the Biden and Trump administrations as White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour.
But she got her start here in Miami, attending Fort Lauderdale High School and interning at the Miami Herald.
“I got to do stories about my community. I got to do stories about the relationship between Haitian people and the police. I got to use my native language of Haitian Creole to talk to people about their lives and their struggles and to document vulnerable populations," said Alcindor. "I also just got to learn how The Miami Herald covered South Florida, which is this amazing, diverse place where all sorts of craziness is happening all the time."
She has been awarded the prestigious RTDNA John F. Hogan Award and the National Association of Black Journalists' 2020 Journalist of the Year Award. Thursday night she will be awarded the Knight Foundation's Esserman-Knight Excellence in Journalism Award.
“What grounds me is this is a real sense of responsibility, especially in the middle of a pandemic ... [people] needed a media that was going to be clear-eyed and focused and not worried about getting into the drama and back and forth with presidents," Alcindor said.
On top of her White House duties, Alcindor was also recently named the new moderator of "Washington Week," PBS’s weekly Friday night politics show.
We also heard the story of a miniature toy pirate ship's odyssey from Scotland to Miami's shores that's now on its way back home to Scotland. Find that story here.