Steve Newborn

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.

He’s been with WUSF since 2001, and has covered events such as President George W. Bush’s speech in Sarasota as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded; the ongoing drama over whether the feeding tube should be removed from Terri Schiavo; the arrest and terrorism trial of USF professor Sami Al-Arian; how the BP Deepwater Horizon spill affected Florida; and he followed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition through the state - twice.

Before joining WUSF, he covered environmental and Polk County news for the Tampa Tribune and worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center during the early days of the space shuttle.

Sea levels locally may be rising more quickly than had been anticipated. The estimates for Tampa Bay have just gone up.

Scientists monitoring Tampa Bay have updated the most conservative estimate for the expected rise in the bay during this century. That means they're no longer considering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's prediction of a 2-foot rise. The conservative estimate now is from three to 3 1/2 feet above current sea levels.

A bayside laboratory in Apollo Beach is ground zero for an attempt to preserve Florida's coral reefs, which are dying at an alarming rate.

Tampa Electric got the go-ahead from the governor and cabinet Thursday to switch part of the Big Bend power plant from coal to natural gas.

An experiment to increase the genetic diversity of the Florida panther has apparently worked. That's the conclusion of a 10-year study released this week.

Tampa Electric recently announced plans to convert one of its coal-fired units at the Big Bend power plant to natural gas. But Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor wants the state to block that plan this week.

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried came to a St. Petersburg Exxon gas station Thursday with a message to drivers: be aware of illegal credit card skimmers at gas pumps, or your wallet might get taken for a ride.

A report released this week predicts a lot more days of extreme heat - so much that they're being called "killer heat" days. We conclude our three-part series with a plea from scientists for politicians to do something - before it's too late.

By Steve Newborn

In 1995, a heat wave killed more than 700 people in Chicago. It affected mostly elderly, African-American women who lived on their own.

A report released this week shows climate change could mean a lot more days of extreme heat for Florida and Tampa Bay, and with it, the likelihood residents will be exposed to significant health risks.

By Robin Sussingham, Stephanie Colombini, Steve Newborn and Cathy Carter.

They’ve had to battle shark attacks, pollution, massive beach developments and confusing light sources, but sea turtles are bouncing back.

With nesting season well underway, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speaks with experts about how sea turtles are faring and efforts to protect them in our state.


A report released Tuesday says that the nation will face extremely hot days - along with deaths from killer heat waves - in the near future if carbon emissions aren't reduced. And perhaps not surprisingly, Florida may experience some of its hottest days on record.

By Steve Newborn

The state of Tampa Bay report comes out every three years, and the latest one shows the water body is in pretty good shape. It wasn't too long ago that pollution killed a lot of life in the bay.

The report says the bay is continuing its upswing, both in the clarity of the water and its numbers of fish and oysters. Ed Sherwood, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, says sea grasses are nearly double the amount found in the 1970s.

By Steve Newborn

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill late Friday that critics say will gut the state's system of managing growth. The bill also restricts governments from creating affordable housing.

The new law means anyone challenging a development that's inconsistent with that county's existing growth plan would have to pay the other side's attorney's fees if they lose.

The Hillsborough County state attorney announced Wednesday that the convictions of 17 people will be overturned because their cases hinged on three arresting police officers.

State Attorney Andrew Warren said the convictions will be vacated because his office cannot verify the testimony of the officers who were later fired. His move comes after an investigation by the new Conviction Review Unit, which was formed last year to give people a voice when they believe they have been unfairly convicted.

Republicans increased their lead in the Florida House of Representatives Tuesday night, as Randy Maggard defeated Democrat Kelly Smith in a special election in Pasco County.

Maggard, of Dade City, works as a vice president for a discount appliance chain. House District 38 includes most of eastern Pasco, including Wesley Chapel, Dade City and Zephyrhills.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that would mandate construction of a new toll road and extend two others through relatively untouched parts of the state. So WUSF took a drive to the end of the Suncoast Parkway  - at least for now - to see what we would find.

It was a mixed bag for environmentalists in the wake of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. Lawmakers allocated more money than Governor Ron DeSantis asked for on Everglades restoration and fighting red tide and blue-green algae.

But there were some drawbacks, including a bill to build three new toll roads and getting a fraction of the money the governor proposed to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Jennifer Rubiello, state director for Environment Florida - starting with the good that happened.

State lawmakers passed several bills in the wake of last year's scourge of red tide attacking the coastlines and blue-green algae coming out of Lake Okeechobee. But some environmentalists say they didn't address the source of the problem - nutrients flowing into waterways.

Several members of Hillsborough County's legislative delegation gave their take on the just-ended Tallahassee session Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning he will sign a bill instructing the state to build two new toll roads and extend a third through rural parts of the state.

Florida Democrats kicked off a plan Thursday to register 200,000 voters before the 2020 elections. Former candidate for governor Andrew Gillum gave it a kick start, presenting a check for $100,000 from his Forward Florida Action group to Terrie Rizzo, head of the Florida Democratic Party.

Establishing a commuter ferry service linking Tampa, St. Petersburg, MacDill Air Force Base and southern Hillsborough County may take a bit longer to become reality. The first-of-its-kind commuter service on Tampa Bay is running into money and parking woes.

Jane Castor is in her first weeks as the new mayor of Tampa. Her position as the first gay mayor in the Southeastern U.S. didn't come up much during the campaign, but she made national news the day after her victory. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a controversial bill Friday that would have restricted the right of local governments - including St. Petersburg - to regulate single-use plastic straws.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are returning home after two months of hashing out bills - some of which could soon become law. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks with Janelle Irwin, a reporter with Florida Politics, and Steve Bousquet, a columnist with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel.

State lawmakers over the weekend passed a bill that would restrict local governments from requiring new developments to have units set aside for affordable housing. It would also mean anyone challenging a development being approved that's inconsistent with the existing growth plan would have to pay the other side's attorney's fees if they lose.

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate agreement. But the bill, which was sponsored by a Tampa representative, may not go much further than the House.

Jane Castor took the oath of office Wednesday morning, becoming the newest mayor of Tampa.

She addressed a crowd of several hundred people at Armature Works, a trendy food hall built in an abandoned trolley barn north of downtown.

The death of a baby dolphin over the weekend off Fort Myers Beach may have been caused by plastic that filled its stomach. The news comes at the same time moves by cities to ban single-use plastics may be killed by state lawmakers.

Divers were busy in early April transplanting coral grown in the Tampa Bay area to stressed-out reefs in South Florida and The Florida Keys. This unprecedented effort revolves around genetics.

Florida's once-colorful coral reefs are under siege. Warming seas, ocean acidification and diseases like coral bleaching are leaving parts of the world's third-largest reef a ghostly white.

Now, there's a new threat - Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Or more simply, White Plague.

Divers were busy in early April transplanting coral grown in the Tampa Bay area to stressed-out reefs in South Florida and The Florida Keys. This unprecedented effort revolves around genetics.

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