Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Despite Trump, Broward officials are still in and committed to clean renewable energy

Summary of #Stillin Press Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL - 11/17/2017

On November 17, 2017, Sierra Club along with partners and volunteers, held a press conference along the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to send a message to world leaders in Bonn, Germany that Broward leaders are #Stillin, committed to local climate action and a just and equitable clean renewable energy future. Speakers included federal, state, county and local elected officials, as well as partners and community leaders engaged in addressing climate change and building a resilient, sustainable and equitable clean renewable energy future. Over 35 people attended the mid-day press event, which was held alongside a river that already swells up and floods streets, parks and communities as a result of sea level rise.

Sierra Club organizers involved included: Diana Umpierre, Jon Ullman and Patrick Ferguson. Our partners included The New Florida Majority, Organizing for Action, For Our Future, US Climate Action Network, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Food & Water Watch and Citizens Climate Lobby Broward Chapter.


Sierra Club Florida Facebook live:

WIOD 610 AM radio interviewed Sierra Club’s Diana Umpierre on the day before the press conference and covered the event live online:
WLRN 91.3 FM Public Radio broadcasted information about the event in its morning drive time news.


- Opening Remarks: Diana Umpierre, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club
- US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
- FL Senator Gary Farmer (D-34)
- Broward County Vice Mayor Beam Furr
- Nancy Metayer, Climate Justice Organizer, The New Florida Majority
- Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Vice Mayor Mark Brown
- Theresa Brier, Broward Director for US Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22)
- Daniel Mulieri, Community Outreach Representative for US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20)
- George Cavros, FL Energy Policy Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
- Alex Easdale, SE Climate & Energy Network Coordinator for US Climate Action Network

Sierra Club’s Opening Remarks
By Diana Umpierre, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club

Today, in Germany, nations of the world wrapped up their talks at COP23, the UN Climate Change Conference, where they met to advance the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Sadly, last June, President Trump announced the US would withdraw from this historic Agreement. This decision does not represent the will of the majority of Americans, and certainly NOT from South Florida. Many government and business leaders across the United States are reaffirming their commitments to 100% clean, renewable energy. A few days ago, the Sierra Club's Ready For 100 Campaign released a report that showcases 10 of nearly 50 US cities that have made ambitious commitments, which include Orlando, St Pete and Sarasota. Additionally, about 170 mayors across the country signed a pledge called Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. Broward Co mayors have made more pledges that any other county in the US.  We can’t afford to wait to act on climate. Extreme weather events like Irma and Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, where I grew up, are reminders that is more important than ever to act and to end our dependence on fossil fuels. Just yesterday, we heard of oil spilled from the Keystone pipeline. Closer to home, we are facing the threat of oil drilling in Broward Everglades. So, We are Still In, because we have the right to a clean sustainable environment. And, we do this work, not alone, but in partnership with many others, including local leaders like those present today.

Quotes from Speakers

US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23):  “We simply don’t have the option of denying climate change any longer, we deal with these realities every day... Importantly, the failure to address climate change virtually ensures that other countries leapfrog the US in creating clean energy and green jobs, which are the future of the world’s energy economy... The US simply cannot compete in a 21st century global economy by clinging to 20th century energy policy… There’s a reason the business community and labors unions came together to strongly urge the President to remain a part of the agreement. Renewable energy is a massive job creator… If President Trump won’t lead from the top, then America and Americans will lead from the bottom up and make sure we can make improvements so we can arrest global warming and climate change.”

FL Senator Gary Farmer (D-34):  “This is really an issue that is non debatable… 70% of Americans support our involvement in the Paris climate accord and recognize the environmental and business threats caused by rising sea levels and climate change in general.. FL has more private property at risk than any other state in our country… from a purely economic point of view, climate change is a huge threat to the State of FL more so than probably any other state in the country, which leads us to scratch our heads and wonder why our Governor.. [has] turned a blind eye to this issue… We must get America back on the right track and we must reject President Trump’s overtures to forget about climate change. This is our country, this is our state, this is our community and it’s up to us to fight to protect it.”

Broward County Vice Mayor Beam Furr:  “We’ve been in; we are still in and we’re going to stay in...This week, Broward County voted to sign the Under2 MOU… We have an audit going on right now on every single public building to find out how much energy is being used, .. when that audit is complete, we will be looking at the recommendations to see how to keep [greenhouse emissions] under 2 [annual tons per capita]... In addition.. I want everyone to know that we are opposing [oil drilling in Broward] entirely, from every level possible.”

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Vice Mayor Mark Brown:  “When you represent a small coastal community,’s really hard to wrap your head around big scientific concepts like sea level rise and global climate change, but we are just not sitting back and waiting for the inevitable to happen. Five years ago we launched a major coastal resiliency program.. Since that time, we have planted over 65,000 sea oats on the beach.. and 2500 endangered staghorn corals just offshore... These programs are working. Unlike other communities, we suffered no beach erosion or flooding from Hurricane Irma and we were just awarded the 2017 Environmental Stewardship award by the Florida League of Cities for our leadership in developing the coastal resiliency program.There’s a reason why my town is called Lauderdale by the Sea and not Lauderdale in the Sea, that’s the beach… and we’re doing everything we can to stay that way.”

Nancy Metayer, Climate Justice Organizer, The New Florida Majority:  “We are all vulnerable but some communities are more than others. Marginalized communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate change. They are faced with the most burden and are able to adapt less. Therefore, I ask our government and local officials to provide equity in emergency response, because [these communities] are the last to get power turned on… exposing them to oppressive heat and life-threatening conditions.. are last to get debris cleaned up leaving them trapped in their homes post-storm… I ask our government to act on climate and to invest in climate resiliency to protect the most vulnerable.. to move towards 100% renewable energy and increase funding to weatherization programs to reduce energy costs for low-income communities and prepare them for solar.”

Theresa Brier, on behalf of US Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22):  “We see the impacts of rising sea levels flooding neighborhood streets and businesses on sunny days. Rising oceans are pushing salt water into the Everglades and freshwater canals, threatening the source of drinking water for millions of South Floridians.. These impacts are being felt around the world. Combating climate change requires a global effort… It is more critical than ever that we move toward a future of clean, renewable energy.. The time to act is now.”

Daniel Mulieri, on behalf of US Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20):  “Climate change is real and we are facing the effects today… That is why, regardless of the lack of leadership from the White House on this critical issue, we must stand together to take strong concrete steps to combat climate change.  President Trump may have isolated the US by making our great nation the only in the world not to participate in the Paris climate agreement but with the response by cities, states and business to step up and do their part, I’m optimistic that we can turn the tide.”

George Cavros, FL Energy Policy Attorney, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy:  “Here are some good news, we have some cost-effective solutions to the climate crisis and I’ll give you an example: it now costs less to generate electricity from solar power than it does from coal, from nuclear and even natural gas. The same holds true for wind. So we are really close to that clean energy future… but we need leadership at the national level to accelerate that move to clean energy so we can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, we need leadership at the international to coordinate with other countries... Look, we are Americans. Americans lead. That’s what we do. We shouldn’t be sitting in the sidelines.”

Alex Easdale, SE Climate & Energy Network Coordinator for US Climate Action Network:  “Local action is the perfect antidote to federal inaction or in this case, federal opposition…. 227 cities, 9 states, over 1600 businesses, over 300 universities and a million people are still in, so we are the right side of history here… We’ve had mayors from places like Abita Springs, LA and Charleston, SC.. heavily conservative republican areas where the mayors and city councils committed to 100% renewable energy… So, this is not a partisan issue, climate change is a security issue. And it’s not about us anymore, it’s about our kids and future generations.”


Broward Co Vice-Mayor Beam Furr addressing the crowd. Credit: Victoria Olson.

Sierra Club Organizer Diana Umpierre introducing the speakers. Credit: Tara Chadwick.

Speakers and attendees posing for a photo after the press event. Credit: Jon Ullman.

Speakers and attendees posing for a photo after the press event. Credit: Susan Caruso.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

LETTER TO GOVERNOR: Deep Injection Wells are contrary to Everglades Restoration

Contact:  Cris Costello, Sierra Club, 941-914-0421,


Deep Injection Wells within the Lake Okeechobee Watershed are contrary to
Everglades Restoration


October 9, 2017

Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

RE:  Deep Injection Wells within the Lake Okeechobee Watershed are contrary to Everglades Restoration

We, the below-signed organizations and businesses committed to the restoration of America’s Everglades and the protection of all of Florida’s water resources write to express our concerns and opposition to the use of Deep Injection Wells (DIWs) within the Lake Okeechobee Watershed as part of Everglades Restoration.  The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) appropriately decided not to consider Deep Injection Wells (DIWs) as part of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project (LOWP), instead suggesting a regional study that would consider their system-wide Everglades impacts.   However, in response to the Corps’ decision, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board voted on June 8, 2017, without any advance public notice or opportunity for meaningful stakeholder input, to go forward with a plan to develop DIWs to dispose of billions of gallons of fresh water and to cover the entire cost with public state tax dollars.

Our concerns include the following:

·         The use of DIWs is inconsistent with the goals of Everglades Restoration. DIWs are not a component of any project in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). DIWs do not help restore the flow of clean water through the Everglades ecosystem.
·         DIWs would divert state dollars needed to implement other Everglades restoration projects, including the acquisition of land both north and south of Lake Okeechobee to restore wetland habitats and to eventually send clean water south to the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay.
·         DIWs in the LOW would permanently remove billions of gallons of freshwater from the regional water budget.  Florida has faced drought conditions several times in the past few years and is likely to again and again.  Once disposed of, the water would be unavailable for ecosystem protection and Everglades restoration during dry and drought conditions. This freshwater is also needed to replenish rivers, wetlands, and the aquifer for millions of Floridians, and to lessen the impacts from rising sea levels and fight saltwater intrusion that pollutes and shuts down potable water wells.
·         According to estimates presented by SFWMD in February 2017, implementation of DIWs would cost or exceed the cost of $1 billion dollars.  Annual operation and maintenance costs will raise the actual budget for DIWs beyond SFWMD’s construction projections.  That is a significant amount of public state funding diverted to a project that will offer no beneficial uses of water to people or the environment, particularly south of the Lake.
·         According to information presented during Project Delivery Team (PDT) meetings, there is relatively little geologic information in the LOW area. In fact, according to a 2007 desktop-study prepared for SFWMD, “the presence of appropriate hydrogeologic conditions for development of injection wells is less certain in areas north and immediately east of the Lake Okeechobee. Most of the areas considered for locating injection wells have little existing data regarding hydrogeologic conditions of the Boulder Zone or its confining layers. This report also states that “the transmissivity of the Boulder Zone is highly variable. It is related to the thickness and lateral extent of the cavernous zones and the related intensity of fracturing. In areas near the Lake, the transmissivity of the Oldsmar formation cannot be confidently estimated without testing.”[1]    It is very risky to depend on DIWs in this region; the state would be gambling taxpayer dollars on a project that may fail to provide its expected benefits. 
·         There are valid concerns over vertical cross-contamination from upward migration of injected untreated water to the overlying Upper Floridan aquifer, especially given the uncertainties about the hydrogeology at this depth and location.  The upward migration of DIW water can contaminate the Upper Floridan Aquifer which is being used as a source of potable water supply in many regional water supply utilities.  Groundwater contamination clean-up in the Upper Floridan would be cost-prohibitive.
·         Injected water from DIWs has been found to move laterally into the nearshore ocean reefs causing pollution and harmful algal blooms.[2] Whether or not this might displace water that could create harmful seepage of ground water and fresh water into surrounding oceans has yet to be answered.
·         While DIWs (approximately 180) are currently being used to dispose of wastewater or wastewater byproducts in Florida, DIWs have never been implemented at the scale and density being considered by the SFWMD; nor have they been used to dispose of fresh surface water.  The long term implication of disposing of such large amounts of untreated water into the Boulder Zone is unknown.
·         The disposal of freshwater from the surface ecosystem via DIWs will not help the natural carbon sequestration (capture) processes that come from protecting and restoring wetland habitats, such as mangroves.
·         The operation of DIWs will be energy-intensive, requiring pumps that run on fossil fuels to pump millions of gallons of water per day, per well, for an unpredictable number of days to months per year. This operation would increase the release of carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

The best solution to significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries during extreme weather events is to speed up the long term restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.  We urge you to ensure that public state tax dollars are invested in Everglades restoration projects that are fully vetted, are consistent with CERP, do not jeopardize our public drinking water supply, and do not waste the state’s precious fresh water resources.  

[1] “Feasibility Assessment of Deep Well Injection to Assist in Management of Surface Water Releases from Lake Okeechobee to Estuaries”, Water Resource Solutions for SFWMD, June 2007

[2] “Benthic Macroalgal Blooms as Indicators of Nutrient Loading from Aquifer-Injected Sewage Effluent in Environmentally Sensitive Near-Shore Waters Associated with the South Florida Keys”, Sydney T. Bacchus, et al, Journal of Geography and Geology, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2014


Anglers for Conservation
Rodney Smith, President

Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Dan Tonsmeire

Aquatics for Life
Susan Steinhauser, President

E. Allen Stewart III P.E., Manager

Bay and Reef Company of the Florida Keys
Captain Elizabeth Jolin
Chris Maroney, Director

Calusa Waterkeeper
John Cassani

Camelot Technology Integration
Gayle Ryan, Owner

Catalyst Miami
Gretchen Beesing, CEO

Center for Biological Diversity
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director, Senior Attorney

Center for Earth Jurisprudence
Margaret R. Stewart, Esq., MPA, LL.M., Director

Citizens for an Engaged Electorate
Barbara Byram, Co-Founder

Clean Water Action
Kathleen E. Aterno, National Managing Director

Jayne Arrington, Owner

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society
Michael J. Baldwin, Vice-President

Earth Ethics, Inc.
Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director

Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
Laurie Murphy, Executive Director

Environment Florida
Jennifer Rubiello, State Director

Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF)
Becky Ayech, President

Florida Clean Water Network
Linda Young

Florida Defenders of the Environment
Jim Gross PG, CPG, Executive Director

Florida Native Plant Society - Conradina Chapter
Carol Hebert, President

Florida Oceanographic Society
Mark Perry, Executive Director

Florida People’s Network
Lisa Peth & Taylor Smith, Co-Chairs

Florida Springs Council, Inc.
Dan Hilliard, President

Florida Water Conservation Trust
Terry Brant, Legislative Chairman

Florida Wildlife Federation
Manley K. Fuller, President

Food & Water Watch
Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director

Friends of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Elinor Williams, President

Friends of the Everglades
Alan Farago, President

Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Juliette Jones, Director

Geranium Lane Farm, Ft. White, FL
Diane Buxton, Owner

Halifax River Audubon
Melissa Lammers, President

Clayton Louis Ferrara, Executive Director

Imagine That Events and Entertainment
Tim Rose, Owner

Indian Riverkeeper
Marty Baum

Izaak Walton League of America
Jared Mott, Conservation Director

Izaak Walton League of America - Florida Division
Michael F. Chenoweth, President

Last Stand
Mark E. Songer, President

Lobby For Animals
Thomas Ponce, President/Founder

Martin County Conservation Alliance
Tom Bausch, Director

Matanzas Riverkeeper
Neil A. Armingeon

National Wildlife Federation
David Muth, Director, Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program

Nature Coast Conservation, Inc.
DeeVon Quirolo, President

Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society
Jim Kochanowski, President

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
Pamela I. Smith, President

Progress Florida
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director

Progress For All
Tim Canova, Chair

Progressives Northwest Florida (PNWFL)
Dr. Carolynn Zonia, Activism Committee

Rebah Farm
Carol Ahearn, Owner

Rise Up Florida
Sharon Van Smith, Membership Director/Environmental Committee Chair

Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association
Jill McGuire, President

Save the Manatee Club
Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation

Seminole Audubon Society
Pam Meharg, Conservation Chair

Sierra Club
Frank Jackalone, Florida Chapter Director

Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START)
Sandy Gilbert, Chairman

South Florida Audubon Society
Grant Campbell, Director of Wildlife Policy

South Florida Wildlands Association
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director

Space Coast Progressive Alliance
Philip E. Stasik, President

Spectrabusters, Inc. 
Debra Johnson, Board Member 

St. Johns Riverkeeper
Lisa Rinaman

Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., Co-founder 

The Center for Sustainable and Just Communities
Ken Eidel, Executive Director

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation
Edward W. Tamson Ph.D., Florida Representative

Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus
Paul Laura, Chair

Tropical Audubon Society
Erin Clancy, Director of Conservation

Urban Paradise Guild
Pete Gonzalez, Director of Policy & Chairman

Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration (W.A.R.), Inc.
Dan Hilliard, President

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. 
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper

Waters Without Borders
Randall Denker Esq., Co-Founder & CEO

WE CAN U & ME, Inc.
Allen's Underground, LLC
Robert M. Allen

Willpower West, LLC
Will Walton, Founder & President

Women's March Florida
Natalia Duke, Environmental Policy Director