Friday, February 17, 2017

Sierra Club Florida: Nelson Thanked/ Rubio Spanked on Pruitt EPA Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2017

Contact: jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org




Sierra Club Florida: 
Nelson Thanked/ Rubio Spanked on Pruitt EPA Vote


WASHINGTON D.C.-- Today, the U.S. Senate voted to approve Donald Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In response, Sierra Club Florida Director Frank Jackalone, released the following statement:

“The appointment of Scott Pruitt is a complete environmental and public health disaster. Based on his record of putting polluter profits before people, Pruitt will undoubtedly be the most dangerous EPA Administrator in history.

“When it came to protecting his own constituents from the growing threats of earthquakes caused by fracking and coal ash pollution, Pruitt turned his back on Oklahoma families by doing nothing.  He is a relentless opponent of the most necessary health protections, such as those that safeguard our families from harmful smog or air pollution in national parks, and even went so far as to question whether mercury pollution, a known toxin, is dangerous to public health.

“We applaud Senator Nelson for putting Florida’s interests, like clean air and clean water, first. He has shown extraordinary leadership and judgement in voting against Pruitt’s nomination.

“We are deeply disappointed, however, in Senator Rubio for failing to protect Florida families from coal, gas, and oil corporations and their new puppet at EPA, Scott Pruitt.”

Sierra Club and its 2.7 million members and supporters will continue to mobilize and resist attacks on clean air and clean water every step of the way.”

###

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to nix underground Everglades pumping schemes

Does this look like Everglades Restoration to you?
Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Donald Trump's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Rick Scott's appointed South Florida Water Management District are moving fast on radical underwater pumping schemes to benefit Big Sugar at the expense of the Everglades. You can stop them.

Email Federal Officials now to: OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil to oppose the use of Deep Injection and Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells in Everglades Restoration.

Talking points:

-- Using fossil-fuels to pump billions of gallons of tainted water into our aquifer is inconsistent with the goals of Everglades Restoration.

--- Deep injection and ASR well schemes threaten underground drinking aquifers with pollution.

-- Deep injection and ASR well schemes waste billions of gallons of water needed for Everglades Restoration.

-- Deep injection and ASR well schemes divert millions of dollars needed to buy land and build reservoirs on sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee so water can be stored, cleaned and sent south to the Everglades.

Read more about these Everglades well schemes in Sierra Club's testimony below)

Email your comments to: OkeechobeeWatershedRestoration@usace.army.mil

After you've submitted your comments to the Army Corps, send an email letting us know to: diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org


Sierra Club’s Statement to SFWMD Governing Board on February 9, 2017 

Yesterday you [SFWMD] sent a news release urging South Florida families and businesses to save water, to cut down on irrigation, to get through the dry season. You said “water conservation is important all year but especially now to help sustain the regional water supply”. You told us of the historic dry month we had this past November, driest since 1932. You stated that District water managers are “operating the system to save as much water as possible”.

Well, we are glad the District feels that conserving water is important. Sierra Club certainly agrees. Therefore, we cannot understand why a few days earlier you sent a news release about a so-called “historic plan” that includes throwing away billions of gallons of freshwater away permanently. That is NOT water conservation and that is certainly NOT leading by example.

Sierra would like to restate its opposition to using high-cost, energy-intensive ASR wells as part of Everglades Restoration, as these do not help restore the natural flow of clean water over the Everglades ecosystem.  And, every dollar spent on ASRs takes away a dollar away from restoration of the Everglades.  But today, let us delve into the notion of using deep injection wells as part of what should be a restoration effort.

We have a broken Everglades system with two big inter-related water problems:
- Too much Lake O water wasted, sent to tide, harming coastal estuaries; and
- Not enough going south were it used to flow to replenish aquifers, the Everglades and Florida Bay.

Algae blooms and seagrass die-offs make easy headlines, but that is not the only water crisis we have. Besides a starving Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, we simply do not have enough water flowing south to replenish the underground source of water for millions of Floridians and tourists and to help them fight saltwater intrusion that pollutes and shuts down water wells. This contributes to higher costs for public water utilities forced to look for alternative water supplies and treat salt-polluted wells to meet their water demands. These costs are passed down to all of us.

Therefore, we find it appalling that while urging us to conserve water, you seem willing to throw valuable freshwater away permanently from the water budget.

Do NOT waste OUR water and stop blocking or delaying a key CERP project that calls for additional storage and treatment in the EAA to convey more clean freshwater to the south.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Floridian at Standing Rock

Photo by Julie Ferreira
UPDATE: Today, February 7, 2017, the Trump Administration's Army Corps of Engineers cancelled the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) started under the Obama Administration and announced it would  grant an easement to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Sierra Club is calling for people to send a message to the Army Corps demanding that the EIS be completed. To send a message, click HERE.
Also continue to submit comments on the EIS scope to Mr. Gib Owen at gib.a.owen.civ@mail.mil

My Time at Standing Rock
by Julie Ferreira
Sierra Club, Nassau Group

Julie Ferreira
The golden hills of the Plains are incredibly beautiful and remote. It’s a majestic beauty that is intensified by vast blue sky, sun, and for me the chilly winds that November blew across the high plains. It's with this welcome that I entered the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.

Oceti Sakowin began as an overflow camp for other nearby camps that formed early last spring. Named for the seven bands that historically made up the Great Sioux Nation, it served as the heart of the resistance for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe which has been protecting the waters of the Missouri River as well as their sacred burial sites from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  

Photo by Julie Ferreira
I arrived at the encampment just as the sun had set. Once out of the car, there was a sense of celebration and prayer in the air and I found myself surrounded by the aroma of burning cedar and sage as it mixed with the scent of glowing campfires. All of this was enhanced by the sound of native drums, song and ceremonyThe landscape was covered with tipi's, tents of all sizes, makeshift shelters, cars, and small RV's that serve as housing for the camp of water protectors. While I was there, the camp housed between 1500 and 3000 people and numbers tended to grow on the weekends. For Thanksgiving numbers increased to over 8000.

Photo by Julie Ferreira

People caring about people is what makes Standing Rock a different kind of movement.  Life at the Oceti Sakowin camp revolved around native spirituality, ceremony, and the sacred fire.  No images were to be taken of the sacred fire, partly, as one of the elders explained, so that we have to remember what happens around the fire in our hearts. 

The area around the central sacred fire is lined with canopies and folding camp chairs which are reserved for elders. Speakers address fellow native water protectors and their allies as “relatives”. The amplified voices from the speakers tent serve as the communication backbone in a place where cellular service is rare.  The day begins early before daybreak with the sound of the speaker urging all relatives to "get up, get up- this is why you're here, and this is what you came here for". We are encouraged to make it to the sunrise morning prayers around the sacred fire where elders sing songs of praise and encourage everyone to greet the day as human beings, with love and a determination to get it right.
Photo by Julie Ferreira
Throughout the day new arrivals would stream into camp. Hundreds of individuals from the world over came to offer resources and help. The volunteer tent sent workers out to volunteer their help in all corners of the camp. Winterizing the camp and preparing spaces for winter were big on the list of needed activities while I was in camp. I chopped and stacked wood, helped in the kitchen, picked up trash, was trained in non-violent resistance, and participated in direct actions. 
At 9:00 every morning there was an orientation for those just arriving. The rules of camp were to remain in prayer and ceremony. No drugs, alcohol, or weapons were allowed, nor were the use of swear words. There is a policy of no use of cameras unless you are with the media, this is because if law enforcement were to confiscate your phone or camera others could be targeted and put at risk because of your pictures. 
Photo by Julie Ferreira


Indigenous people fighting to protect not just their land, but the land, is centuries old but it wasn't until I returned home from Standing Rock and was reflecting on my experiences that I realized that I had walked on the same land that Sitting Bull walked upon. The Standing Rock reservation is where Sitting Bull lived after he surrendered in 1881 because his people were on the brink of starvation after all the buffalo had been slaughtered. (An estimated 31,000,000 buffalo were killed between the years of 1868 and 1881.) 
Our government has broken every treaty that's ever been made with the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people. The government has ignored tribal sovereignty, Indian law, and treaty rights. In 1958, the Army Corps constructed the Oahe Dam which destroyed more native land than any other public works project in the U.S.  It took 21,026 acres of Sioux land. The project destroyed 90 percent of the timber land on the reservation as well as the most valuable rangeland, most of the cultivated areas, and the tribe's wild fruit and wildlife resources. With the damming of the Missouri River, life at Standing Rock’s changed forever. It forced many native people to relocate, traditional spirituality waned, and poverty ravaged families. Luckily the struggle at Standing Rock has created a resurgence of the old ways in camp where the native language is spoken, the native horse culture is celebrated as youths ride on horseback, and people share their songs and dances, their prophecies, and histories. 

Photo by Julie Ferreira
Photo by Julie Ferreira
The movement against the Dakota Access oil pipeline was begun by the youth on the Standing Rock reservation who see themselves as the 7th Generation- the generation that their elders have told stories about as a fulfillment of the prophesies of Black Elk. 
In a vision about 150 years ago Black Elk, a Lakota Holy Man, saw different races represented by hoops and in Seven Generations he saw all hoops becoming one. The spiritual leaders and elders have prayed for the fulfillment of this prophesy and for the hoops of the nations to reunite. Black Elk's vision basically showed all the native peoples and tribes uniting along with people of all colors coming together in a sacred place to save the world. 

I don't know if its because of this or not, but thousands of of Native Americans from more than 300 tribes spanning the continent have now joined with Standing Rock to stand against the pipeline. This has never ever happened before. Native nations have set aside their long held differences and resentments in order to defeat the controversialDAPL pipeline which will destroy ancestral burial grounds and could poison the water supply  not only for this sovereign nation, but also for 19 million Americans who live downstream and rely on the Missouri River for drinking water. 
Photo by Julie Ferreira
It was the Standing Rock native youth who first initiated major resistance to the pipeline. In order to hand over a petition calling for a full environmental impact study on the pipeline, they decided to run 500 miles from Cannonball, North Dakota to the district office of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Nebraska. Once the pipeline had been approved and construction was beginning, the Oceti Sakowin youth again began to run- but it this time it was the 2,000 miles from North Dakota to the doorstep of the Army Corps in Washington, D.C.-  to meet with high-level government officials in hopes to halt the construction of the pipeline. 

The youth, with the support of elders, co-ordinated many of the direct actions and resistance in camp. Their creativity in the strategies they devised was nothing short of brilliant. Actions like trying to stop pipeline work by walking the easement and obstructing machines, creating ceremony alongside a railroad track which slowed down the train delivering materials for the drilling platform, to gathering in prayer and ceremony outside of the Bismarck Wells Fargo which is one of the money lenders, to going to the DAPL headquarters to pray and do ceremony, or organizing 600 people to form a human medicine wheel on the banks of the river for aerial photography. These were the actions taking place when I was in camp, but everyday these talented young people create new and different actions.
A barbed wire fence in front of the camp proclaimed to drivers along state Highway 1806: “We are unarmed.” Even so, a non-law enforcement helicopter, rumored to be private security, frequently buzzed overhead. At night airplanes without lights circled above the camp. At the direct actions, the police were dressed in riot gear; they sported automatic rifles, mace, canisters of pepper spray, rifles with rubber bullets and had armored vehicles. Over militarization of the situation would be an understatement for a setting with unarmed civilians standing in prayer. It looked and felt more like Gaza than the United States.


While on the front lines I saw a span of generations- teenagers, young adults, adults, and elders who bring their appreciation and respect for Wni Wiconi- Water Is Life to the direct actions. They understand with all their hearts that there would be no life without water. Water plays an essential part in their ceremonies. 


One thing is for sure, you can't drink oil. The water supply on the reservation is dependent on the Missouri River because the water table is too deep for it to be practical to drill wells. I was told by a generous reservation family that allowed me and others to bathe at their home that because the pipeline is just a half mile from the northern border of the reservation that their water supply would be contaminated within 45 minutes if there was ever an oil spill.
On Dec. 4th there was an announcement of a temporary halt on the pipeline called by the Army Corps of Engineers to potentially resolve the Tribe’s concerns that the earlier permitting decision had not fully considered their interests and route alternatives. This was just after 4,000 veterans had arrived in Standing Rock. There were celebrations in the Water Protectors' camps, yet it seemed to people on the ground to be an orchestrated de-escalation. Those 4,000 vets added to an existing 10,000 people already in camp and this attracted big media coverage. The eyes of the world were focused on Standing Rock where riot ready law enforcement were facing the unarmed military personnel that had come with the mission to protect the right of the Water Protectors to peaceful protest. At the time it seemed that the powers that be could not afford the visual of armed military riot police and DAP'L mercenaries going up against unarmed military and civilians standing in prayer in a setting that often looked and felt more like Gaza than the United States. 
On January 18th, the Department of the Army published the Notice of Intent to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS was exactly what Water Protectors and tribal leaders were calling for. They wanted to make sure it fully took into consideration tribal treaty rights, natural resources, cultural and sacred places, socio-economical concerns, environmental justice, and the health and wellbeing of those downstream who rely on the Missouri River for drinking water. 
The Department of the Army's Civil Works division announced it would accepted public comment until February 20th, 2017. The tribal leaders asked all interested citizens to please help the Water Protector movement by sending comments to ACOE to identify potential issues, concerns, and reasonable alternatives that should be considered in this EIS. 

On February 7, 2017, the Trump Administration's Army Corps of Engineers cancelled the EIS and announced it would soon grant an easement to complete the Pipeline

Sierra Club is calling for people to send a message to the Army Corps demanding that the EIS be completed. To send a message, click HERE.
Meanwhile commritten comments on the EIS scope may be submitted via email to Mr. Gib Owen at gib.a.owen.civ@mail.mil. Use “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” as the subject of the email. Postal service or hand delivery by advance arrangement may be addressed to Mr. Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108. Include submitter’s name, return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” on the first page.
Months ago there was a rumor that there had been a two and a half million dollar donation given for legal fees- turns out that is not true. Funds are still needed to coordinate the criminal and civil litigation efforts of the water protectors. If you feel drawn to helping the legal team who is supporting arrestees, you can mail a check payable to "Water Protector Legal Collective" to PO Box 69, 300 Collins Ave., Mandan, ND 58554-9998.

The latest news:

U.S. to grant final permit for controversial Dakota pipeline: court filing, Reuters, Feb. 7, 2017
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-north-dakota-pipeline-idUSKBN15M2DU

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sierra Club Florida praises statewide ban on fracking bill

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact David Cullen, cullenasea@aol.com or Jonathan Ullman, jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org


Sierra Club Florida praises statewide ban on fracking bill
Bill sponsor Senator Dana Young listened to Floridians
Rep. Mike Miller files companion

Tallahassee, FL – Florida moved a giant step closer to outlawing all forms of the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” with the introduction of bills SB 442 and companion HB 451. The bills would bar hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing.

The Senate sponsor is Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa) with co-sponsors Sens. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), Keith Perry (R-Gainesville), and Gary Farmer (D-Broward Co.) The House bill is sponsored by Rep.  Mike Miller (R-Orlando) and co-sponsored by House Democratic Leader Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa).  The bipartisan support for this issue is in response to the overwhelming public opposition to fracking in the Sunshine State.

Woman holds sign saying
"Don't Frack me Bro."
Photo by Linda S. Jacobson, Flickr.
“We appreciate Senator Young giving us the opportunity to provide input during the drafting process,” said Sierra Club Florida Lobbyist David Cullen. “And we appreciate the hard work of all the organizations and activists who fought so hard for the past three years to get to this day.  We’ll need everyone’s energy to get this bill to the finish line and signed into law.”

Last year, legislation sponsored by Southwest Florida legislators and written by the oil and gas industry, sought to provide a framework for fracking in Florida while concealing the fracking chemicals contents as trade secrets and preempting local communities’ ability to protect their residents. The legislation failed.

The final EPA study on fracking (December 2016) identified more than 200 chemicals used in fracking associated with cancer, immune system effects, changes in body weight, changes in blood chemistry, cardiotoxicity, neurotoxicity, liver and kidney toxicity, and reproductive and developmental toxicity.  Once contaminated by these chemicals, Florida’s karst geology that contains our drinking water aquifer would be impossible to clean.

Since last year, close to 90 counties and cities have shown their support for an oil and gas fracking ban citing the risk of water contamination.

Sierra Club Florida is part of the Floridians Against Fracking coalition.

###

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Suncoast Sierra Says "Clean Energy for ALL" @ St. Pete Dr. King Parade

Sierra Club today values equity, justice, and inclusion as core principles. The Suncoast Group of the Sierra Club walked the walk for justice in their community Monday as its members marched in St. Petersburg’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. Consistent with the parade’s theme to “Dream Big,” as Dr. King did, the Suncoast Group spread the message of “Clean Energy For All,” as they marched two miles to greet 40,000 along Central Ave.

Last year, Suncoast Sierra dreamed big. Its Ready for 100 campaign succeeded in getting the City of St. Petersburg to commit to moving completely off all fossil fuels as the City adopted its Integrated Sustainability Action Plan that combines climate action with action for a resilient coastal city. 

Suncoast Sierra demonstrated that clean energy means more than just solar panels and efficient buildings. Its parade contingent featured 4 Electric Vehicles (EVs): 2 Chevy Volts, a Tesla Model S, and a 2012 Nissan Leaf purchased used for less than $10,000 showing how everyone can end their own use of oil today. 
Future EV owners check out a Chevy Volt. Hopefully they'll be EV passengers soon! 
You can get an EV for >$10K!

After the parade, the Suncoast Sierra members explained the benefits and affordability of EVs at the Family Fun Day event on the Tampa Bay Rays’ Tropicana Field lot. Suncoast Sierra leaders Lucinda & Howard Johnston raved about their new 2017 Volt. 

Tom Krumreich of Sierra Club’s FL Healthy Air Campaign explained how a used EV market has emerged in the past year allowing clean, quiet cars to be priced competitively with internal combustion cars and hybrids.  Tom & the Johnstons were thrilled with the high level of interest and excitement in their EVs

Suncoast Sierra volunteer
Jessica Lewis surveys new activists
Suncoast Sierra has been reaching out to St. Petersburg’s diverse community in recent years by marching in Pride parades and tabling at Pride street festivals. The FL Healthy Air Campaign rolled in its 4th parade with EVs drawing great interest from onlookers. 

By sharing a positive, fossil-free view for the future, Suncoast Sierra and the FL Healthy Air Campaign are striving to include the entire community in the switch to Clean Energy for All

-- Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Lucinda Johnston spins her
Roulette Wheel for prize giveaways
Florida Healthy Air & Ready for 100 Campaigns





Friday, January 6, 2017

President Obama pulls the plug on Seismic Airgun Testing

Sierra Club celebrates this major victory. Here's a press release from our friends at Oceana.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 6, 2017

President Obama Denies All Pending Permits for Seismic Airgun Blasting in Atlantic Ocean
Oceana Applauds Obama Administration’s Latest Move to Protect East Coast Communities and Economies
                                                                             
WASHINGTON – Today, the Obama administration formally denied all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic airgun blasting, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface, was originally proposed in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida.

This announcement follows several recent historic moves by the Obama administration to decrease America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, including the removal of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans from the five year program (from 2017-2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf and the permanent protection of important areas of the Atlantic and Arctic from future offshore drilling.

Oceana applauded the announcement and released the following statement from campaign director Claire Douglass:

“Today, we thank the Obama administration for finishing the job in protecting the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling activities.

East Coast communities can finally take a well-deserved sigh of relief knowing that their ocean and economies are currently spared from dangerous seismic airgun blasting.

With offshore drilling off the table for the near future, there was absolutely no reason to risk the damage that would be caused by seismic airgun blasting in the region.

President Obama and Director Hopper should be revered for their leadership in transitioning the United States away from expanded offshore drilling and toward a cleaner energy economy, including the development of renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.

Over the last few years, Director Hopper and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have made it a priority to listen to all stakeholders, from the interests of the oil and gas industry to the East Coast fishing and tourism economies.

As of today, more than 120 East Coast municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing over 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. These individuals and groups understand that nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product are at risk if dangerous oil activities occur in the Atlantic Ocean.

We know that seismic airgun blasting is dangerous. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean, firing intense blasts of compressed air every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks to months on end. The noise from these blasts is so loud that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, which is approximately the distance from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas.

In addition to being extremely loud, these blasts are of special concern to marine life, including fish, turtles and whales, which depend on sound for communication and survival. Numerous studies demonstrate the negative impacts that seismic airgun noise has on ocean ecosystems, including reduced catch rates of commercially valuable fish and silencing bowhead whales. 

The government’s own estimates state that seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic could injure as many as 138,000 marine mammals like dolphins and whales, while disturbing the vital activities of millions more.

In 2015, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the impacts of seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, stating that ‘the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which approximately only 500 remain.’

Today’s decision comes from a visionary president dedicated to preserving the marine environment and furthering a legacy of action against climate change. We applaud the Obama administration for protecting the Atlantic Ocean for generations to come.”

Please use the following link to share this release: http://bit.ly/2hXRy6d

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Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 100 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more about Oceana’s work in the United States, please visit www.usa.oceana.org.