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.


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:


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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

FPL closes Cedar Bay coal plant in Jacksonville - Is it a clean energy victory?

Sierra Club applauds FPL’s formal closure of Cedar Bay coal plant
Move overshadowed by bad gas, nuclear plans

JACKSONVILLE, FLA—Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has announced plans to formally retire the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, a 250-megawatt coal-fired facility located in Jacksonville, on Dec. 31.

FPL bought the plant in 2015 and announced it would phase it out of service within this time frame.
Cedar Bay is among 246 coal plants retired or planned for retirement since the Beyond Coal campaign launched in 2010.

In response to FPL’s announcement, Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida chapter director, issued the following statement:

“With this closure, FPL is doing the right thing by removing a major threat to air and water quality in Duval County. We look forward to the day when every coal plant is retired and replaced with clean, renewable energy sources.
“And while we applaud Cedar Bay’s formal closure, this positive move is overshadowed by FPL’s major expansion of climate disrupting gas burning power plants in Florida and its investment in the massive Sabal Trail pipeline that threatens Florida's springs, rivers, and drinking water.
“FPL has a long way to go before it can be considered a good corporate citizen: its Turkey Point power plant is a dangerous fiasco, which has been leaking dangerous wastewater into Biscayne Bay; FPL has put a huge burden on its customers by making them pay for more than one billion dollars’ worth of new, unnecessary and expanded power plants that burn fracked gas from as far away as Pennsylvania and Texas; and its attempt to shut down rooftop solar in Florida by sponsoring the Amendment One ballot measure, which was rejected by voters last month.
“It’s shameful that in the Sunshine State, FPL’s solar power investments comprise less than 1 percent of the utility’s total generation. We will continue to push FPL to meet Florida’s full potential by investing in a clean energy supply that includes more solar, energy storage, and energy efficiency—which are cheaper and safer for our natural resources and for our communities.”


Friday, December 16, 2016

Community Workshop Helps Clear the Smoke on Sugarcane Burning

 Stop Sugar Field Burning team presenters, left,
host Steve Messam, right.

More than 30 residents of Lake Okeechobee’s Glades Communities gathered for the "Stop The Burn!Go Green Harvest! Community Workshop," on December 3, in Belle Glade. Leaders of the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign team, based in South Bay and Belle Glade, gave a series of inspiring presentations about their campaign to end the harmful, outdated practice of pre-harvest sugarcane burning and switch to the burn-free, modern alternative of "green harvesting."
First, workshop host and local team member Steve Messam pointed out that the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign is not about bashing the sugar industry, but rather influencing it to become a better neighbor to the Glades communities. He emphasized that a good neighbor does not dump its trash in the form of smoke and ash on their neighbors’ property and expect them to deal with the cleanup and health consequences.

Campaign team leader Shanique Scott next presented the negative health effects associated with exposure to sugar cane burning emissions. Studies from other parts of the world have concluded that sugar cane burning contributes to respiratory disease and even cancer. When Ms. Scott asked how many residents and their families personally suffered from respiratory issues such as asthma, the majority of the attendees raised their hands. Ms. Scott also spoke from personal experience about how doctors often recommend to Glades community residents that they move away because the smoke during sugarcane burning season aggravates their respiratory conditions.

Kina Phillips presenting at the Workshop

 Kina Phillips, another local campaign team leader gave a presentation on the environmental injustice of sugar burning. She described the discriminatory nature the of industry's voluntary burn protocols: The protocols prevent sugarcane burning on days when winds blow toward the more affluent residents of eastern Palm Beach County, but provide no such protections when the winds blow toward the poorer, predominantly African American Glades communities in Western Palm Beach County. She highlighted how Glades residents suffer the most from the effects of sugarcane burning while receiving the least amount of protection.

Patrick Ferguson, Sierra Club's Organizing Representative for the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign described green harvesting is, how it’s done, and it’s many benefits. His presentation highlighted how in green harvesting sugarcane leaves and tops which are called "trash" by the sugar industry are utilized for profit. In Florida the sugar industry burns the trash to make harvesting quicker and cheaper, but leading global sugar producers Australia and Brazil green harvest nearly all their trash to produce mulch, electricity, ethanol, biochar, bio-plastics, tree-free paper products, and more. In addition to providing more raw materials for commercial uses, his presentation covered how green harvesting is for better public health, the environment, and the long term interests of the sugar industry as well.

Campaign team member Brittany Ingram presented on how residents can join the campaign and help affect positive change in their communities. Ms. Ingram described how signing the local petition and joining petition-canvassing teams is a great place to start. She also informed residents on how to make a formal complaint against sugarcane burning and encouraged them to do so the next time they are affected by smoke or ash so their voices can be heard.

Shanique Scott addressing the audience at the end of the Workshop
The workshop ended with a Q & A session where attendees got to share how sugarcane burning has affected them. When attendees were asked if they would be interested in attending the next meeting the entire room raised their hands filling the air with enthusiasm and hope.The workshop let both the local residents and sugar industry know that the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign is a serious grassroots movement that is on the rise in the Glades.This workshop was the first of many future campaign endeavors in the Glades, which will work to clear the smoke cast by sugarcane burning so a brighter future for Glades will emerge!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oppose Trump's Nomination of Rick Perry for Department of Energy

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sierra Club:   Rick Perry Tapped to Run Agency He’d Eliminate If Only He Could Name It

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly appoint Rick Perry as the head of the U.S. Department of Energy.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

“Rick Perry is being tapped to run an agency he would eliminate if he could only remember its name. Trump’s latest appointment is an insult to our functioning democracy. Putting Perry in charge of the Department of Energy is the perfect way to ensure the agency fails at everything it is charged to do, so Trump might as well just lock the doors for four years.
This isn’t leadership by Trump, it’s a reckless, dangerous decision that proves he has little interest in a functioning government and every interest in propping up his fossil fuel billionaire buddies.

“Perry’s clear financial interests in major energy projects like the Dakota Access pipeline make it obvious that there’s no way he could manage the agency’s activities impartially. His ideological obsession with promoting dirty fossil fuels and ignoring the climate crisis means he is just as unfit for this position as the other climate deniers Trump is promoting for key posts.

“Americans didn’t vote for more fossil fuels, more drilling and fracking, and more pollution, but that’s what we’re getting with Perry and Trump. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for communities across the nation and oppose this nomination.”

About the Sierra Club
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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sierra Club lauds USF St. Petersburg, City of St. Petersburg Renewable Energy plans

USFSP, City Launch New Energy Initiatives
View this email in your browser

December 9, 2016
Contact: Emily Gorman,, (239) 821-3517

USF St. Petersburg, City of St. Petersburg Launch New Renewable Energy Initiatives

USFSP Unveils Climate Action Plan, Investments in solar energy
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -  St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman today joined USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Dr. Sophia Wisniewska to announce the launch of several new energy initiatives that will expand renewable energy and elevate the Sunshine City’s reputation as a leader in sustainability.

On November 21, the St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously to dedicate $800K of its BP settlement funds toward modeling vulnerabilities to sea-level rise, energy analyses and efficiency retrofits for city facilities and, perhaps most importantly, creating an Integrated Sustainability Action Plan (ISAP) that will in part chart a roadmap to 100% renewable energy for the entire community.  St. Petersburg is the 20th city in the United States and the first in Florida to make a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy.

“This is the most robust, comprehensive climate planning initiative St. Petersburg has ever undertaken,” said Mayor Kriseman. “Working towards 100% clean energy and zero waste is just one way we continue to build our city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play.”

USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Wisniewska also unveiled the University's inaugural Climate Action Plan.  Developed in collaboration with the Center for Climate Strategies over the last three years, the Climate Action Plan is a set of strategies to reduce emissions by 50% before 2035 and to achieve full carbon-neutrality by 2050.

“A respect for our environment is among the core values stated in USFSP’s Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan,” said Chancellor Wisniewska. “We take seriously our commitment to become carbon neutral.”

USFSP also announced a $125K investment in a new solar carport to be built directly South of the new College of Business building on 4th Street. The project is designed to provide power to the surrounding buildings and will contribute to the University’s goal of installing 500kW of renewable energy production by 2020.

This announcement comes on the heels of Governor Scott’s emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents, like the recent sewage spills in Pinellas County.  St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay have been identified as among the most vulnerable places to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. When combined with exposure to tropical weather events, economic interruptions like floods, sewage spills and power outages are projected to increase in frequency and severity.

The ISAP is a comprehensive strategy to achieve the City’s sustainability and resilience goals, including avoiding floods and sewage spills, hardening against wind damage and power outages, reducing energy costs and waterfront property insurance rates, and transitioning to a 100% clean energy system. In addition, the ISAP will aim to promote job creation, stimulate private investment, and generally enhance the City’s economic development.  In responding to environmental vulnerabilities, the City and University are creating economic opportunities as well.

“There is no cavalry left. We are the cavalry,” said St. Petersburg City Council Vice-Chair Darden Rice in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It’s left up to cities to be the innovators, to be the agents of change, and to do it in a practical way.”

“Today’s joint announcement is an impressive first by St. Petersburg’s most prominent public institutions to respond to the greatest threats to our community, while creating new opportunities for all people in our region. Suncoast Sierra Club is proud to collaborate with the City and University to support these initiatives and believes that community collaboration in the climate action and 100% clean energy planning process is an opportunity to improve equity and unity in the City,” said Emily Gorman, Co-Manager for the Suncoast Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% St. Pete campaign.

PHOTOS: Download images from our public folder here.

Vice - This Is the First City in Florida to Commit to 100 Percent Renewable Energy
St. Petersburg is one of the first cities in the nation to join Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 national campaign, aimed at leveraging the power of cities to catalyze a national transition toward renewable energy.  Suncoast Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental group comprised of 3,000+ member and 15,000+ supporters.  Ready for 100% St. Pete develops residential and commercial pilot programs with partner organizations and raises public awareness of clean energy and climate planning. Visit or check out our Quick Facts

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Protesters demand that Governor stop polluting coasts

                        PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                           
December 8, 2016

Protesters demand that Governor stop polluting coasts

They called upon him to support Negron’s Everglades water storage plan and end bid to retake federal wildlife refuge

Protesters outside SFMWD Headquarters
West Palm Beach, FL -- More than 40 protesters chanted and waved signs outside Governor Rick Scott’s South Florida water managers last meeting of 2016, a year in which Florida’s toxic green algae catastrophe made headlines around the world.

The protesters called on Scott to support Florida Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to purchase 60,000 acres of sugar fields to store and treat billions of gallons of polluted water.  The nutrient-rich water, which wiped out marine life on Florida’s east and west coasts last summer, would be treated and sent south to the parched Everglades.

Protesters also blasted Scott’s intention to eliminate the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, which could allow polluted water to be dumped there. If carried out, it would be the first time in U.S. history that a coveted National Wildlife Refuge has been removed since Theodore Roosevelt established the first at Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903.

“We all know that for any sweet deal, we’re the ones who pay,” said Mark Walters, Sierra Club Florida Chair. “We’re paying for it in the form of green slime catastrophes and stalled Everglades restoration that gets more expensive every day.”

A parrot puppet sits upon a sign.
The event, organized by Sierra Club,, Indian Riverkeeper, and Caloosahatchee Riverwatch, stressed that clean water is a human right.

“Water is life, and Scott is selling our water protections and quality to billionaire polluters to increase their profits,” said Marty Baum of Indian Riverkeeper.

Governor Scott’s water managers “simply do the bidding of sugar growers rather than advocate for the millions of South Florida taxpayers who are adversely affected by health-threatening algal blooms and looming drinking water shortages,” said Captain Mike Connor of

Some protesters’ signs read: Governor Scott, Stop Blocking Everglades Restoration, No Dirty Water to Lox Refuge, Buy the Land, Send Water South and We have the right to Clean Water.

More photos: here.

Press: WPBF ABC 25 News coverage of the protest.