Thursday, February 11, 2016

Have a Heart, Save Our Parks protests to be held at 9 State Parks on Saturday, February 13


February 10, 2016               
Contact:  Frank Jackalone

Have a Heart, Save Our Parks protests to be held at 9 State Parks on Saturday, February 13.

Hundreds to demand Florida drop plans for cattle grazing, logging and hunting 

Who: Hundreds of Sierra Club members and concerned citizens

When: Saturday, February 13, 2016

·         Blue Spring State Park - 2100 W French Ave., Orange City, 9:00 a.m.
·         Fort George Island State Park - 11241 Fort George Road, Jacksonville, 9:30 a.m.
·         Fort Pierce Inlet State Park - 905 Shorewinds Dr., Fort Pierce, 10:00 a.m.
·         Hillsborough River State Park - 15402 US Hwy 301, Thonotosassa, 10:00 a.m.
·         Hugh Taylor Birch State Park - 3109 E Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 10:00 a.m.
·         Wekiwa Springs State Park - 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, 10:00 a.m.
·         Wakulla Springs State Park - 365 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla, 11:00 a.m.
·         Fort Clinch State Park - 2601 Atlantic Ave., Fernandina Beach, 1:00p.m.           
·         Oleta River State Park - 3400 NE 163rd St., North Miami, 1:00 p.m

Note: Time listed above are event start times. Please see full details at

What:  Hundreds of Sierra Club members will gather at state parks across Florida to demand protection of their state parks against attempts by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to turn them into profit centers.  The Have a Heart, Save Our Parks events will raise awareness of Florida’s award-winning state parks and protest proposals by Florida DEP to allow hunting, timbering or cattle grazing in our state parks.  Speakers at the events will explain why these proposals would disrupt and destroy the value of Florida’s state parks as tourist destinations, public recreation sites and pristine examples of preserved natural Florida.  

‘Development, industry and agriculture have transformed most of Florida’s unique ecology to concrete, turf grass and steel,” said Rocky Milburn, Sierra Florida Executive Committee Member and state coordinator of the events.  “The value of our state park lands lie in their undisturbed natural beauty, not sold to the highest bidder for hunting, timbering and cattle grazing, or handed off to private landowners to manage."



Friday, February 5, 2016

Fracking Bill in Senate Appropriations on February 18?

Florida Chapter

Find your State Senator  
Take Action
The fracking bill has slowed down in the Senate thanks to your calls, emails and personal meetings with our State Senators.  The bill, backed by the oil and gas industry, not only would enable the dangerous drilling practice in places like the Everglades, but would force local communities to accept it.

There is still time to stop the bill in the Senate.  The next opportunity for the Senate Appropriation Committee to hear SB 318 would be on February 18,  If the bill passes in that committee, it will be considered by the full Senate shortly thereafter.

HB191 (companion to SB 318) passed the full House of Representatives on January 27 by a vote 73-45.

Scroll down for instructions and messaging for making calls to your Senators.

Please call your State Senator between now and February 18 -- especially if your Senator is one of the 19 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.


1. Find your State Senator by clicking here.

2. Call your State Senator at his/her Tallahassee office (see list below), say that you live in the Senator's district, and that you vote.  Ask him/her to vote NO on fracking bill SB 318. (Leave a message if no one answers and call back during business hours.)  

List of Florida Senators
- Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee in CAPS:

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo
Sen. Aaron Bean
Sen. Rob Bradley
Sen. Jeff Brandes
Sen. Oscar Braynon
Sen. Dwight Bullard
Sen. Jeff Clemens
Sen. Charlie Dean
Sen. Nancy Detert
Sen. Miguel Diaz De La Portilla
Sen. Greg Evers
Sen. Andy Gardiner
Sen. Audrey Gibson
Sen. Travis Hutson
Sen. John Legg
Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs
Sen. Wilton Simpson
Sen. Eleanor Sobel
Sen. Darren Soto
Sen. Kelli Stargel
Sen. Geri Thompson

3. Send this to your friends.

Thank you for all you do to protect Florida's environment.

Dave Cullen

Sierra Club Florida

Talking Points:

Definition of Fracking
The narrow definition of fracking in SB 318 excludes the acid-matrix stimulation technique most likely to be used in Florida.  That means none of the permitting, or the study, or the rules will affect acidizations in the least - even though the same toxic cocktail will be injected into the ground.

The bill preempts counties and cities from regulating or banning fracking.  It deprives citizens of their ability to protect themselves from contaminated water supply and its health impacts.

Trade Secrets
The trade secrets provision means families won't even be able to find out what chemicals are being used.


PS: Be sure to take action and share this on Facebook and Twitter!

To learn more about the work of the Sierra Club Florida, visit our website and our Facebook page.

How I Became a Pipeline Fighter

This post is written by Maryvonne Devensky, chairperson of the Suwannee-St. Johns Group of Sierra Club Florida.   She is a lifelong advocate for environmental education and resident of Florida for nearly 30 years.  It is reposted from the Gulf Restoration Network's blog at

A year ago, I became the chairperson of the Florida Suwannee-St Johns Sierra Club (SSJ). SSJ has members covering 15 counties from Suwannee, Hamilton, Baker, down to Marion, Citrus and Levy. When I moved to Florida in 1979 it seemed that the state was on the brink of a solar revolution. Over the years I’ve seen this momentum diminish, and recently natural gas has threatened the state's renewable energy future. I’m not dead yet, and until then I’m going to fight for Florida’s next generation.

In November Johanna de Graffenreid, of Gulf Restoration Network, contacted me. She was reaching out to groups on the ground in Florida who would be impacted by this dangerous project. Children and families frequently visit the springs and river crossings along the proposed route. She discussed how an explosion, even in these rural areas, could threaten the safety of my neighbors. I’m not a geologist but karst is like swiss cheese. It doesn’t take an expert to know building a pipeline through it is dangerous.

Working quickly, our Suwannee Sierra Club members attended the next meeting by the Suwannee County Board of Commissioners. That night, the room was packed with Suwannee County residents, farmers, business people and members of Sierra Club FloridaGulf Restoration Network and WWALS Watershed Coalition.
Map of the Sabal Trail Gas Pipeline in Florida

For several hours, we shared our deep concerns with the Commission on this dangerous pipeline project. Raising serious issues including: threats to the Suwannee river and various springs in the area, fragility of karst geological system, impacts on natural areas,water resources, and road systems, and disrespect for private property rights. Not a single person spoke in favor this project.

Momentum was building, and fast, but we knew we needed more pipeline fighters in 2016 to win. We hosted a community event and to our surprise, dozens of community members participated! Chris Mericle, an expert on karst geology and a WWALS board member, showed us maps of sinkholes adjacent to the proposed pipeline route. He then took a moment and pointed out the errors included in Sabal Trail’s permit. On a hike following the wooden pipeline markers we saw, first-hand, the active sinkholes found directly next to this highly pressurized fracked gas pipeline route.

We plan to take action and continue outreach along the route,, ensuring that landowners are aware of the hazards this pipeline poses to their property, safety and drinking water. We must ensure that our elected officials hear the truth about Sabal Trail, and we need your support.

Do you want to protect our rivers, springs and communities from this dangerous project? Do you believe that a clean energy future is possible for Florida? Take action now and join us in stopping the Sabal Trail Pipeline.
Contact us to learn how you can become a pipeline fighter in Florida:

Maryvonne Devensky at
Johanna de Graffenreid at

Thursday, February 4, 2016

SCF Action Team Forming: Manatees at risk of downlisting!‏

Dear manatee lovers:

A Sierra Club Florida Action Team is being formed--
Candidates needed

Manatees in Florida are at risk of being downlisted!
Sierra Club Florida needs to assemble a team of members to become oriented to the facts, understand the club’s position and guide our engagement with the recently reactivated Manatee Coalition. We’re building an action-oriented team. We need players and coaches on the field. Would you consider contributing to this effort?
Underwater view of manatee
surfacing to take a breath
Photo: USGS Sirenia Project
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed downlisting the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It is hard to see how the FWS justifies this move despite the agency's findings that "population trends are declining or unknown in 84% of the countries where manatees are found." Before any downlisting should proceed in Florida, there’s need for a credible plan for further reducing mortality and preserving/enhancing warm-water habitat availability (many sites manatees adopt are future-to-be-closed power plant cooling warm-water outflows) and establishing an updated Recovery Plan with successive goals.
Further, two recent, massive die-offs of hundreds of manatees are not addressed in FWS analysis. There were catastrophic manatee losses from long cold snaps and poisonous red tide blooms from 2010 through 2013—and another algae bloom is looming in the Indian River. The FWS analytical model also does not account for loss of habitat due to water-side development.
If you would consider joining the Sierra Club Florida action team being assembled to address these concerns, engage with the Manatee Coalition and to lead action, please contact Florida Chapter Conservation Chair, Tom Larson, with information about your interest and skills:

Save Our Parks, Statewide Day of Action, Saturday, February 13

Statewide Day of Action, Saturday, Feb. 13
Florida's state parks are in peril.

New proposals would allow private, non-conservation uses for our public lands including hunting, cattle grazing, timber harvesting, oil drilling and more.

In response, Floridians will hold rallies, marches and other events at State Parks on Saturday, February 13. 

Type in your zip code to find an event near you and sign up. If you can't find an event at a state park nearby, you can host your own here or at:

State parks in the news: "Florida State Parks should remain natural and protected," Tallahassee Democrat 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Senator Bill Nelson threatens to block energy bill in latest effort to prevent drilling off Florida’s gulf coast

United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

MEDIA ADVISORY: Feb. 3, 2016

Ryan Brown, communications director
Emily Rogers, press secretary
Rhoda Krause, deputy press secretary
Tim Rennie, press assistant

Nelson threatens to block energy bill in latest effort to prevent drilling off Florida’s coast

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D- FL) took to the Senate floor this afternoon to make it clear to his Senate colleagues that he intends to block any effort to repeal a current no-drilling zone that extends 125 miles off much of Florida's Gulf Coast and as far out as 235 miles at some points.

“An amendment that is suspected to be offered by a senator here is going to give incentive … to try to put oil out there,” Nelson said. “Ever since this senator was a young congressman, I have been carrying this battle.  And I can tell you, Mr. President, this senator is not going to let that happen.”

Nelson made the remarks as the Senate continues its consideration of a broader energy bill. The amendment Nelson opposes is one offered by Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana to increase the amount of revenue a state would receive if it allows drilling activities off its coast.

Nelson has been a long-time opponent of having oil rigs too close to Florida, often citing the state’s unique environment; its multi-billion dollar, tourism-driven economy; and the vital national military training areas in the Gulf as reasons why drilling should not be allowed there.

In 2006, he and then-Sen. Mel Martinez successfully brokered a deal to ban drilling off Florida’s Gulf coast through the year 2022.  Nelson filed legislation last year to extend the ban an additional five years, to 2027, and has continuously vowed to do whatever is necessary to keep the ban in place.

Following is a rush transcript and here’s a link to watch video of Nelson’s remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
Remarks on the Senate floor
February 3, 2016

Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, I have raced to the floor simply because it has come to my attention that there are some Senators that are utilizing this energy bill, which is an energy bill for a very valued purpose, a purpose of energy efficiency, and they're utilizing this for their own purposes in proposing amendments that ultimately will threaten the environmental integrity off of Florida's coast and will threaten the United States Military in its ability to maintain the largest testing and training area for the United States Military in the world, which is the Gulf of Mexico off of Florida.
Mr. President, I want to refer you to a map of the Gulf of Mexico. And I want to show you everything -- here is the tip of Florida. This is Pensacola. This is Naples. Tampa. Down here is the Florida Keys; Key West. Everything in yellow, the Gulf of Mexico, in law until 2022, is off-limits to drilling.
It happens to be a bipartisan law that was passed back in 2006, cosponsored by my then-fellow senator from Florida, a Republican, Mel Martinez, and the two of us put this in law. Why? The drilling is over here: everything to the west.
Well, the first reason is where is the oil? The oil is off where Mother Nature had the sediments coming down the Mississippi River for millions of years, and they were compacted into the Earth's crust and it became oil. And the oil deposits are off of Louisiana, Texas, a little bit off of Mississippi, and Alabama. There really isn't much oil out here.
But why in addition did we want this area kept from drilling? Well, take a look at that. That's a marsh in Louisiana as a result of the gulf oil spill several years ago. We certainly don't want this in Florida, but, Mr. President, if you notice, off of Louisiana, there are not many beaches. Off of Mississippi, there are not many beaches. Off of Alabama, not many beaches. But what do you think Florida is known for? Its pristine beaches all the way from the Perdido River, which is the Florida-Alabama line, all the way down the coast, all the way to Naples, and then, Mr. President, not only the Keys, but up the East Coast of Florida.
Florida has more beaches than any other state. Florida has more coastline than any other state, save for Alaska, and Alaska doesn't have a lot of beaches. People come to Florida in large part not only because of Mickey Mouse, but also because of our beaches.
And when they saw this oil on the white, sugary sands of Pensacola Beach that had turned black as a result of that gulf oil spill, which was way over here, but it did drift to the east and it got as far as Pensacola. A little bit more got as far east as Destin. A little bit more, just a few tar balls on Panama City beach. But when the people of America saw those white, sugary sand beaches black from oil, they assumed that that had happened to the entire coast of Florida, and as a result, people didn't come. For one whole season.
So what happened to Florida’s economy? What happened to the dry cleaners and the restaurants and the hotels that all are so welcoming of our guests, our visitors who didn't come? You get the picture of what happened to our economy.
And I’m speaking of this as the senator from Florida, but now let me speak as the senator who is the second ranking democrat on the Armed Services Committee.
Mr. President, this area is known as the Military Mission Line. Everything east of that line, indeed almost all of the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest training and testing area for the United States military in the world.
Why do you think that the training for the F-22 is at Tyndall Air Force Base at Panama City? Why do you think that the training for the new F-35 joint strike fighter, both foreign pilots as well as our own, why do you think that's at Eglin Air Force Base? It’s because they've got this area. Why is the United States Air Force training test and evaluation headquarters at Fort Walton, Eglin Air Force Base, because they have got 300 miles here that they can test some of my -- our most sophisticated weapons. And you talk to any admiral or general, and they will tell you you cannot have oil-related activities when we are testing some of our most sophisticated weapons. This is a national asset, and it is key to our national defense.
So for all those reasons, Senator Martinez and I put in law this is off-limits up until the year 2022, but now comes a law, sneaky amendments on this energy bill giving additional revenue sharing to these states and upper states on the Atlantic seaboard, giving them - the states - a financial incentive to get a cut of the oil revenue. What do you think that's going to do to the government of the state of Florida in the future as an excuse to put drilling out here? As well as to put drilling off the east coast of Florida.
Mr. president, when I was a young congressman, I faced two secretaries of the interior who were absolutely intent that they were going to drill on the east coast of the United States from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, all the way south to Fort Pierce, Florida. And the only way way back then -- that was back in the early 1980's, in the mid 1980's -- the only way that we were able to get that stopped, which this young congressman had a hand in doing, was to explain you can't have oil rigs off of Cape Canaveral where we're dropping the first stages of all of our military rockets that are so essential for us to get assured access into space in order to protect ourselves with all of those space assets.
And of course, in the early 1980's, I could talk about what was going to happen for 135 flights of the space shuttle. You can't have oil-related activities where the first stages, the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle are going to be landing by parachutes in the ocean, because you were going to threaten the launch facilities for the United States military as well as NASA if you put oil-related activities out there.
And so, too, in another two years we will be launching humans again on American rockets, some of whose first stages will still be crashing into the Atlantic and whose military defense payloads continue to launch almost every month and those first days. And those first stages splashdown out in the Atlantic.
And yet an amendment that is suspected to be offered by a senator here is going to give incentive in the future, all the more pressure to try to put oil out there.
Mr. President, ever since this senator was a young congressman, I have been carrying this battle. This senator supports oil drilling. This senator supports where it's environmentally sound fracking in shale rock, because look what it's done for us. But there are times when there is trade-off, and in this case, there is not going to be a trade-off, in the first place, because there's not any oil; in the second place, because it would wreck the economy of Florida with our tourism and our sugary white beaches. But in the third place, it would threaten the national security of this country, if you eliminated this as our largest testing -- test and training evaluation center.
And I can tell you, Mr. President, this senator is not going to let that happen.
Mr. President, I yield the Floor.