Friday, August 28, 2015

Sierra Club and allies file for an injunction to restore Amendment 1 funding

(August 28, 2015 -Tallahassee)  The Sierra Club, the Florida Wildlife Federation, St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida represented by Earthjustice filed suit today asking the courts to force the Florida Legislature to return Amendment 1 funds to a conservation land buying fund.

"We are asking for Florida’s courts to uphold the constitution as amended by the voters,” said Sierra Club Florida Conservation Chair Tom Larson. “The legislature needs to be held accountable for ignoring the will of the people."

The funds from documentary stamps on land transactions, which are expected to reach $740 million next year, were diverted by the Legislature to accounts that had nothing to do with land acquisition. Among other things, they were used to pay state executive salaries, agricultural pollution subsidies and insurance premiums.

According to the suit: “The Legislature owes the people of the State of Florida a duty to honor and effectuate the intent of the voters in the use of the funds placed in trust under this constitutional amendment.”

The November 2014 ballot summary stated:

Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; land protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.

An extraordinary 75 percent of the electorate voted for Amendment 1 proving that the people of the state understand the need to protect the richness of Florida's wild heritage and unique waters.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beyond Coal & Tampa Bay Group Want AG Bondi to drop stay on Clean Power Plan

Environmentalists want Bondi to drop Clean Power lawsuit

Posted at WMNF.org on August 18, 2015 by Sean Kinane

Florida environmental advocates are asking state Attorney General Pam Bondi to drop her lawsuit against a federal plan to clean up greenhouse gasses; in a press conference at Tampa City Hall Tuesday morning the Florida staff director of the Sierra Club said his group is not a fan of Governor Rick Scott’s administration. But Frank Jackalone praised Scott’s response to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan calls for carbon pollution in the U.S. to be reduced by an average of 28% and for each state to be in charge of its own reductions. Florida needs a plan by next year to reduce emissions by 25%.

Jackalone says low-lying coastal cities like St. Petersburg and Tampa are particularly vulnerable if nothing is done to reduce carbon pollution.

Sean Shaw used to work in the state CFO’s office as insurance consumer advocate. He warns that if greenhouse gas pollution isn’t brought under control the economic consequences in Florida will be severe.

Ken Conklin said he supports the Clean Power Plan because fewer air pollutants will help his environmentally-induced asthma. Conklin owns a small consulting business called Neighborhood Nerd and he says even people who aren’t sick would save money by investing in cleaning up the environment.  He cited his medical bills that are often picked up by federal programs like Medicaid.

Watch the full press conference.

Also at the press conference was the executive director of Florida Council of Churches who spoke about the morals of battling climate change.

Meanwhile, Tuesday the Obama administration proposed cutting methane emissions from U.S. oil and gas production by nearly half over the next decade. It’s part of on ongoing push by President Barack Obama to curb climate change.

The Sierra Club’s Frank Jackalone says reducing natural gas emissions is an important step to control global warming.

Listen to the full story.

The Obama’s administration’s target is to cut methane from oil and gas drilling by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. A new rule would require energy producers to find and repair leaks at oil and gas wells and capture gas that escapes from wells that use a common drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Officials estimate the rule would cost industry from $320 million to $420 million in 2025. But reduced health care costs and other benefits would total about $460 million to $550 million.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Sources:  https://youtu.be/QbpKl9HpJeE https://soundcloud.com/wmnf/fl-environmentalists-want-bondi-to-drop-clean-power-lawsuit-wmnf-news
http://www.wmnf.org/cleanpower0818/# http://news.wgcu.org/post/florida-environmentalists-want-bondi-drop-clean-power-lawsuit

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sierra Club Florida Statement on Release of the Clean Power Plan


Monday, August 3, 2015
Contact: 

Sierra Club Florida Statement on Release of the Clean Power Plan

TAMPA, Fla. -- Today, the EPA and the Obama Administration released the final version of the landmark Clean Power Plan.

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

“Floridians stand to benefit immensely from the Clean Power Plan. Florida’s air will be healthier with less dirty emissions, and our economy stronger thanks to the addition of tens of thousands of jobs installing solar panels and energy savings retrofits to our homes and businesses.

“The Clean Power Plan gives us a fighting chance to save Florida’s coastal areas from devastation by climate change. If we act now and implement President Obama’s plan, we can prevent the worse case scenario of sea level rise forecasted by scientists. If we do nothing, most of Florida’s coastal cities will be covered in water and become uninhabitable by the end of this century.”

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Call for Vendors and Sponsors St. Pete Drive Electric Day on the Bay

Call for Vendors and Sponsors
St. Pete Drive Electric Day on the Bay
September 12, 2015    Spa Beach Park /The Pier   Downtown St. Petersburg

Businesses, organizations, community groups and entrepreneurs with a focus on electric vehicles, as well as supporting technology and sustainable products and services, are invited to participate in St. Pete Drive Electric Day on the Bay on September 12 in downtown St. Petersburg. This exciting event is part of National Drive Electric Week, a nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of plug-in vehicles of all kinds which can serve as a means to carbon reduction and cleaner air.

St.  Pete Drive Electric Day on the Bay will feature an electric vehicle car show of new, custom designed and converted electric vehicles, a Green Tech Expo featuring exhibits and displays, and accompanied test rides-and-drives of new electric vehicles by area dealerships: the Electric Tour de St. Pete!

About the event
·      When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Saturday, September 12, 2015  Admission is free
·    Where:  Spa Beach Park adjacent to the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg

·     Green Tech Expo Exhibits:  Plug-in vehicles of all kinds including cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and golf carts; manufacturers of supportive electric and solar components and  technology; organizations, clubs and hobbyists with an interest in electric and hybrid vehicles; clubs and community groups; county and city agencies   

·     Electric Vehicle Car Show: Display area in Spa Beach Park

·    Sponsors:  Sierra Club Florida Healthy Air Campaign, City of St. Petersburg.

Sponsorships Available*
Cost:  $100 Your company’s logo on all promotional and marketing material, one free booth space
Vendor Fees*   $50 for-profit vendors/free for non-profit vendors and display vehicles   
Table and two chairs will be supplied; you must provide your own canopy.
 Planned marketing and media exposure will include posters, flyers, newspaper, radio, television, social media.
  

* Submission of application is no guarantee of acceptance. Sierra Club reserves the right to deny sponsor and vendor requests. For more information, please contact Sierra Club Senior Organizing Representative Phil Compton at 727-824-8814 ext. 303 or phil.compton@sierraclub.org


Friday, July 17, 2015

Sierra Club Comments on Expansion of Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant



June 22, 2015

Cindy Bladey
Chief, Rules, Announcements, and Directives Branch
Division of Administrative Services
Office of Administration
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555-000

Megan Clouser
Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Miami Permits Section
9900 SW 107th Ave., Ste. 203
Miami, FL 33176


Re: Comments on Turkey Point Expansion, NRC-2009-0337, 2009-02417 (SP-MLC)


Dear Ms. Bladey and Ms. Clouser:

The Sierra Club appreciates this opportunity to submit comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Combined Licenses (COLs) for Turkey Point Units 6 & 7. Our members are FPL rate payers, recreational users of nearby surface waters and lands, users of drinking water from subsurface aquifers serving Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Our members live within the evacuation area of Turkey Point, throughout the state of Florida and the United States.

The undersigned urge you to reject the application and choose the No Action alternative.

The controversial nuclear era began on the shores of Biscayne Bay in 1967 when the first of two reactors were constructed by Florida Power and Light. Even before the construction of Units 3 and 4, major problems surfaced. FPL originally planned to send its hot waste water from the reactors directly into the Bay, which was already showing harmful effects from FPL’s oil-fired generator on sea grass habitat and marine life in the U.S.’s first continental underwater national park, Biscayne
National Park. After fierce objections and legal action, FPL built in 1974 a system of “cooling canals” so massive it could be seen from space. The canals were cut through the sensitive coastal wetlands inhibiting fresh water flow the Bay and destroying important coastal wetland.

Environmental and technical problems have taken its toll on the machines built more than 40 years ago. The most recent problems threaten the continued viability of the reactors as well as the prospects for more. Rising temperatures and a boost of power have caused algae to fill the canals, and threaten to clog the system unless even more water can be brought in from the Everglades. In 2014, summer temperatures routinely climbed above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Now a giant saline plume containing radioactive elements has formed underneath the plant and is drifting west, threatening the water supply for the Florida Keys.

Florida Power and Light seeks to add two additional reactors to this location. The new reactors would not be immune from the underlying environmental and logistical problems affecting the existing reactors, in fact, they would exacerbate them. While there is a litany of concerns about the four reactors, an overwhelming factor against their future viability is climate change. According to government agencies, sea level rise will inundate the Turkey Point site within the lifetime of the proposed reactors. There can be no fair analysis that does not take into effect climate change on the
entire Turkey Point site: hotter water temperatures, significant sea level rise, increase storm surge and more severe hurricanes.

The clustering effect of four reactors in one coastal at-risk location, similar to the clustering of reactors at Fukishima is very worrisome. Should a disaster strike, there is a possibility multiple reactors will be impacted at once, considerably reducing FPL’s ability to isolate and contain the damage.

The new reactors are planned to be built on nearby mined limestone further destroying the critical wetlands surrounding them, not only important for the health of Biscayne National Park, but crucial to the community’s first line of defense against hurricane impacts. Mined pits also increase the likelihood of contamination of the Biscayne aquifer.

We are also concerned about the new radial wells and their impact on groundwater supplies and salinity levels.

Even if FPL were to elevate the new reactors with limestone rock fill, they still cannot escape the impacts of sea level rise, storm surge, increased salinization, higher water tables, and increased severity of storms. These impacts will negatively affect plant access, operation, transmission and safe storage of nuclear waste.

Because of time and stark changes to the climate, the nuclear era on Biscayne Bay and in Florida is nearing its end. Solar, which accounts for one tenth of a percent of Florida’s power, is ripe for massive expansion. FPL has indicated its intent to increase its solar generation and can easily produce enough power through this lower cost, safe and renewable technology to meet the needs of residents and businesses.

Turkey Point is located within six miles of two biologically rich natural parks, a state aquatic preserve, a national wildlife refuge, and a wetland habitat preserve. Everglades National Park is recognized as an endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and supports a unique array of ecosystems and wildlife. Biscayne National Park, located directly adjacent to Turkey Point, is one of our largest marine national parks, and home to incredible biodiversity and important marine and wetland habitat that has now enacted no-take zones to save its dwindling fish stocks. Expansion of these reactors will adversely impact these national treasures and severely curtail the public’s use and enjoyment of them.

South Florida’s water supply is a finite, dwindling resource that needs to be conserved in order to support the population. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources.

The $20 billion or more investment in two new reactors would be better spent developing lower cost solar energy. Compared to other forms of power generation, solar photovoltaic (PV) power is leading the cost decline, with solar PV module costs falling 75% since the end of 2009 and the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV falling 50% since 2010. (Source: International Renewable Energy Agency, http://www.irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/IRENA_RE_Power_Costs_2014_report.pdf)

Additionally, President Obama issued an Executive Order 13653 on November 1, 2013 that directs all agencies - federal, state and local - to incorporate sea level rise projections into planning and construction along US coasts (reference: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2013/11/01/executive-order-preparing-united-states-impacts-climate-change).

Had that order been followed, the NRC would have automatically concluded that construction and operation of two additional reactors at Turkey Point, in an area that will be submerged due to sea level rise and to increased storm surges from stronger storms, is untenable and poses an unacceptable risk to a region that is ground zero for sea level rise. It poses an unacceptable risk for the South Florida, the state and the nation.

We are opposed to all nuclear power expansion in Florida, as it is unsafe and non-renewable, taxes limited water supplies. It is unworkable, especially in the age of climate change. Instead of wasting tens of billions of dollars on an unviable Turkey Point project, it’s time for FPL to focus on a far more viable, economical technology in the Sunshine State: solar.

We, therefore, kindly ask that you choose the No Action Alternative.

Sincerely,
Debbie Matthews
Chair
Sierra Club Florida

Jim Teas
Chair
Sierra Club Miami Group

Stephen Mahoney
Conservation Chair
Sierra Club Miami Group

Noel Cleland
Executive Committee Member
Sierra Club Miami Group

John Scott
Chair
Sierra Club Calusa Group

Rhonda Roff
Energy Chair
Sierra Club Calusa Group

Frank Jackalone
Florida Staff Director
Sierra Club

Jonathan Ullman
South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sierra Club Shows its Pride and Patriotism with EV’s

Electric Cars and Solar Powered Electric Boat Featured in Parades


While many Americans took vacation or enjoyed the holiday, the past two weekends were a busy time for the volunteers of the Florida Healthy Air Campaign in Tampa Bay. We got out on the streets to show hundreds of thousands of our neighbors that electric cars, and even electric boats, are now available for sale as fun, safe and quiet alternatives to noisy, expensive cars and boats that pollute as you cruise.
St. Pete Pride is Florida’s largest Pride event, and we’re proud to be part of the business community that hosts it annually.  St. Pete’s 2015 PrideFest was the biggest yet, with ¼ million filling our state office’s home street, Central Avenue, for the annual Saturday night parade. After the Supreme Court decision the day before on marriage equality, our street was the happiest place on Earth.

For the 3rd consecutive year, after our move to the city’s 1st net zero office building a block past the end of the parade, our crew once again had a theme of Freedom from Oil with Green Transportation. But instead of electric cars as we’d featured the previous two years, this time we put the spotlight on a solar powered electric boat! 
Electric Marina owner Nancy Frainetti decorated both the
port and starboard sides with the Club’s logo and the phrase:
“Our PRIDE Shines on SOLAR Powered ELECTRIC Boats”.
 

Our safety monitors kept their solar powered spotlights on this sign throughout the parade as they pointed it out to spectators, getting a thrilled reaction as thousands learned for the first time such a thing existed. We danced on the boat and on the street to songs like The Electric Slide and Electric Avenue, as we waved a rainbow flag off the bow next to our sign: “I HEART Clean Air!

The next day folks who’d attended the parade saw us and a representative of The Electric Marina at our booth at the Pride Street Festival. As passes for free rides on the electric boat on nearby Tampa Bay were given out, we told hundreds to save the date for our September 12 St. Pete Drive Electric On The Bay event, which will take place near the home of The Electric Marina. We’ll include free Ride & Drives with the electric boat along with rides in various EVs provided by local dealerships.

Ready to roll in Temple Terrace with a Volt and a Leaf. 
But it’s hard to stop with just one parade when it’s parade season. The following Saturday our crew joined the Temple Terrace 4th of July Parade with two our EVs capturing folks’ attention there. Temple Terrace, next to Tampa & the University of South Florida, leads the region in policies supporting green transportation options, from making streets safe for bikes, legal for electric golf carts, to installing the region’s first Fast Charge station at City Hall.

Our crew told hundreds of families on the 2 mile route that today is the day to “Declare Your Independence from Oil”. Many told us they had no idea cars like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were available for sale, that they looked so great, and that electric cars are real cars – not just odd little experimental models still impractical for everyday commuting. Our Uncle Sam passed out flyers about St. Pete Drive Electric Day On The Bay. We’re sure some won’t wait for Sept. 12th to go to a nearby dealership and find out how they can get a car that frees them from the tyranny of the gas pump.

Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club National Beyond Oil / Florida Healthy Air Campaign Lead Organizer
1990 Central Avenue    St. Petersburg, FL 33712      phil.compton@sierraclub.org 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How do we cut Big Sugar down to size?

The intention was to pull the curtain back on the sugar industry. We wanted to dig as deep into the muck as we could, in one day, to uncover just how profoundly Big Sugar affects us all.  

Why?  Because after the November 2014 elections, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board’s refusal to buck Big Sugar, and the 2015 Florida Legislative sessions, it became crystal clear that Big Sugar rules Florida (for now).  We need to take a different approach to tackling the stranglehold Big Sugar has on all of us, and the way to begin is to learn as much as possible about the industry's impact on Florida and its citizens.  

Two hundred and fifty seven citizens packed the West Palm Beach Embassy Suites ballroom for over eight hours on June 20.  They not only heard fourteen speakers from a wide variety of disciplines and from each end of the political spectrum, but they also joined the conversation.

The dialogue started with the Founder of The Everglades Trust, Mary Barley's opening remarks recounting her personal, decades-long battle to rein in Big Sugar for the sake of Everglades restoration. 

Dr. Gail Hollander, Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, Author of Raising Cane in the ‘Glades: The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida took attendees on a ride back through history to discover how and why Big Sugar landed in South Florida and more specifically in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Stephen E. Davis III, Ph.D., Wetland Ecologist with The Everglades Foundation detailed the past, present, and future of Everglades restoration, the need to send water south from Lake Okeechobee, and the desperate ecological situation in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Richard Grosso, Director, Environmental and Land Use Law Clinic, Broad Law Center, Nova Southeastern University, gave the crowd a lesson in how Sugar Hill City, a development proposal pursued by U.S. Sugar Corp. and the Hilliard Brothers, is not only a real threat to public safety and the progress of Everglades restoration but also a supreme example of just how powerful Big Sugar is.

The keynote address by Chairman Colley Billie of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians was the highlight of the day. Chairman Billie's deep conviction that water quality in the Everglades must be the top priority, and that we must work together to achieve a high standard of water quality, was impressed upon everyone in the room.  

The subsequent panel, titled “Is Big Sugar Burning Your Lungs,” included Julia Hathaway, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club; Dr. Henrique C├ęsar Santejo Silveira, Molecular Oncology Research Center, Barretos Cancer Hospital, Barretos, SP, Brazil; Jim Stormer, Retired Environmental Administrator,Palm Beach County Health Department; and David Guest, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice, Florida Office.  

All spoke on the subject of the damaging, outdated practice of pre-harvest burning of sugarcane fields in South Florida.  How sugar growers profit at the expense of public health in the EAA was a special point of interest for many attendees.  See here for a more expansive description of the panel's offerings.

Next on the agenda was Wolfram Alderson, Founding Executive Director, Institute for Responsible Nutrition, who had the most "digestible" of all the presentations. Alderson offered the facts on sugar consumption, its role in human health (or lack thereof), its global impact, and the ubiquitous presence of added sugar in the U.S diet.

The final panel covered Big Sugar's political influence and featured our most diverse set of speakers. Daren Bakst, Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy, Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity of The Heritage Foundation, proved to everyone in the room that uncommon partnerships may be the answer; the federal sugar program, anathema to just trade policy and consumer protection policy, is a target of both the left and right ends of the political spectrum.

Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics, brought all the truly disturbing news of just how many Big Sugar dollars make their way into political decisions and election results at the federal level. After all that, she inspired the crowd with her optimism that voters and well-informed citizens can still and must fight back.

Manley Fuller, President of Florida Wildlife Federation, who has seen it all at the state level for decades of the Everglades restoration struggle, brought the formal program to a close.

Last, but certainly not least, was the open microphone at the end of the program where attendees had the opportunity to share ideas, pose questions, and propose next steps.  

Frank Jackalone, Florida Staff Director of the Sierra Club, summed up by noting that the future of our entire state, and not just South Florida, depends on our winning this fight to cut Big Sugar down to size.

For more Big Sugar Summit follow-up, visit and re-visit to this link where photos, presentations, videos and opportunities for further discussion will be posted as they become available.