Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obama Administration Lawsuit Seeks $Billions in Damages from BP

Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet
December 15, 2010

Contact: Kristina Johnson, (415) 977-5619
Holly Shulman, (202) 674-8757

After Biggest Offshore Oil Spill in U.S. History, BP Must Be Held Accountable

Washington, DC - In response to the Department of Justice today filing suit against BP and eight other companies responsible for the Gulf oil spill disaster to recover billions of dollars from the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club issued the following statement:

"We applaud the Obama administration for taking steps to make sure BP pays for the damage it did to the Gulf Coast. BP must be held fully accountable for its recklessness and negligence - and pay the billions of dollars it owes in cleanup costs.

Approximately 200 million gallons escaped from BP’s well, spreading across over 40,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico, oiling over 600 miles of coast and leading to the loss of up to $22.7 billion in tourism over the next three years. BP has a clear responsibility to the communities and lives it has devastated to pay what it owes, so that the Gulf Coast can begin to recover.

This devastating man-made disaster provides a clarion call to move our nation onto clean energy and off of dirty, outdated sources of energy like oil."


Monday, December 13, 2010

Florida DOT 2060 Transportation Plan Needs to Move Forward Now for Green Transportation

Recently the Florida Department of Transportation unveiled their 2060 Transportation Plan designed to address the growing transportation needs of the Sunshine State and Floridians were invited to submit comments. The 2060 Plan identified long range trends and their attendant challenges, outlined their areas of focus; economic competitiveness, community livability and environmental stewardship and six major goals; investment of transportation systems to support a prosperous, globally competitive economy, make transportation decisions to support and enhance livable communities, make transportation decisions to promote responsible environmental stewardship, provide a safe and secure transportation system, maintain and operate Florida’s transportation system proactively and improve mobility and connectivity for people and freight.

While these goals are noteworthy, the plan failed to define specific strategies and a deadline for implementation. We can’t wait fifty years for a better, greener transportation system in Florida. The transportation sector is the second-largest contributor to Florida’s gross greenhouse gas emissions. If we want to reduce global warming, we need to work now not later to reduce these emissions. The Governor’s Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan recommends a set of seven policies that offer the potential for major economic benefits and emission decreases. The Florida 2060 Transportation Plan should be aligned with this plan.

In 2011, a huge wave of baby boomers will be turning 65 years of age and that means more new retirees moving to The Sunshine State.  With this growth will come more vehicular traffic, more highway congestion and more pollution; pollution that will impact the health of our residents as well as the health of our environment.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

EPA Delays New Standards for Ozone & Incinerators

Please read this post by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune for details about EPA's decision to delay setting new national air pollution standards for ozone smog, industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators.

(SCF News Editorial Note: We are grateful to Lisa Jackson's EPA for setting numeric standards for nitrogen and phosphorus in Florida's waters and for standing strong against the polluters lobby that tried to kill those new rules.  But we need cleaner air in Florida, too, with many parts of the state impacted by harmful levels of toxic emissions from solid waste incinerators, power plants, cars and trucks. - Frank Jackalone, Florida Staff Director - Sierra Club)

Time to Keep Fighting, Mr. President
Has someone discovered a way to travel back in time to the Bush administration? On Tuesday, the EPA asked for a one-year delay on new rules for air pollution from industrial boilers. The very next day, the agency announced it wants to wait for another half year before setting new standards for ozone smog. Both actions defy every kind of logic but one -- pandering to polluters and their scare-mongering political allies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gulf Coast Family Businesses Join Sierra Club to Say: 'We’re Worth 3 Times More Than All the Oil You Could Drill For In The Gulf'

Kathleen McDole, President of the Friendly Fisherman restaurant at Madeira Beach's John's Pass Village, explains
why she opposes oil & gas drilling in the eastern Gulf as her siblings, Mark Hubbard and Patricia Hubbard, look on.

In the long debate over offshore drilling, the oil industry and some policy makers have claimed that our tax base and coastal jobs rely on expanding oil and gas drilling to new places. However, one critical set of issues has largely been ignored: the potentially devastating economic losses that new offshore drilling could create for our existing coastal economies and the undeniably real potential for damage to our treasured coasts and marine resources.

Today Sierra Club and Environment Florida released a new report,
"Too Much At Stake: Don't Gamble With Our Coasts" that objectively quantifies the relative value of our current coastal assets: coastal tourism, real estate and recreational and commercial fishing, and compares it to the estimated value of oil and gas reserves in the eastern Gulf. The report documents that on Florida’s Gulf Coast, these existing sustainable businesses are worth 3 times more than all the oil & gas we ever could drill for in the eastern Gulf. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

House and Senate Powering Up

The elections are over and important environmental policies will soon be decided.  This is a brief on some of the legislators who will wield influence on issues important to Sierra Club Florida

The House Rules (pp. 6-22) and Senate Rules empower Speaker Cannon and President Haridopolos to exercise control over the legislative process.  They appoint chairmen and name the members of committees and subcommittees in their chambers.  They refer bills to all the committees they must pass in order to come to a vote on the floor.  And for the first time, both leaders have the power of adding an extra vote in any committee by sending in an ex officio member.  President Haridopolos is the first Senate leader to import this practice from the House which has done it for years. 

Since Chairs of committees have the power of the agenda – whether a bill gets heard or not – they too control the prospects of a bill.  Not surprisingly, both Speaker Cannon and President Haridopolos have appointed members who are largely in sympathy with their stated aims to the most important chairmanships. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Letters to the Editor needed on a state transportation plan that moves us beyond oil now

Last month the Florida Department of Transportation sought comments from Floridians on their 2060 Florida Transportation Plan; a plan that would impact us for the next 50 years. To generate citizen input, Sierra Club sent out an action alert to club members statewide and the response was overwhelming…over 1,100 people sent a strong message; that long-range transportation planning needs to provide Floridians with transportation choices that reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas pollution.

Now we need to go one step further and raise public awareness and support of this shared vision. Sierra Club is urging residents of The Sunshine State to submit letters to the editor of their local papers saying that Floridians support greening transportation infrastructure starting today.  People need to be informed that FDOT must move forward immediately on a state transportation plan that moves us beyond oil.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cape Coral Adopts Fertilizer Ordinance At Last

On Monday night, November 29, 2010, the Cape Coral City Council unanimously adopted a fertilizer ordinance, after two years of lobbying efforts by volunteers and staff.   Cape Coral was the last municipality in Lee County to pass such an ordinance and its adoption was significant. The Cape has 400 miles of canals and those waterways impact the Caloosahatchee River.

Twenty ordinance supporters were in attendance; including Cape Coral homeowners, members of the business community as well as members of the Cape Coral  Friends of Wildlife, Calusa Group of Sierra Club, Sierra Club staff, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

White House Finally Says NO to Drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast (for 7 years)

40,000 Floridians joined hands in June to ask the White House to keep oil drilling far from our shores.
Apparently the President was listening after all.


BREAKING NEWS (and it's Good!)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The White House won't allow any new oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least the next seven years because of the BP oil spill. A senior administration official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that drilling leases won't be considered in the waters off Florida as part of the change. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn't been announced yet. He said that because of the BP spill, the administration now understands the need to elevate safety and environmental standards. Before the spill, the administration had considered a plan to allow drilling in the eastern Gulf. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to discuss the decision later Wednesday afternoon.

We're thrilled that the Obama Administration has recognized that allowing risky new oil drilling off Florida's Gulf Coast would be economic suicide for our state's $65 billion coastal tourism economy that employs almost 1 million Floridians.
Florida, with its large commercial fleet and America’s largest recreational fishing industry, would be at risk; suffering the same ecological degradation and work stoppages that Central Gulf fisherman must still endure. Florida's Gulf Coast's sustainable coastal dependent businesses have a total economic value of $54.4 billion and employ 777,000 Floridians. We’re glad the White House has correctly judged the risks to our state's economy to be too high.