Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Please Help Support Florida Forever - Oppose Senate Bill 584

Sierra Club Florida

Friends of Florida,

Legislators need to hear from you about the importance of Florida Forever and Public Lands.

We have our work cut out for us this session when it comes to preserving and protecting conservation lands.

Senate Bill 584 by Senator Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) would require an acre of state or local public lands to be disposed of for every new acre protected. The effect of this bill would be to bring Florida Forever and local land preservation programs to a halt.

There is reason for concern when many legislators have the belief that Florida has too much conservation land. We do not want this belief to transcend into budget discussions and threaten funding for Florida Forever. We know the passion is out there for our special places.

Now is the time to mobilize our public lands advocates.  Please call, email and write letters now!

House Agriculture & Natural Resources
Appropriations Subcommittee

 •Rep. Albritton, Ben [R]  Chair
 •Rep. Broxson, Doug [R]  Vice Chair
 •Rep. Pafford, Mark S. [D]
 •Rep. Beshears, Halsey [R]
 •Rep. Danish, Mark [D]
 •Rep. Edwards, Katie A. [D]
 •Rep. Ingram, Clay [R]
 •Rep. Mayfield, Debbie [R]
 •Rep. Raschein, Holly [R]
 •Rep. Smith, Jimmie T. [R]
 •Rep. Stewart, Linda [D]
 •Rep. Van Zant, Charles E. [R]
 •Rep. Watson, Jr., Clovis [D]

Senate General Government Appropriations

 •Senator Alan Hays (R)Chair
 •Senator Geri Thompson (D) Vice Chair
 •Senator Rob Bradley (R)
 •Senator Oscar Braynon, II (D)
 •Senator Dwight Bullard (D)
 •Senator Charlie Dean, Sr. (R)
 •Senator Nancy C. Detert (R)
 •Senator Arthenia L. Joyner (D)
 •Senator Jack Latvala (R)
 •Senator John Legg (R)
 •Senator Wilton Simpson (R)
 •Senator Darren Soto (D)
 •Senator Kelli Stargel (R)

We should not let those who don't believe in the value of conservation lands be the only voice talking to their legislators.

Pick up the phone and politely tell the members of General Governor Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Natural Resources & Agriculture Subcommittee that you care deeply about our public lands - tell them about your favorite park, forest, beach or conservation area!  After that, post photos of your favorite outing in Florida up on your facebook page, tell all your friends about opposing this bill!  Get the word out!

Thank you for all that you do!  Florida Forever thanks you, and so does Sierra Club Florida.

Sierra ClubSierra Club Florida
1990 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33712



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Everglades and Sea Level Rise: The clock is ticking

Photo courtesy of Greg Ceo.
How much time do we have to restore the Everglades? That question has been difficult to answer until recently. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, by the time today's child sees middle age, at least one-fourth to one-half of Everglades National Park’s land mass will have vanished. Many geoscientists, like Dr. Harold Wanless of the University of Miami, project an even greater rate of sea-level rise this century. Sea-level rise is no joke, and it’s particularly serious for the Everglades with elevation generally measured in the single digits.

   At the Everglades Coalition conference in January, Ernie Barnett, the South Florida Water Management District’s point person on Everglades Restoration, said that restoring the Everglades fresh water flow would “mitigate the effects of sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion.” But what does mitigation mean? Can we keep the Everglades from sinking into the sea?

   The answer rests in a complex set of circumstances: maintaining a freshwater aquifer and a hydrological head (the pressure of freshwater flowing south), and reversing soil subsidence (the sinking of the land due to drought), in concert with a world that has reduced carbon emissions.
   What is clear is that doing nothing or doing it too slowly will result in the loss of the southern Everglades in less than five decades. What we can and must do is to let nature resume control of water flow by removing barriers like the Tamiami Trail, the Miami Canal and the L-67 canals, while cleaning up Big Sugar’s effluent to Everglades standards. 

   There has been some progress:

• A new federal project seeks to eliminate many barriers to flow in the Central Everglades and restore sheet flow by eliminating canals. It’s not a panacea, but it’s a solid first step.
• A federally-funded mile-long bridge over Tamiami Trail to restore water flow is slated to open this spring and another 5.5 miles of bridging is planned. The next 2.6-mile span is now being designed by the National Park Service.
• The Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge has a foothold and now can be expanded to protect critical ranch lands surrounding the Kissimmee River.

   There have also been some setbacks:

• Although the state of Florida and the federal government agreed to a plan to clean up Big Sugar’s water, it takes too long and doesn't use enough land.
• The state just issued 30-year sugar lease extensions on land most likely needed for cleanup.
• The state has been trying to sell off land needed for Everglades restoration.
• The state wants to resume the backpumping of sugar effluent into Lake Okeechobee instead of treating it and sending it south for the Everglades.
• Florida Power and Light continues to seek permission for two nuclear reactors (added to two existing reactors) in an area most vulnerable to sea-level rise and requiring towering transmission lines through wetlands.

   In the end, the Everglades restoration timetable has to beat the physics of sea-level rise. Rapidly restoring natural, clean fresh water flow will preserve the Everglades as long as possible. Whether we can win the battle or sustain a century-long retreat is not yet clear, but we must do everything possible to let natural processes take over. It’s our only hope. 

—  Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades Senior Representative, Sierra Club

Everglades 1995 baseline

2 ft. sea level rise

4 ft. sea level rise

5 ft. sea level rise
Sea level rise images courtesy of Dr. Harold Wanless, Chair, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Miami. 

Take Action
Contact the decision makers below and ask them to:
• Support and fully fund the National Park Service’s 5.5 mile Tamiami Trail bridging project.
• Support further sugar land acquisition and speed up clean up.
 Support the Central Everglades Planning Project.

U.S. Sen. Bill
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio202.224.3041, go to web page
Find your U.S representative at



Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States
National Climate Assessment, December 2012
National Oceanic and Atmosphic Administration

Saturday, February 23, 2013

ALERT: Oil drilling in Blackwater River State Forest on agenda this Monday!



Town Hall Meeting in Jay, Florida
Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:30 p.m.
at the Jay Community Center
5259 Booker Lane, Jay, FL

Representative Doug Broxson withdrew his bill HB 431 Development of Oil and Gas Resources on Wednesday which would have allowed oil exploration and development in the Blackwater River State Forest in northwest Florida near Pensacola.  

That’s something to cheer about, but his town hall meeting set for this Monday to discuss drilling in Blackwater makes us wonder whether Rep. Broxson and the Scott Administration are looking for a way to introduce the proposal again.

According to news reports,  Rep. Broxson announced half-heartedly the withdrawal of his bill, saying “I believe that we should have further discussion about how the leases in Blackwater are determined and managed, but in light of the misinformation about this bill, it is probably best to take the legislation off the table until we can have a more public conversation to address the facts.”

That doesn’t sound like he’s yielded to the court of public opinion.

In fact, Rep. Broxson plans to go forward with a town hall meeting to discuss drilling at Blackwater at 5:30 pm this Monday, February 25th at the Jay Community Center at 5259 Booker Lane in Jay, Florida.  Representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Florida Forest Service will be present at Broxson’s request to “provide information and answer questions regarding the issue of oil drilling on state lands.” 


1) Please call Representative Broxson on Monday to thank him for withdrawing his bill and urge him to join you as an opponent of oil drilling at Blackwater River State Forest:

     Representative Doug Broxson:
     Capitol Office - Tallahassee   Phone: (850) 717-5003
     District Offices - Milton(850) 626-3113;  Gulf Breeze(850) 916-5436

2) Carpool over to the meeting in Jay on Monday and let Representative Broxson and members of the Scott Administration know how you feel about the proposal to drill for oil and gas at Blackwater River State Forest.   

Local activists in northwest Florida did a great job educating the public about the threat of drilling in Blackwater River State Forest and building opposition to it.  See their Facebook page here:   Now they need help from Sierra Club and our members to stop this proposal from resurfacing in Tallahassee.

HB 431 – R.I.P.
Here are the facts about HB 431 – withdrawn on 2-19-13 by its sponsor Representative Doug Braxson: 
  1. The bill would have exposed the Blackwater River State Forest to at least 3 years of seismic testing (explosions), exploratory and production drilling, drilling platforms and pollution, increased traffic and disturbance of wildlife, and if oil is found – more CO2 pollution.  And that’s if all goes according to plan.  If there’s a spill, it will be even worse!   (This bill is not good for black bears.)
  2. HB 431 would have set a terrible precedent for the proper use of our State Parks system.  And it even goes so far as to ensure oil drillers get a better deal than the state. 
  3. The bill did an end-run around three sections of law that provide protections for the state in its dealings with lands and their exploitation.  The following describes some of the gifts to the oil and gas industry made possible by the end-run: 
  • The Board of Trustees (the Governor and Cabinet) would no longer have the  discretion to designate blocks, tracts, or parcels – the process would be driven by industry.
  • There would be no requirement for competitive bidding (Currently sealed bids are required to give the state the best chance at a decent price for its lands.)
  • There would be no requirement for an advertised public hearing before any block, tract, or parcel is leased for development within a radius of 3 miles of any incorporated city or town, or within a 3 mile radius of any bathing beach or beaches outside of an incorporated city or town
  • There would be no requirement that the Board of Trustees consider comments made at a public hearing
  • The Board of Trustees would have no authority to reject bids or to withdraw the land from market or to refuse to execute a lease or leases if it considers it/them contrary to the public welfare.
  • The Board of Trustees would lose its discretion to set a royalty (never less than one eighth) in kind or in value, and would also lose its current guarantee of a definite and, after the first two years, increasing rent on lands not developed for, or not yet worked to produce, oil or gas.

Sierra Club Florida believes the Legislature should be looking for new sources of energy that are renewable, don’t contribute to climate disruption and rising sea levels, and that don’t threaten our state forests with pollution.  It’s the best way to reduce dependence on foreign oil and create jobs!

Together we can protect this Florida treasure!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

South Florida Citizens Demand Rubio Support Climate Action

Floridians Delivering A Letter to Senator Marco Rubio Demanding Climate Action
In recent months, Senator Marco Rubio has consistently denied that one of the most pressing crises facing Florida families even exists. Just last week, Senator Rubio made the latest in a string of ridiculous comments about climate disruption, telling a group of Washington reporters that he wasn’t doing anything to fix the climate crisis. What’s more, he doesn’t even think this crisis – with its rising sea levels, devastating storms, and extreme weather – poses a danger to Florida.
On behalf of the homeowners, business owners, and residents of Florida who are in the path of the storm of climate change, concerned citizens gathered at Rubio’s office in Miami today to tell him enough is enough.
Rubio’s continued climate denial comes as just before he delivers the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. It’s an opportunity when he can address some of the most pressing challenges our nation is confronted with – but it will mean nothing if he doesn’t stop ignoring one of the most urgent problems we face: the climate crisis.
Sierra Club Members and Other Activists Meeting with Staff from Senator Rubio's Office
That’s exactly the message Sierra Club members delivered to Rubio today in a letter also signed by representatives from the Southern Energy Network, the CLEO Institute, and Emerge Miami.
Rubio once shrugged off a question on climate disruption, claiming he wasn't a scientist. That's exactly why he should listen to the people who are - and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who say the climate crisis is real and it is very very dangerous.
Warning after warning has been issued about what will happen if we don't act.
A study commissioned by four Southeast Florida counties (Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties) warned that our communities are immediately vulnerable to the sea level changes climate disruption will bring. Our infrastructure, our homes, and our businesses are in the path of the storm.
And the storms will be bad ones – professors from across the state warn that we can expect faster, stronger, and more dangerous storms because of the climate crisis.
If Rubio doesn't want to listen to the experts, he should just pay attention to the weather. That's all the evidence you need to see that the threat of climate change has become a dangerous new reality.
Record droughts, record floods, record blizzards, record wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy – once-in-a-lifetime extreme weather is the new normal.
The climate crisis is not something that's in a laboratory – its on our doorstep. And Florida 's right in the path of the worst we could face.
That's why our communities are spending taxpayer money to prepare for this new reality. That's why businesses, homeowners, and residents are worried sick about what's next for our homes and livelihoods. And that's why recent polling shows 76% of Floridians want our elected officials to DO SOMETHING to find a solution.
Today, Floridians representing those voices throughout the state took their message directly to Marco Rubio to say we don't want a future where the world our children inherit is worse off because we fell asleep at the switch. We need action and we need our leaders to lead, not pretend there isn't a problem.
Marco Rubio should stop pretending the science isn't settled. He should stop ignoring the threats that are now real. And he should join the overwhelming majority of those in his state who know that the time to act on the climate crisis is now.
Floridians get it. Why doesn't Marco Rubio?
--Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club, South Florida/Everglades Senior Field Organizer

Monday, February 11, 2013

30 Celebrities Urge President Obama to Take Action on Climate Disruption

Sierra Club Press Release


February 11, 2013

Morgan Freeman, Adam Levine, Elle Macpherson, and More Join Sierra Club in Urging President Obama to Take Action on Climate Disruption 

Support Forward on Climate Rally on February 17

WASHINGTON DC -- Today the Sierra Club released a letter from 30 notable entertainment and environmental leaders, calling on President Obama to cement his legacy by addressing climate disruption during his second term.

In a letter to the President, the group wrote,“Your legacy as 44th president of the United States rests firmly on your leadership on climate disruption. Only the president has the power to lead an effort on the scale and with the urgency we need to phase out fossil fuels and lead America, and the world, in a clean energy revolution.”

Those that signed the letter include:
  • Adam Levine
  • Alec Baldwin
  • Alicia Silverstone
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Darren Aronofsky
  • Edward Norton
  • Edward James Olmos
  • Elle Macpherson
  • Evangeline Lilly
  • Ian Somerhalder
  • Jack Johnson
  • Jason Mraz
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus
  • Incubus
  • Linkin Park
  • Malin Akerman
  • Michael Franti
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Ozomatli
  • Phillipe Cousteau
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Russell Simmons
  • Susan Sarandon
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Yoko Ono

The letter is the latest effort leading up to the Forward on Climate rally on February 17 in Washington DC, set to be the largest climate rally in the history of the United States.

The letter to President Obama was published as a full page ad in Monday’s issue of The Hill newspaper.
To view the letter, click here.

Celebrity Climate Letter.png


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sierra Club Response to Marco Rubio’s Climate Denial

View as web page

Sierra Club Press Release
For Immediate Release                                     Contact:  Trey Pollard, (202) 495-3058
February 7, 2013
Sierra Club Response to Marco Rubio’s Climate Denial 
Washington, DC – On Tuesday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) rejected what he termed the “significant scientific consensus” of man-made climate disruption and  turned his back on the idea of acting to address the climate crisis.
Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone Issued the Following Statement in Response: 
In the last few years, extreme weather has seriously damaged Florida’s infrastructure and sea level rise is projected to make it far worse. Local governments are developing regional plans to deal with rising seas. Mangled sidewalks in Ft. Lauderdale and flooded streets in Miami Beach are the visible proof that climate change is here.  But, Marco Rubio says he won't do anything about our climate crisis.
We cannot afford to sit idly while the threat of climate change becomes a dangerous reality. By denying the climate crisis and rejecting climate action, Marco Rubio’s got his head buried in the sand – and that’s a bad place to be when the seas are rising.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Nomination of Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior

Sierra Club Press Release

For Immediate Release    
February 6, 2013     

Sierra Club Statement on Nomination of Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior  

(Washington, DC) – Today, President Obama will reportedly nominate REI CEO Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior.

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

“Whether it’s been through her work to get more kids outside or her accomplishments in building a business that recognizes the passion Americans have to explore the outdoors, Sally Jewell has demonstrated that she knows just how important our wild places are to our national legacy and our economy.

"There are few more outspoken or dedicated champions in the effort to connect children with nature than Sally Jewell, who has provided critical support to the Sierra Club Inner City Outings program and played an integral role in founding the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

"In Jewell, President Obama chose a leader with a demonstrated commitment to preserving the higher purposes public lands hold for all Americans – recreation, adventure, and enjoyment. We look forward to working closely with her to preserve more of those benefits and more of our natural heritage by designating new national monuments, protecting America’s Arctic from risky drilling, and keeping dirty and dangerous fracking out of our public lands.”


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tell the EPA: Don't hand control of Clean Water Act to Gov. Scott & DEP!

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

Dear Friend,

EPA yes FDEP no
Take Action!
Last November, the EPA adopted strong standards to combat sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution in Florida's waterways. These rules will save our waters from the toxic slime that puts our drinking water, economy, and precious ecosystems at risk. However, pressure is mounting from Governor Rick Scott and his Big Polluter pals to turn control over to the state’s industry-controlled agency.
We rallied on January 17 in Tampa to give the EPA the support it needs to stay strong, and now we need to get our demands on the record.
Right now, the EPA plans to hand over the regulation of 15 percent of Florida's waterways to Rick Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection. The state's rules are far weaker, and wait too long to be enforced -- only after a water body is already polluted with slime -- and do not include a timeline for clean-up action. We need the stronger EPA standard to ensure our water is protected.
Even worse, if we don’t act now, the EPA is likely to hand protection of the rest of our water over to Rick Scott as well. That's a risk we can’t take.
Together, we’ll ensure that the EPA stands strong and doesn’t cave to polluter pressure. Our water and our way of life is at stake.
Thanks for all you do for the environment,
Frank Jackalone
Sierra Club
P.S. The more comments we send, the louder our voice. Share this message with your friends and family today.
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Sierra ClubSierra Club Florida Office
1990 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33712