Friday, September 27, 2013

Check Out an Electric Car this Weekend!

By Michael Marx, Sierra Club Beyond Oil Campaign Director

This weekend the third annual National Plug in Day celebrates surging electric car sales at more than 90 events. Today, less than three years after electric vehicles arrived on the mass market, more than 130,000 Americans are driving EVs. With more than a dozen models now on the road, EV sales have been rising by about 200 percent a year.
Ever wondered what it's like to drive an electric car? Ever wanted to talk to someone who is not a car dealer about how these cars are charged, and which cars are the most reliable or lowest in emissions? Want to hear how 130,000 Americans like the electric cars they are already driving daily? National Plug In Day events will take place Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29 across the United States, plus Amsterdam and Mexico City. The fact is, people who are already driving electric cars love them and want to show them off. More than 1,700 EV drivers have already signed up to participate at these events nationwide, and thousands more of the EV-curious will attend, too. You can register for an event near you here.
The events will vary. In Philadelphia, U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah will speak to the crowd and test drive an electric car for himself. In Las Vegas, event participants will be treated to a solar EV charging canopy. In Seattle, speed enthusiasts will drag race their EVs. In Long Beach, CA, upwards of 200 electric vehicles are expected to be available for viewing and test drives, and the mayor will issue a proclamation in honor of the day and local EV leaders. In Amsterdam, the E-Challenge will roll out more than 250 EVs through its city center.
Heard buzz about BMW's i3 electric car scheduled to go on the market next spring? Organizers of the Tucson, Arizona, Plug In Day event have been selected to feature one of only a handful of these pre-production beauties at their event. The organizers of the Baltimore event will get to share information about EVs and raffle off an EV charger cord at a booth at Camden Yards during an Orioles-Red Sox game.
The Sierra Club has teamed up with Plug In America, the Electric Auto Association, and dozens of local groups to organize National Plug In Day. In addition to biking, public transit, and other greener transportation alternatives, the Sierra Club is committed to promoting a shift to electric vehicles as one important way to reduce emissions, slash our dependence on oil, and save families money at the fuel pump. The Sierra Club's new interactive online EV Guide allows visitors to type in their zip code and find how the EV of their choice compares in emissions to a comparable conventional vehicle (based on the region's electricity sources), what EV incentives exist in their state, how much money they will save in fuel, and what EVs are for sale in their area. It also includes regular newsy blog posts.
We hope to see you this weekend at a National Plug In Day event. Sooner than later, you may be showing off your electric car, too.
Note for Florida: Sierra Club is helping to organize 3 events in Florida cities, including Sarasota, Orlando and Temple Terrace. See you there! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Duke Energy to Delay Clean Energy Development, Keep Sending Energy Dollars out of Florida

View this press release online:

September 26, 2013
CONTACT: Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 281-6398,

Duke Energy to Delay Clean Energy Development, Keep Sending Energy Dollars out of Florida
St. Petersburg, FL – Duke Energy issued a request for proposals yesterday seeking options to generate electricity to replace the nuclear generators at the Crystal River plant.  Duke Energy also operates two aging and obsolete coal-fired generators at the plant, and the utility has told state regulators it plans to phase out these coal units sometime before 2020, as the units are now too expensive to operate and require substantial upgrades. The Sierra Club has filed expert comments to state regulators arguing that Duke Energy can, and should, phase out these coal units faster and replace them with clean energy solutions like energy efficiency and solar power.

In response to Duke Energy’s announcement, Julia Hathaway, Sierra Club Beyond Coal representative in Florida, issued the following statement:
"Duke Energy has taken a strong step in planning to phase out coal burning units at its Crystal River Power Plant before 2020, but the company’s new request for proposals to replace the power is a step in the wrong direction.
Duke Energy relies too heavily on natural gas power for Florida, and as with coal, burning natural gas for power sends Florida’s energy dollars out of state. If natural gas prices increase at some point over the next few years, power prices will also go up, hurting Florida’s economy.
The Sierra Club calls on Duke Energy to replace the Crystal River coal units with affordable clean energy as quickly as possible. Florida has some of the world’s highest solar power potential, yet solar represents less than one percent of Duke Energy’s electricity production here. That’s shameful and inadequate.
Florida also has significant potential to save money and meet energy demand through large-scale energy savings programs. In other states, Duke Energy is investing more in energy savings too. There’s a pattern here: Duke Energy is bringing more clean energy solutions online in other states and leaving Florida behind. It’s time to move beyond business as usual and invest in Florida in a positive way that supports our families and economy."


Save the Date! Citizen's Clean Water Summit 11/16!


Without a doubt it is the springs, estuaries, rivers, lakes, bays, and coasts that define Florida. Yet from Wakulla Springs to the Caloosahatchee River to the Indian River Lagoon to Biscayne Bay the quality of our state's water is in serious trouble.

We need unified state action and Saturday, November 16th in Orlando is a day you are not going to want to miss.

Mark your calenders now for the Citizen's Clean Water Summit.

All water quality activists and champions from across the state are invited to join.  This is our opportunity to come together to create a unified state movement and action plan to protect Florida's #1 prized jewel: Our Water.

When: Saturday November 16th 9 am-5 pm
Where: University of Central Florida Fairwinds Alumni Center, 12676 Gemini Blvd. North, Orlando, FL 32816
Why: We need unified state planning and action to demand and win clean water.
More details to follow soon.

For more info or to RSVP contact or 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter to Governor Scott: Complete the purchase of U.S. Sugar lands before the exclusive option expires next month

September 23, 2013

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Scott,

On behalf of afflicted coastal residents, South Florida taxpayers and millions of people whose drinking water depends on a restored Everglades, we call on the State of Florida to complete the purchase of up to 153,000 acres of U.S. Sugar lands before the exclusive option expires next month.

Five years ago, the South Florida Water Management District announced it would purchase 187,000 acres of U.S. Sugar’s land south of Lake Okeechobee to restore clean water to the Everglades and provide relief to coastal estuaries. On October 12, 2010, the District closed on a contract to purchase 26,800 acres of land for $197 million, while retaining a three-year exclusive option for the rest.

The state’s exclusive 3-year option -- to purchase either a specifically identified 46,800 acres or the entire 153,000 acres at a fixed price of $7,400 per acre -- will expire next month forcing the state to pay market prices for the land and compete with other buyers.

On November 18, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Sugar purchase “serves the public purpose of conserving and protecting water and water-related resources.”
Never before has that public purpose been more evident. Coastal estuaries served by the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers are collapsing along with their local economies. While short-term solutions can provide limited relief, the permanent solution is to send more water south to the Everglades by buying more sugar land to store, clean and eventually flow water south.

The purchase of U.S. Sugar lands before October 12, 2013, represents the most cost-efficient method for storing, treating and moving water south. We strongly urge you to make the investment in Florida’s future at a price that may never come again.


Frank Jackalone
Senior Staff Manager
Sierra Club

Jennifer Hecker
Director of Natural Resource Policy
Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Manley Fuller
President and CEO
Florida Wildlife Federation

Mark Perry
Executive Director
Florida Oceanographic Society

Rae Ann Wessel
Natural Resource Policy Director
Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation

Kathleen E. Aterno
Florida Director
Clean Water Action

Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Conservation
Save the Manatee Club

Sandy Gilbert
(Solutions To Avoid Red Tide)

Michael J. Holsinger
Holsinger Horticultural Services

Russ Hoffman
Beautiful Ponds

Carol Leonard
Board of Directors
Coastal Wildlife Club, Inc.

Terry Brant
Legislative/Legal Affairs Chairman
Florida Water Conservation Trust

American Health Trust

Island Aeromarine Services

Linda Young
Florida Clean Water Network

Burton Eno PhD, PE (ret)
Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.

Donna Melzer
Martin County Conservation Alliance

Dan Hilliard
W.A.R., Inc.

Kings Bay Springs Alliance

Peter Anderson
Chairman, President and CEO

Karen Fraley, CIG
Sarasota Bay Guardians Coordinator
Around the Bend Nature Tours LLC

John McCabe
Ding Darling Wildlife Society

Alexis Segal
Executive Director
Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper

Mike Chenoweth
Florida Division of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Florida Keys Chapter of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Pamela Pierce
Cypress Chapter of the
Izaak Walton League of America

Michael Orchin
Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife

Laurie Macdonald
Director, Florida Programs
Defenders of Wildlife

Matthew Schwartz
Executive Director
South Florida Wildlands Association

John Marshall
Arthur R. Marshall Foundation

Alan Farago
Friends of the Everglades

Karja Hansen
Urban Environment League

Charles Pattison
1000 Friends of Florida

John Adornato III
Sun Coast Regional Director
National Parks Conservation Association

Debbie Matthews
Sierra Club Florida

Elinor Williams
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall
Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge 

Steve Brodkin
Concerned Citizens of
Bayshore Community, Inc.

Charles Sobczak
Lee Reefs

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Florida Ranks Third for Global Warming Pollution from Power Plants

For Immediate Release: September 11th, 2013

Contact: Jennifer Rubiello, (818) 203-7625,

On the heels of increasingly severe weather events, a new report from Environment Florida Research & Policy Center finds that Florida ranks third in the country for most carbon pollution from power plants, the state’s largest single source of global warming pollution. Scientists predict that extreme weather events will become more frequent and severe for future generations without action to reduce the carbon pollution fueling the problem.

The report, titled ‘America’s Dirtiest Power Plants,’ comes as the Obama administration readies a new set of rules to tackle global warming. It illustrates the scale of carbon pollution from Florida’s power sector and ranks Florida’s biggest carbon polluters.

Key findings from the report include:

-Florida’s power plants are the 3rd most polluting in the country.

-In Florida, the top five most polluting power plants are Crystal River, Big Bend, West County Energy Center, Seminole, and St. John’s River Power Park.

-Florida’s power plants are its single largest source of carbon pollution - responsible for 49 percent of statewide emissions.

-Duke Energy’s (formerly Progress Florida Energy Inc.) Crystal River Plant is the 44th most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation.

-Florida’s power plants produce as much carbon each year as nearly 25 million cars.

This summer, President Obama directed his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution. In a major step, the EPA is expected to propose an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants on September 20.

To read the full report, go to:

Opposition to Oil Drilling Heats Up in South Florida

(c) Alexis Meyer
Sierra Club’s Florida Panther Critical Habitat Campaign is partnering with Preserve our Paradise to stop an exploratory oil well in Golden Gate Estates in Naples. The proposed well site is on 5 acres of agricultural land but is located within 1,000 feet of residences, and one mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. The Texas-based drilling company, the Dan A. Hughes corporation, has leased an additional 115,000 acres of land, with the potential for more exploratory wells, though no permit requests have been submitted.

(c) Alexis Meyer
Collier County residents have been fighting hard to prevent the permitting of this well. More than 100 people recently participated in a protest at the Naples Pier erecting a symbolic oil well in front of Governor Rick Scott's beachfront home. 

We have also petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a public hearing on the matter. We are awaiting a response.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held an "open house" style meeting last week for concerned citizens.  The meeting was poorly executed, however - no one able to hear questions or answers, crowding around tables, officials unable to answer questions - leaving citizens feeling ignored and frustrated. As a result of this meeting, DEP said they will not make a decision on whether to approve the permit or not by the original September 30th deadline. However, they will issue a "notice of intent" to issue or deny the permit, which will open up another round of public comments with a deadline of 21 days after the notice of intent. 

 The proposed oil wells are located in panther primary habitat –land essential for the panther’s continued existence. Numerous panthers have been sighted within Golden Gate Estates, and the project site is within 1 mile of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and north of Picayune Strand State Forest and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, considered the “Amazon” of Florida. 

Oil pad location site. The orange dots are panther 
telemetry data. (c) FWC
No biological opinions or environmental assessments have been done for this project. Since this project would impact a federally protected endangered species, there is a concern that these companies are not following proper regulations. Specifically, for any project that impacts an endangered species or its habitat, a Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act must be considered.

The greatest concern with any development in the area, other than additional loss of habitat for North American’s most endangered mammal, is the impact from roads. Vehicles are the greatest threat to panthers, and 2012 had the highest vehicle mortality on record. Any increase in traffic will pose a significant threat to the species.  Fencing and wildlife underpasses work very well when put to use, but without them, there will be increased mortalities from this project.

(c) Alexis Meyer
At a recent meeting, the Dan A. Hughes Company stated that they are implementing measures to reduce impacts to wildlife and plants but have not been forthcoming as to what these measures are. They have also not shared any documents with the public concerning potential environmental impacts. Their lack of transparency is troubling, and the Sierra Club questions whose interest they are upholding. Collier County boasts some of the most unique environmental assets in the state, if not the country. Projects like this set a precedent for destroying those vital assets, and threatening the future of Collier County's, and Florida’s, recreational and economic draw. 

This oil well is only the tip of the iceberg for southwest Florida. Opening up this site to drilling endangers Florida panthers, the watershed, our aquifers, and violates environmental justice of residents. It sets a precedent to open more land for drilling at a time when we should be looking toward clean, sustainable energy alternatives such as wind and solar.