Thursday, June 27, 2013

Duke Should Replace Coal-Fired Units at Crystal River with Clean Energy




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 27, 2013




Sierra Club and Earthjustice Call on Duke Energy and Florida Public Service Commission to Replace Crystal River Coal Units with Clean Energy Solutions by 2016


ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Today the Sierra Club and Earthjustice asked Duke Energy and the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to put two coal-fired units at the Crystal River plant on a path to retirement by 2016, and to replace those units with clean energy solutions like solar power and energy efficiency that are abundant and affordable in Florida.

Duke Energy has committed to phase out the Crystal River coal-fired power plant by 2020 at the latest, because it is the cheapest option for the company and its’ customers in Florida. Retiring the plant will save $1.32 billion in retrofit costs, yet this week Duke Energy is stalling, seeking approval to change its fuel blend to reduce dangerous emissions instead of crafting an affordable, reasonable plan to phase out the units by 2016.

“The Crystal River plant has seen the end of the road,” said Kelly Martin, Beyond Coal campaign representative with the Sierra Club. “Duke Energy has shown in its own analysis that phasing out this obsolete, dirty facility is by far the best option for our pocketbooks. Retiring the plant by 2016 is the best option for our air quality, too. We don’t need four more years of pollution. Duke Energy should stop stalling, and move forward now to help Tampa Bay homes and businesses become much more efficient and to make solar power available and affordable for its customers."

The Sierra Club and Earthjustice make these requests through comments on Duke Energy’s proposed ten-year site plans, which serves as its long-range planning process for electricity generation, and which must be approved by the Public Service Commission. The company’s new proposal to keep the plant operating past its prime is risky, promotes ongoing air pollution, and delays the much-needed transition to a more diverse and affordable electricity generation mix in Florida. The Sierra Club and Earthjustice will work with the PSC to ensure that Florida ratepayers secure cleaner air along with a more efficient, reliable electricity system.

"As a responsibility to its customers, Duke Energy must make a major commitment to energy efficiency and solar electricity as the way to replace lost capacity when it retires the coal units at Crystal River,” said Frank Jackalone, director of Sierra Club’s Florida office. “Duke should not replace dirty power with more dirty power; it would be the wrong choice for our health and the environment and cost ratepayers more on their electric bills than investing in energy efficiency improvements and solar panels for our homes and businesses."

The Public Service Commission will consider new goals for both Duke Energy under the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act in 2013, which makes this year an ideal time to plan for energy efficiency measures to replace part of the power generation from the Crystal River coal-fired units. Efficiency measures result in homes and commercial buildings using power more effectively, resulting in an equal or better standard of living and working with less overall electricity use. Utility-scale energy efficiency programs make power more affordable for low-income consumers and struggling families.

Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 2.1 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. www.earthjustice.org.

CONTACT:
Jenna Garland, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org
Kelly Martin, kelly.martin@sierraclub.org
Frank Jackalone, frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org

###

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Michael Brune: Hope is Back in the Game


Coming Clean: The blog of Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune




Back in the Game
Michael BruneFollow me on Twitter and Facebook. View my blog.

This afternoon, I had a short meeting with President Obama that left me more convinced than ever that he's serious about tackling the climate crisis. Sure enough, later under a sweltering Maryland sun at Georgetown University, I watched him calmly and forcefully restate the case for taking action on the climate crisis in one of the most important speeches of his presidency. He also outlined a Climate Action Plan that will help curb carbon pollution, develop clean energy sources, promote energy efficiency, and assert American global leadership on climate issues. Taken together, the new policies directly address what the president rightly calls "the global threat of our time."

Coming on the heels of an unprecedented string of extreme weather disasters, the plan recognizes that we must work on both the causes and the consequences of climate disruption.

But the two most significant commitments the president made were bona fide game-changers:
First, he said that he will use the full authority of the Clean Air Act to limit air pollution from both new and existing power plants. Second, he declared that he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it harms the climate, because to do so would not be in the national interest.

The science on Keystone's potentially catastrophic effect on climate could not be more clear. The rejection of this carbon pollution pipeline will be a major climate disaster averted.

Coal-fired power plants, however, are a disaster that has persisted for far too long and, as I listened to the president's speech, I shared the exuberance of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal activists and so many others in the movement who have fought to end this injustice. Coal-fired power plants are currently responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon pollution; although only a decade ago, that share was greater than one-half. The recent and welcome decline in U.S. carbon emissions to 1986 levels is the result of a decade-long trend away from using coal to generate electricity. Extending clean-air standards to older coal plants, many of which have been polluting for decades, will speed that trend. Not only will this significantly reduce our carbon pollution, but it will also save tens of thousands of lives, since the plants emit many other toxic air pollutants, from sulfur dioxide to mercury.

To meet the challenge of the climate crisis, however, we must do much more than simply celebrate the end of the Coal Age -- we need to hasten a new era of smart, clean energy, energy efficiency, and the jobs that support them. Here, too, the president's plan lays out a practical vision for the future. The president is justifiably proud that generation of renewable energy from wind and solar doubled during his first term; now he has committed to seeing it double again. One of the ways his administration will make that happen is by responsibly siting more renewable-energy projects on public lands. The goal is to install enough such projects to power 6 million homes by 2020.

Other major initiatives will promote energy efficiency in both the public and private sectors, begin the critical work of developing a "smart grid" energy infrastructure, raise the bar on fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles, and tackle the problem of climate-polluting hydrofluorocarbons and methane. Leakage and flaring of methane, which currently accounts for 9 percent of U.S. carbon pollution (and has a global warming potential that is more than 20 times greater than carbon dioxide), is one of the reasons why natural gas doesn't deserve its reputation as a "cleaner" fossil fuel.

Is everything in the Climate Action Plan workable -- or even a good idea to begin with? Of course not. Some ideas, like pursuing "clean coal" technology, investing in nuclear power, fracking, and building oversea markets for U.S. natural gas are either wrong-headed or dead ends. On balance, though, the plan offers a way for our nation to move forward strongly. Even if not every path offered is a good one -- it's never been clearer what our destination must be, and that this president wants to get us there.

Beyond the president's specific commitments, however, the most important takeaway from his speech is that he is determined to "personally own" this issue. That means taking responsibility in the face of what he has called a "moral obligation." He is far from alone in recognizing such an obligation. A national poll earlier this year found that 93 percent of Americans agree that we have "a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted or damaged."

Although the president's desire to save the planet certainly resonates with environmentalists like myself and the Sierra Club's  2.1 million members and supporters, that alone can't account for the overwhelming support of more than 90 percent of the American population. Our "moral obligation to future generations," though, is a different matter. If I ever need to get re-energized about fighting the climate crisis, all I need to do is look into the eyes of my kids. I know the same is true for President Obama. His exact words today: "As a president, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act."

The president's plan may one day be seen as a critical turning point, but let's not forget that this struggle is far from over. The president himself emphasized that this will be a long and rocky road. In the near term, at least, powerful special interests will continue to throw up roadblocks and obstacles at every turn. Congress, for its part, has resolutely and shamefully shirked its own moral obligation. What matters today, though, is that President Barack Obama has reasserted his leadership on climate with both words and deeds. For that, he deserves both our deepest gratitude and our whole-hearted support (and here's where you can send it to him).

Hope is back in the game. Let's win it.
 Click here to add yourself to Michael Brune's email list.
FBW.jpgACW.jpgINW.jpgTWW.jpg
Sierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105 | membership.services@sierraclub.org

View as a Webpage | 

Sierra Club Statement on President Obama’s Climate Plan


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 25, 2013
Contact: Maggie Kao, maggie.kao@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club Statement on President Obama’s Climate Plan

Washington, D.C. –  Today President Barack Obama announced his administration's next steps for building a legacy of action to fight the climate crisis. The plan includes new energy efficiency standards for federal buildings and appliances, doubles responsible clean energy production by 2020, and uses the full authority of the Clean Air Act to cut dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.

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

"This is the change we have been waiting for on climate.  

“Today, President Obama he has shown he is keeping his word to future generations.  His inspiring call to action is a testament to the vibrancy of the grassroots climate movement and the work of millions of activists to make tackling climate disruption a key part of the President’s legacy.

“The Sierra Club’s 2.1 million members and supporters issued a collective cheer as they heard the president declare that the most effective defense against climate disruption will be by tackling the biggest single source of carbon pollution: coal plants. The President’s plan does just that, implementing strong safeguards to slash deadly emissions from new and existing plants. Combined with the President’s commitments to energy efficiency and investments in American clean energy, this plan is a strong step forward in our fight to protect our planet and our families from a climate crisis that is already hitting home with droughts, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and other forms of extreme weather.

The President's strong commitment to using climate pollution as the standard by which Keystone XL will be decided means his decision to reject it should now be easy.  Any fair and unbiased analysis of the tar sands pipeline shows that the climate effects of this disastrous project would be significant.

While we must reduce pollution further to truly address dangerous climate disruption, we applaud the Administration’s continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020. This plan includes key steps to reaching that goal, and we look forward to working with the Obama Administration to build on the progress laid out in today’s announcement.

“There is still more work to be done. The President’s climate commitment and his speech today gives us great hope that he will finally address some of the remaining, worst abuses of the fossil fuel industry, including dirty and dangerous fracking, ending the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, halting destructive oil drilling in the Arctic, and overhauling the sweetheart deal on public lands that pads the bottom line of coal companies at public expense”

###

FBW.jpgACW.jpgINW.jpgTWW.jpg
logo-coal3.jpgSierra Club | 85 2nd St San Francisco, CA 94105 | sierra.news@sierraclub.org
To subscribe, email media.assistant@sierraclub.org | www.sierraclub.org/pressroom
Explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The kind of Heat Miami won't be celebrating


On the day the Miami Heat won the NBA finals, the residents also learned in a Rolling Stone article titled "Goodbye, Miami" that sea level rise could very well inundate the city in the coming decades.

The article brilliantly showed the widespread denial played out by local officials, developers and an energy company in the face of science. It exposed what I’ll call, the denial Ponzi scheme.

Except for the cries of a handful of elected officials, some local government staffers and various non-governmental organizations and activists, this region of five million people is still going about its business as if nothing were happening.

Florida Power and Light is still trying to build two new nuclear power reactors next to two existing ones on a coast that will soon be underwater. Developers are still building high-rise condos in areas that are predicted to be flooded within a few decades. Politicians are still insisting that some unknown Dutch technology will save us even though our porous limestone is not found in Holland. 

Floridians must become leaders in the global movement to combat climate change and prevent the worst-case scenario for warming global temperature and sea level rise. Worldwide, people must reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% by 2050 to prevent a climate change disaster. Each one of us needs to act decisively by making our homes, motor vehicles, and businesses more energy efficient and powering them with solar and wind energy.

We can also protect our natural resources to minimize those impacts such as elevating Tamiami Trail and removing other barriers in the Everglades.

Floridians have an opportunity to show leadership to rest of the world.  Let’s do it now.

-- Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizer


Rolling Stone article, "Goodbye Miami": click here
Sierra Club Initiative to Limit Greenhouse Emissions: click here 

Photo credit:: Florida Atlantic University

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Urban Turf Rule NEEDS YOU!

Rule 5E-1.003(2), Florida Administrative Code, Labeling Requirements For Urban Turf Fertilizers, otherwise known as the Florida Urban Turf Rule, is the state rule that dictates the labeling requirements for lawn fertilizer products sold at the retail level.  FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) has recently opened up the current Urban Turf Rule for modification.

The Urban Turf Rule in its current form is certainly in need of improvement; it sabotages the use of the most effective longer-term controlled-release Nitrogen products and allows for excessive application of Nitrogen and Phosphorous.  However, the current Urban Turf Rule is not all bad - it does not deter local governments from adopting strict urban fertilizer ordinances.

Rulemaking in Florida is determined by statute; it must involve a stakeholder negotiation process and must make it easier rather than harder for stakeholders to participate.  In as much, the environmental/conservation community would be remiss if we allowed the fertilizer, pest control and turf industries to take part in the rulemaking process without challenge.


We have two main concerns:  

1. We need to challenge and defeat any modifications to the rule that would negatively impact the ability of local governments to continue to adopt strong, protective fertilizer ordinances that include rainy season application bans, requirements for high percentage controlled-release Nitrogen, and annual application rate limits.

2. We need to improve the Urban Turf Rule to make it more protective of water quality. 

The Sierra Club has submitted information requests and comments related to the initially proposed modifications to the Rule and new proposed changes as well. 

For the current Rule and links to the proposed changes (go to "Workshop") click here.

Right now the major issues are:

Re:  Relevant research:  Modifications should be based on relevant research.

Re:  "Actively Growing":  The newly proposed table ((2) (b) 4. a. Fertilization Guidelines for Established Turfgrass Lawns in Three Regions of Florida Nitrogen Recommendations) currently includes the unacceptable, very subjective, definition of "actively growing" that could be interpreted by some to mean that the only time to fertilize turf is during the height of the rainy season.  What the revised Rule needs (by definition) is an appropriate, objective manner of stating clearly that dormant turf should not be fertilized.  The current Rule guideline table is preferable to the newly proposed table for other reasons as well.

Re:  Phosphorous application rates:  It is high time for Florida to go "No Phosphorous" (without a soil test proven deficiency).  

Re:  Application rate for quick-release Nitrogen:  It is also time to limit the per application rate of quick-release Nitrogen to .5 lb.; there is no research-based argument for remaining with the current Rule limit of .7 lb.

Re:  Application rates for controlled-release Nitrogen:  Care must be taken to allow for the use of higher percentage (longer extended) controlled-release Nitrogen (more pounds per application) in a way that does not allow too much of the quick-release Nitrogen (found in the controlled-release products) to be released in the first seven days.  

Re:  The adverse impact and/or regulatory costs incurred by the Rule changes: The statute related to the impact regulatory costs have on the rulemaking process can be found here.  In a nutshell, if the costs meet a certain limit then the rule change must be ratified by the legislature.  I am absolutely sure that all of the stakeholders have this fact on their minds and I believe this issue will be a significant part of the discussion as the workshops proceed.

Re:  Subsequent workshop dates and locations: A number of local governments and organizations, including the Sierra Club, have requested regionally-located workshops to make stakeholder involvement more accessible. The more requests FDACS receives, the more likely regional workshops will be.  Please send your own request to:
Weldon Collier
Program Planning Coordinator, Division of Agricultural Environmental Services 
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
3125 Conner Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1650

Requests to be on the distribution list should also go to Mr. Collier.

The first rulemaking workshop, held in Tallahassee on May 28, was well-run and a full discussion of the issues was allowed.  I encourage all who share the Sierra Club's concerns to attend subsequent workshops. 

Please contact cris.costello@sierraclub.org for more information.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sierra Club Brings Together Powerful Group of Stakeholders for First Electric Vehicle Collaborative

Electric vehicles present a critical opportunity to curb harmful air pollution that wreaks havoc on public health and our climate. Electrifying our transportation also reduces our dependence on dirty oil and lessens the need to drill for more extreme sources of fossil fuels, whether it is oil from the Gulf, tar sands in Canada, or  natural gas from the Everglades.

Electric vehicles are the cleanest cars around, even after taking into account the electricity needed to charge them. Even better yet, as we retire more coal plants and bring cleaner sources of power online, the emissions produced from charging an electric vehicle will drop even further. But as long as our highways and communities are dominated by gas stations rather than electric vehicle charging stations, we will never see the benefits of zero emission vehicles.  The need to prepare our cities and regional corridors for growing electric vehicle use is becoming more and more imperative.


Working together we can make that happen and collaboration is our key to success.

To drive this change, Sierra Club's Florida Healthy Air campaign is organizing a series of Electric Vehicle Collaborative stakeholder workshops.  The first workshop was held in Sarasota, FL on June 11, 2013.  Seventy-four members of the community attended the first workshop which was designed to identify local barriers to electric vehicle adoption. Participants ranged from local business owners, to EV drivers, to industry experts, to local government officials, to those that would just like to see an oil-free community with cleaner air to breathe.


The evening began with a networking happy hour which provided attendees a chance to meet and mingle.  After happy hour, the collaborative workshop convened with a presentation by Florida Healthy Air campaign organizer Britten Cleveland, who outlined the vision and objectives of the Electric Vehicle Collaborative process. During the presentation, several U.S. cities that are considered ahead of the curve in terms of EV community readiness were spotlighted to set the stage for the work ahead.

The real fun began when the 74 participants broke into 8 discussion groups, each focusing on one question that solicited input with regards to the barriers to electric vehicle adoption. Questions like: "what are the cost concerns that inhibit EV adoption?" and "what are your perceptions associated with charging a plug in electric vehicle in a public place that may be inhibiting greater EV adoption?" were asked at each of the tables. Three rounds of discussion were held so each participant visited three different discussion groups and brainstormed for 20 minutes at each table.  The results were outstanding.  Thanks to the enthusiasm and engagement from our stakeholders, we now have a solid framework to work with in solving local challenges to EV adoption.

The most thrilling moment came at the end of the 3-hour workshop when we asked participants in the still-packed room how many would come back in July for the next session to brainstorm local solutions to the problems they identified.  Every single person rapidly and enthusiastically raised their hands to say they would be back.

The next workshop in Sarasota will be held in July and will focus on brainstorming local opportunities to overcome the barriers to EV adoption that were identified in the first meeting.  The end result will be a list of tangible community action steps that members of newly formed action teams will bring forth to the community and to decision-makers to fulfill our goal of making the Sarasota region a leader in EV adoption and integration.  The Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicle Collaborative model will be duplicated in other parts of Florida later this year.  Next up: Tampa-Saint Petersburg and then Orlando.

To learn more about the Sierra Club’s Florida Healthy Air Campaign and the Electric Vehicle Collaborative, visit our Facebook page.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sierra Club & Earthjustice Challenge State Plan to Approve Illegal Toxic Pollution from Crystal River & Lansing Smith Coal-Fired Power Plants


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

St. Petersburg, FL - The Sierra Club and Earthjustice have asked the State of Florida to significantly strengthen its plan to address sulfur dioxide pollution coming from two of the state’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. The Lansing Smith plant, owned by Gulf Power in Panama City, and the Crystal River plant, owned by Duke Energy Progress near Tampa-St. Petersburg, are both allowed to emit sulfur dioxide, a dangerous gas that causes asthma attacks, at levels that exceed federal clean air health standards. The state needs to do more to protect the health of people living in Panama City and the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area.


“In Florida, we know how painful a sunburn is. When a person breathes in the dangerously high levels of pollution coming from the Lansing Smith or Crystal River coal plants, it is like a sunburn on your lungs,” said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club’s Florida staff director. “When parents take their kids to the beach for the weekend, they put on sunscreen to protect against sunburns, but they can’t protect against this harmful sulfur dioxide pollution coming from these coal-fired power plants. That’s the state’s job, and we need Florida to do its job to protect our children and communities.”


Currently, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) plan does not meet requirements to limit sulfur dioxide pollution and protect Floridians’ health. Failing to design a plan that meets the standards of the Clean Air Act could trigger costly lawsuits or the need for the United States Environmental Protection Agency to step in and ensure Florida residents are being protected from harmful pollution.


“Sulfur dioxide pollution triggers asthma attacks and heart attacks, and even five minutes of exposure can do real damage to sensitive populations, like young children and the elderly,” said Rudy Scheffer, vice chairman of Sierra Club Florida. “It’s unacceptable for the state to finalize a plan that ignores the facts and takes no real steps to reduce the toxic pollution that is so harmful to Floridians. We’re stepping in now to tell the state of Florida: don’t pass the buck on clean air.”


“In a state known for its beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, Florida’s children should be able to play outside in air that doesn’t harm them. It’s time to bring these old, polluting, power plants up to modern standards,” added Alisa Coe, an attorney with Earthjustice who works on clean air issues in Florida.


More than 1,700 Sierra Club members and supporters signed an online action alert asking the Department of Environmental Protection to significantly strengthen its proposed sulfur dioxide plan before putting it into effect. The state has recently finalized a separate but related set of air pollution standards that will result in some reductions of sulfur dioxide pollution, but these improvements will not take effect for several years, and do not guarantee safe air quality, leaving tourists and Florida’s most vulnerable residents at risk of serious illness.


Comments can be downloaded from: https://www.box.com/s/gsrpkkis8udo0y9h6fnk.


Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 2.1 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org.

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. www.earthjustice.org.
###

CONTACT:
Alisa Coe, Earthjustice

Central Florida Action Alert: Demand strong fertilizer controls from Orlando City Council

City of Orlando Mayor Dyer has publicly stated that his city can be “the most sustainable city in the southeast part of the United States.”

Then why is the City Council poised to accept only the bare minimum protections against the excessive lawn fertilizer use that is poisoning Orlando's lakes, ponds, rivers and springs?  The slimy algae outbreaks that are all too prevalent in the city should not be the “green” for which Orlando is known.

This coming Monday, Orlando City Council will hold a public hearing to adopt the weakest lawn fertilizer ordinance in the state and you can help us make sure they change their minds.
Strong fertilizer ordinances protect the people of Tampa, St. Pete, Naples and 40 other cities (and six counties) in the state against toxic algae that is fed by lawn fertilizer - we need to make sure the Orlando City Council protects its residents and visitors too.

If you live in or visit Orlando you can help right now:  
Send the Mayor and Council Members a message demanding that they protect us from fertilizer pollution - they need to SEND THE ORDINANCE BACK TO DRAFTING TO MAKE IT STRONGER!  

Email addresses and phone numbers:


On Monday we need you to go the extra mile and come to the hearing at City Hall.

It's easy- all you need to do is show up - we will have stickers to wear to identify us. If you want to make your voice heard loud and clear by testifying in person on behalf of clean water for Orlando, we will have talking points to help you craft your statement!

WHEN: Monday, June 17th

TIME: 2 pm

WHERE: City Hall
2nd Floor
400 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando 32801

If you have any questions or want more information about fertilizer ordinances, please e-mail macy.zander@sierraclub.org or call (260) 450-4946.

Please join us!  We can't win without your support. 



Fertilize during the summer?
You might as well just go ahead and apply it right in the water!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Everglades opportunity - going going, gone?

You’d be crazy to pass up a chance to secure hundreds of millions of federal dollars to restore the Everglades? But that’s just what South Florida water managers could end up doing if they don’t vote for a landmark federal restoration plan by next month.

After more than a half-century of carving up the central Everglades, the Feds have a ready-to-go plan to dismantle much of the infrastructure that has caused so much damage. The infamous Miami Canal and lamentable L-67 levees that have blocked the flow of water through the Everglades for decades will be breached so water can flow south underneath a planned 2.6 mile bridge over Tamiami Trail.

This is a complex subject, so we've turned it into dialog:

Uncle Sam: I have a plan to save the Everglades. Want me to do it?
Freddy the Alligator (water district's mascot) : Hmmm, let me think about it.
Uncle Sam: No seriously, the plan’s ready, but if you don’t act now we may have to wait another seven years. All I need is your tooth signature.
Freddy the Alligator: But I’m so comfortable where I am.
Uncle Sam: Where you are? You’re dying, man. This is the only thing that’ll save you. Do you really want to turn this down? This opportunity doesn’t come by every day. You’ve got a month to decide.
-----------------------

Can you help Freddy make the right decision?

A) Send an Email!

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board must vote at their July meeting to become the “local sponsor” or the Everglades restoration plan could
sink into the sawgrass.

1)      Copy and paste the emails of the Governing Board members in an email.


2)      Copy and Paste this into the subject line: Don't pass up this opportunity to save the Everglades!

3)      Copy and paste this text :

Dear SFWMD Governing Board member:

We urgently ask you to release the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) Project Implementation Report (PIR) for public review this month and vote to become the local sponsor at your July meeting.  This is a unique opportunity that must not be missed. The survival of the Everglades is in your hands.

Sincerely,


-------------------------

B) Speak out at the South Florida Water Management District's next meeting on June 13 in Key Biscayne!


When: Thursday, June, 13. Arrive between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
Where: Key Biscayne Village Council Chambers, 560 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, FL 33149
What: Fill out a comment card. Ask the SFWMD Governing Board to officially approve the Central Everglades project by voting to be the “local sponsor” at their next meeting.  Failing to do so could push back restoration plans by almost a decade, eliminate the opportunity for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and permanently imperil the Everglades.
Full meeting info: www.sfwmd.org

For more information contact, Jonathan Ullman, 305-860-9888, jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org


The Central Everglades Restoration Plan - Source: http://www.evergladesplan.org/
-- Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizer

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 Legislative Session Wrap-Up Report


This was an interesting session (as all of them are…).  Sierra Club was able to play defense pretty effectively, and we even got to make a few plays on offense.  As in previous years, we worked with our allies in Tallahassee’s environmental lobby, with you - the grass roots, and with local government officials who are accountable for their jurisdictions.


This is a session “wrap-up” report, but the fun doesn’t stop here.  The 2014 session is right around the corner.  Now is the perfect time to connect with legislators.  Visit their district offices and invite them to your events.  Meeting you personally and learning your stories will make a big difference next year. 

District office and contact information for Representatives is here: http://myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx


One of the big changes this year was the number of bills we were able to improve through the amendment process.  In some cases when a bill that started out as one that we opposed, we were able to work with the sponsor and stakeholders to get it amended to a bill that we could support.  SB 948 by Sen. Grimsley was a clear example of this.  Sometimes when we couldn’t get to “yes” on a bill, we could at least get to “neutral.”

House Speaker Weatherford and Senate President Gaetz directed most of their focus to addressing some of the embarrassing 2012 election problems, ethics, an attempt to change state workers’ pensions, and of course, the budget.  But there was still plenty of legislation dealing with the environment.    Much of it had to do with water issues, state lands, and permitting, though there were also bills on growth management issues.  Renewable energy issues continue to be very difficult to get traction on.  Two energy bills passed this year, but many good ones died. 

Elections make a difference.  Democrats had over a third of the seats in each chamber this year which allowed them to block majority attempts to suspend the rules (which takes a two-thirds vote).  At the end of session in the House they also required a word for word reading of each bill which slowed things down a lot.  Delay can prevent bad bills from being heard.  This may have played into the final result on the fertilizer issue.  Yes, fertilizer was an issue – again – and is likely to be one next year as well.

In the Senate, President Gaetz gave chairmanships to five Democrats while Speaker Weatherford named all Republicans to chair House committees.

One of the big changes from the last election was that the Speaker designate for the 2015-16 term, Rep. Chris Dorworth, was defeated at the polls in the 2012 elections.  This meant the majority party had to choose a new successor to current Speaker Weatherford, and they chose Rep. Steve Crisafulli who represents part of Brevard County.  Barring a major shake-up in the next election, he will become Speaker in two years.

This wrap-up report covers our most important wins and losses on both bills and issues, and provides information on some of the bills we tracked throughout session.

Please go to the jump page (click "Read more >>" below) to see the full report which covers many bills of interest during the past session: