Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Buy Sugarland Now!

A St. Lucie River toxic algae bloom in Stuart on Aug. 1, 2013.
Image credit: 
Dick Miller.
To combat Everglades drought and coastal toxic algae blooms, the State of Florida needs to acquire the remaining 150,000 acres of US Sugar land it optioned three-and-a-half years ago.

Last summer, thousands of Treasure Coast residents took to the streets as black and green ooze swept through the Indian River Lagoon. The toxins killed fish, dolphins and manatees and devastated the local economy.

Each winter, the Everglades, source of water for seven million people, is increasingly subject to drought.

Everglades Drought:
Completing the US Sugar purchase would help solve both problems

The land could be used or swapped to create shallow basins to store water and remove harmful nutrients, before heading south to the Everglades.

When the US Sugar purchase was announced in 2008 by Governor Charlie Crist, environmentalists cheered the conversion of 187,000 acres to public land. But a neighboring sugar company, Florida Crystals, fought the purchase. Eventually, the state bought 27,000 acres, but the rest stayed on the table.

More than 5,000 protest dirty water in the Indian River Lagoon
Despite a surplus budget, Governor Scott is unwilling to buy the remaining US Sugar lands available under contract.  

What can you do? Contact jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org and put the words “Buy Sugarland Now!” in the subject line. We will tell you more about our campaign, and how you can make a difference.

-- Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizing Representative

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sign the Petition to Stop Oil Drilling in Panther Habitat

This upcoming Tuesday, March 11th, the EPA is holding a hearing for Florida residents to voice their concerns about an injection well that would be located within the western Everglades. The well would be 1,000 feet from residences, less than one mile from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and within panther primary habitat - the lands needed for the species' continued existence.

We're asking all activists to sign the petition below, and if you're in the area, to attend the hearing at 4:00pm on the 11th.

Please contact Alexis Meyer at alexis.meyer@sierraclub.org with any questions.
Thank you for your continued support and interest Florida panthers!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Florida Panther Symposium - March 21st

Sierra Club Florida, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, are proud to announce the first ever Florida Panther Symposium.

Florida panthers are no match for loss, fragmentation and degradation of their habitat. If these iconic and graceful predators are to survive, they need protected habitat and a clear plan for recovery.

Join the the Sierra Club on Friday, March 21st, hosted by the University of Florida's Levin College of Law Conservation Clinic and GreenLaw. It's free and open to the public.

Learn about efforts to protect and expand Florida panthers' range. The event will feature presentations from noted scientists and wildlife biologists in the morning, followed by complimentary lunch and a keynote speaker at noon. Come meet the Club's panther campaign organizer, Alexis Meyer. There will also be a field trip to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, March 22nd.

Event details below:

What: Florida Panther Symposium
Where: University of Florida's Levin College of Law at 309 Village Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611
When: Friday, March 21st, beginning at 8:00am and closing with complimentary lunch and keynote speaker

This event is free and open to the public -- but space is limited, so you'll need to register by March 7th to attend.

Click here to get information and register for the Florida Panther Symposium.

Please contact Alexis Meyer at alexis.meyer@sierraclub.org with any questions.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Carbon Pollution: Florida shouldn’t be a victim

By Maggie Fernandez and Jonathan Ullman

Crystal River Coal Plant, Citrus County
source: theenergycollective.com
If you live next to a Citrus County coal-burning power plant, drive through a flooded Miami Beach street or are one of the seven million people who get their drinking water from a drought-prone Everglades, you are part of a growing Florida demographic: victims of carbon pollution.

Most Floridians don’t intuitively make the connection between power plants and climate disruption. We have to be reminded that coal plants like Crystal River in Citrus County are not only a threat to families that breathe in their pollutants directly, but to all Floridians in the form of sea level rise, superstorms and drought.
Miami Beach salt-water flooding, photo by Jon Ullman

We treat the symptoms but feel helpless about finding a cure.

That time is ending. During the next few months, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be crafting carbon pollution protections for existing power plants. Coal and gas-fired power plants, which emit approximately 40% of total US energy-related carbon pollution –a major source of rising temperatures and seas -- would finally be regulated.

In Florida there’s only one glitch: Governor Rick Scott has said he doesn’t believe in climate disruption, and he hasn't shown support for EPA safeguards.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Source: flgov.com
That’s a big problem for Florida.

First, let’s look at coal pollution without the climate implications:

According to the Clean Air Task Force, coal pollution in the United States costs us more than $100 billion annually in health costs and results in more than 12,000 emergency room visits per year. Northern and Central Florida is still dotted with coal plants, and increasingly we’re seeing large natural gas plants in the South Florida with their own set of health risks.

Now add in the carbon:

Last December was the hottest on record in Palm Beach County and nearly the hottest in Miami-Dade and Broward. Recently, the City of Miami Beach voted to spend nearly half a billion dollars just to keep pace with sea level rise. Despite record rains in South Florida last fall, the Everglades is increasingly subject to drought threatening the water supply for seven million people.

Florida should be in the front row calling on the EPA to regulate carbon from power plants. Instead, we’re hiding beneath the bleachers.

Rooftop Solar,  http://www.sierraclub.org/greenjobs/
The Sunshine State generates less than one percent of its power from solar. Travel the country, and you’ll see solar panels popping up everywhere, except in the state that has the most to lose from climate change.

The new EPA carbon safeguards will spark a wave of 21st century energy innovation and modernization for Florida as we battle climate change and transition to a clean energy economy, but we have to act fast.

Be a part of Florida’s carbon solution. Join our statewide action team. Email Jonathan Ullman at jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org Include your name, address and phone number, and tell us why you want to help stop carbon pollution. We’ll respond as soon as possible with details on how you can help.

Maggie Fernandez, LEED Green Associate, is a civic entrepreneur driven by her passion to ensure a sustainable future for Miami-Dade County. As president of Sustainable Miami, she provides the business, governmental and non-profit community a network and access to partnerships that result in innovative solutions to civic, environmental and social problems. 

Jonathan Ullman is the South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. He has been building coalitions and organizing activists to restore the Everglades for more than 15 years. Ullman is highly-knowledgeable about climate impacts to South Florida and the Everglades and is an accomplished writer and blogger.