Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rick Scott's Drop in the Bucket


Please take a moment to read  a great editorial column published this week in the Ocala Star Banner.   Editorial Page Editor Brad Rogers thoroughly dissects Governor Scott's sudden attempt to redefine himself as a champion of Florida's vanishing, algae-plagued springs.

Here's the link:

Scott’s drop in the bucket


Friday, January 24, 2014

Sixteen Florida Cities, One Message: WE WANT CLEAN WATER!

On January 22 concerned Floridians from more than 100 different organizations in 16 communities at risk from water pollution and the unrestrained over-consumption of water resources gathered to make a stand for clean water in Florida.   

“Commit to Clean Water” events were held in Boynton Beach, Bradenton, Ft. Myers, Ft. Pierce, Gainesville, Interlachen, Jacksonville, Key West, Palm Bay, Orlando, Naples, Ocala, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, and Vero Beach.

The public was joined by local and state level elected officials who want to join the fight to save Florida from the threat of lost jobs, lost quality of life and lost natural environments that we now face due to the degradation of our state’s waters; they were State Senator David Simmons and State Representative Linda Stewart (in Orlando), State Representative Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda, and State Representative Alan Williams (in Tallahassee), State Representative Mark Danish, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern (in Tampa), State Representative Lori Berman (in Boynton Beach), State Representative Heather Fitzenhagen (in Ft. Myers), Manatee County Commissioners Michael Gallen and Robin DiSabatino (in Bradenton), Indian River County Commissioner Peter D. O’Bryan and Indian River County School Board Member Dale Simchick (in Vero Beach), St. Lucie County Commissioners Tod Mowery and Chris Dzadovsky (in Ft. Pierce), Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love , Palm Bay City Councilwoman Michelle Paccione, Interlachen Mayor Ken Larsen and Alachua County Commissioners Mike Byerly and Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson.

Civic, water and environmental groups from every corner of the state have come together to launch a historic endeavor – a collaborative campaign to harness the resources and energy of organizations and individuals from throughout our state to demand and win the protection of Florida's springs, rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

The cornerstone of the campaign is the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration which was developed with the input and support of dozens of environmental organizations. The Declaration lists six rights that should be guaranteed to the people of Florida and four responsibilities of the state government, water managers, and natural resource users.

The goal of the campaign is to build a movement; to demonstrate Floridians' overwhelming support for protecting state waters and to create a framework for achieving meaningful policy changes in the future.

The campaign's genesis was only two months ago on November 16 when water quality activists from across the state gathered at a Citizens' Summit to begin to explore ways to collaborate at a higher level.

For additional photos of the events go to the FCWD Campaign Facebook page.  

Visit our website www.wewantcleanwater.com to sign the declaration and learn more.

Our next big event will be on February 18 when we rally on the Old Capitol steps in Tallahassee - more details to follow!

PRESS HITS
Statewide (Clear Channel Radio)

Bradenton

Ft. Myers
Fox 13 TV (no link available)

Gainesville


Jacksonville






Lakeland

Ocala

Orlando


Palm Bay


Palm Beach County


Sarasota
WSLR Radio 99.5 (no link available)

Stuart/Ft. Pierce


Tampa





Tallahassee








Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fracking Alert - HB 71 and 157 in House Committee Tuesday Morning

ALERT
Fracking Bills To Be Heard In Committee Tuesday Morning
Please Call District Offices Monday To Urge ‘No’ Votes
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee will hear two linked bills by Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R – Lee County) dealing with exemption from disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking for oil and gas. The hearing will be on Tuesday morning, so please make your calls to the district offices on Monday. (see contact info below)
The bills can be seen at these links:
The two bills are linked: HB 71 calls for disclosure of the volume of water and the chemicals injected into the ground to frack wells, but HB 157 allows companies to withhold whichever chemicals they choose from disclosure by claiming they are “trade secrets” and only a court can decide otherwise. (Public records exemptions have to be in stand-alone bills and pass by a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate; that’s why there are two bills.)
Talking Points:
  • There should be complete transparency in disclosing the volume and identity of fracking fluids, and full and robust public participation before any fracking activity takes place. Without full disclosure, public participation is frustrated since citizens won’t even know there’s a problem until it’s too late. The interests of one industry cannot supersede those of entire communities.
  • The legislature should impose a moratorium on any fracking in the state at least until the EPA report on the impact of fracking on the drinking water resource is completed and studied. (It is due out sometime in 2014.)
  • There is no federal protection under the Safe Water Drinking Act (Congress passed an exemption for fracking in 2005.)
  • There are legitimate concerns about fracking:
    • Volume of water used and (up to 13 million gallons per well)
    • Chemical mixing – spills and transportation accidents
    • Injection of chemicals – migration to groundwater and mobilization of subsurface materials into aquifer
    • Flowback and produced water – spills, treatment, leaching, final disposition of pits – and what happens to the 30% of the injected fluids that are not returned to the surface?
    • Wastewater treatment and waste disposal – contamination of surface and groundwater, insufficient treatment, transportation accidents.
· The National Academy of Sciences discovered that homes within 1 kilometer (2/3 mile) were six times more likely to have six times more methane in their drinking water than those farther away. Ethane levels were 23 times higher.
· At least 29 toxic chemicals are used in 652 products for fracking. They include carcinogens, hazardous air pollutants, and substances regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act (except for fracking because of the exemption).
Please call these committee member’s district offices tomorrow (Monday) and urge them to vote NO on HB 71 and 157. (scroll to the right for individual emails, or copy and paste all of them below.)
House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee 2014
Representative
County/Counties
District Phone
Email
Rep. Matt Caldwell, Chair
Lee
(239) 694-0161
Rep. Tom Goodson, Vice Chair
Brevard, Orange
(321) 383-5151
Rep. Kevin Rader, Dem. Ranking Member
Palm Beach
(561) 218-5010
Rep. Halsey Beshears
Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla
(850) 274-1084
Rep. Jim Boyd
Manatee, Sarasota
(941) 708-4968
Rep. Katie A. Edwards
Broward
(954) 838-1371
Rep. Larry Lee Jr.
St. Lucie
(772) 595-1391
Rep. Cary Pigman
Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, St. Lucie
(863) 386-6000
Rep. Ray Pilon
Sarasota
(941) 955-8077
Rep. Elizabeth W. Porter
Alachua, Baker, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee
(386) 719-4600
Rep. Betty Reed
Hillsborough
(813) 241-8024
Rep. Patrick Rooney
Palm Beach
(561) 625-5176
Rep. Clovis Watson
Alachua, Marion
(352) 264-4001
Thank you for all you do for the planet!
David Cullen
941-323-2404

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Duke Seeks to Extend Operations of Its Dirtiest Coal Units Through 2018


While the Sunshine State has unlimited potential to be a true leader in solar and energy efficiency, creating jobs and a new, vibrant economy for our state, coal-fired plants like Duke Energy's Crystal River Power Station generate soot, smog and toxic mercury pollution that threaten our health, environment and economy. The Sierra Club's Florida Beyond Coal Campaign has a simple message: it’s time for Duke Energy to stop stalling and choose twenty-first century, clean renewable energy solutions for Florida.
Simply put, the Crystal River plant is too costly for Duke Energy customers and takes a heavy toll on Florida’s air and water quality. The Florida Beyond Coal Campaign is calling for Duke to phase out two boilers at its Crystal River coal plant by 2016 and commit to clean renewable energy solutions, such as solar, sooner rather than later.

However, we have learned that Duke Energy filed a petition with the state Public Service Commission on December 31st that would allow the utility to extend operations of the two coal boilers until 2018. In addition, Duke would be permitted to charge customers for costs associated with the continued operation of those units.

Ivan Penn of the Tampa Bay Times has written an excellent piece setting out the details regarding Duke's petition: http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/duke-seeks-to-extend-operations-of-dirtiest-coal-units-through-2018/2160019

Judge’s Decision Leaves Florida’s Public Waters Unprotected

***PRESS RELEASE***

Polluters Win; People and Wildlife Lose

Judge’s Decision Leaves Florida’s Public Waters Unprotected

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2014

CONTACTS:
David Guest, Earthjustice Attorney; (850) 228-3337
Manley Fuller, Florida Wildlife Federation; (850) 567-7129
Frank Jackalone, Florida Organizing Manager, Sierra Club (727) 824-8813 x 302
Lisa Rinaman, St Johns Riverkeeper (904) 509-3260
Becky Ayech, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (941) 322-2164
Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; (239) 961-1900

TALLAHASSEE, FL. – Today’s decision by a U.S. District Judge allows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to avoid applying Clean Water Act protections for two-thirds of all Florida waters, including streams and canals. The decision permits EPA to simply change its mind and not protect most streams and canals.

“Florida’s clean water regulations just aren’t working, and we need EPA to step in and do the job,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “We have so much sewage, fertilizer, and manure contamination that we have toxic slime outbreaks happening all over the state. Hundreds of dead manatees, dolphins, fish and birds have been washing up on shores in South Florida.  The Clean Water Act is supposed to prevent things like this.”

“We are considering an appeal of this decision,” Guest added.

Devastating algae outbreaks, like the ones which have broken out on many Florida springs, the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Johns River, the Caloosahatchee River, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, and Tampa Bay are a public health crisis and an economic nightmare – killing wildlife, hurting property values and devastating tourism revenue.

“Florida water pollution is now so bad it’s featured on the national news,” said Florida Wildlife Federation President Manley Fuller. “We’ve got dead fish, dead oysters, dead manatees and dead birds. We clearly need EPA to do its job and enforce the Clean Water Act.”

Instead of preventing the pollution at its source, the state and EPA have allowed polluter lobbyists to write huge loopholes into rules that are supposed to prevent toxic algae outbreaks. Together, these loopholes leave about two-thirds of streams, canals, tidal creeks and similar waters unprotected from sewage, manure and fertilizer contamination.

“This is simply outrageous. The lower St. Johns River has been plagued with a toxic green algae outbreak that tests show is 100 times more toxic than the standards that the World Health Organization sets for recreation,” said Lisa Rinaman, St Johns Riverkeeper. “When you have waters that have 100 times the amount of toxins that the world’s top health experts say is safe, you know Florida’s regulations are not working. This is not the time for the EPA to turn its back on Florida's waters."

The EPA agreed to set pollution limits for Florida to settle a 2008 Clean Water Act suit filed by Earthjustice in the Northern District of Florida on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club.  The suit challenged the decade-long delay by the state and federal governments in setting limits for phosphorus and nitrogen -- so-called “nutrient pollution.”

The public supported the EPA’s action. When the EPA asked the public to comment on the water pollution limits, the agency received 22,000 comments, and 20,000 were in support of the EPA’s standards. In response to a call for action, more than 40,000 citizens wrote the White House.

“Instead of protecting people from water pollution, the state is bending over backwards to do the bidding of a small number of politically-connected polluters, like Big Sugar, who just won’t  clean up their own mess,”  said Becky Ayech, of the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida. 

Florida has also eviscerated the programs designed to manage and prevent this kind of pollution, hacking the budgets of the state Water Management Districts and the Department of Environmental Protection, firing many experienced enforcement and scientific staffers, eliminating the state land-planning agency, and approving these weak, polluter-friendly water standards. Last year, the Legislature even voted down a common-sense measure that would have merely required the state to make public the number of illnesses and pet and wildlife deaths from the toxic algae outbreaks.

“On the heels of recent state and Congressional hearings on the dangerously poor water quality in our state, it is imperative that citizens contact all of their elected leaders right now, including President Obama, urging them to set numeric nutrient water quality standards for all flowing waters in Florida to control pollution at its source,” said Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy of Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “This ruling, if not challenged, will reinforce the status quo of allowing too much pollution into our waterways, damaging our tourism- based economy and expecting taxpayers to pick of the tab for massively expensive clean-up projects.”