Friday, December 19, 2014

Sierra Club Statement on Record Breaking Florida Panther Deaths

Sierra Club Statement on Record Breaking Florida panther Deaths

Friday, December 19th, 2014
Contact:
Alexis Meyer, 727-490-8215 or alexis.meyer@sierraclub.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 18, 2014

Sierra Club Statement on Record Breaking Florida Panther Deaths

Ft. Myers, Florida – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces record-breaking year in Florida panther deaths.

Alexis Meyer, Associate Organizing Representative of Sierra Club’s Florida Panther Critical Habitat Campaign, issued the following response:


“This week, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Florida panther record for deaths in one year was broken, and a new record for road mortalities was set, when three young male panthers were reported dead within twenty-four hours. Thirty panthers have died in 2014; the two biggest killers being cars (23) and intraspecific aggression (fighting between the same species) (3).  Overwhelmingly, people are causing the decline of the already critically endangered species.

“The greatest threat to the Florida panther is loss of habitat/fragmentation and encroachment by humans. Both car strikes and intraspecific aggression are symptoms of the much larger problem of habitat loss. Panthers have not received critical habitat designation, the lands identified as essential for the continued existence of a species, by the federal government. Instead their habitat in South Florida faces a continual net loss every year.  With reduced impact fees from construction, the economy on the upswing and pressure from developers, miners, and oil drillers, panther habitat is at a premium.  And the panthers are losing.

“As panthers seek territory or mates, they are increasingly coming into contact with humans, whether with their cars or their hobby animals. More deaths on hobby farm animals, like goats and chickens, were also reported this year. But with subsidized predator-proof fencing (Defenders of Wildlife will even help homeowners set them up!), and a little education, the majority of these losses could have been prevented. And while more people are seeing panthers, there has still never been a confirmed attack by a Florida panther on a human being - not ever.

A few government and private advocacy spokespeople are touting these record-breaking deaths as a success story, claiming that it is a positive sign that the Florida Panther population is growing. This wayward interpretation of a small increase in the panther population intentionally sidesteps the real issue:  One of the most endangered mammals in North America is literally being run over by development.  The Florida Panther is being squeezed out by habitat loss, traversing roads without protective wildlife underpasses, and being vilified in the media.  Our state animal, the embodiment of what makes Florida wild, is losing out.”

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Florida Public Service Commission gives FPL $700 milion holiday gift

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2014
Contact: Frank Jackalone (727) 824-8813 x302 or frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org 


Public Service Commission Sides with Utilities over Ratepayers

- Commission Approves FP&L Petition to Explore Fracking at Expense of Customers -


Tallahassee - Today the Florida Public Service Commission voted to approve FP&L’s request to invest in risky natural gas exploration at the expense of its customers by a vote of 4-1. 

With the approval of the petition today, FP&L can now charge its customers more than $700 million a year for a fracking project in Oklahoma without a guaranteed rate of return for customers. In essence, FP&L could shift all shareholder risks of investing in energy projects to customers, thereby eliminating shareholder risks and maximizing shareholder profits. The proposed Woodward Project by FP&L is a speculative investment at best. At worst FP&L customers could wind up footing the bill for an expensive project that will yield nothing, similar to Duke Energy customers who paid for a nuclear power plant that was never built.  

"The Public Service Commission thought today was Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa combined for Florida Power and Light, handing it a gift worth more than $700 million a year." said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club's Florida Staff Director.   But the PSC placed a lump of coal in ratepayers stockings, forcing us to pay the bill for FPL's environmentally-destructive fracking adventure in Oklahoma."  

Just last month the Commission cited the need to gut Energy Efficiency measures by more than 90 percent because the utilities claimed costs associated with energy efficiency were too high. Yet today, the Commission voted to approve a project that at best will save customers between $.02 and $.06 cents a month on their utility bills. Further, Commissioners argued that the fracking project proposed by FP&L adds fuel diversity to the state. 

“If the Commission were serious about fuel diversity in Florida they would have supported high energy efficiency measures - lowering the demand for energy while providing real relief in ratepayer’s monthly bills. Further the Commission should be urging utilities to expand into renewable energy sources like wind and solar,” said Tom Larson, volunteer co-lead of the Sierra Club Florida Energy & Climate Action Team. 

This opens the door to other risky fracking projects to be presented to the Commission by utilities in Florida. Duke Energy has stated it would consider bringing similar fracking proposals to the Commission for approval based on the Commission’s vote. While Florida moves forward with more fracking, New York State has moved in the right direction banning fracking altogether based on serious health risks associated with the practice. 

###

Frank Jackalone
Senior Organizing Manager
Sierra Club
1990 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33712


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SAVE THE DATE! Feb 18, 2015 - Floridians for Clean Water & Amendment 1 Rally



Put February 18, 2015 on your calendar and start making plans!  

This rally will make an even bigger splash than the first!

This time the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign 

will join forces with the Amendment 1 Campaign for a
Floridians for Clean Water & Amendment 1 Rally

Together we will make our clean water demands heard!  
Don't miss this chance to "talk water" with your own legislators!

What would be the best holiday present ever?  Clean water of course! 
Let's make it happen in 2015!

Get more info on the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign at:

 2014 We Want Clean Water Rally - Tallahassee FL

How To Avoid Getting a Sunburn on the Inside of Your Lungs

You probably know someone with asthma or COPD. Now you can do something to help them breathe.
An all-too-frequent smoggy day in Tampa. 


The most common reason any child will ever miss school is when they suffer an asthma attack. You might not think of Florida as having a smog problem, but actually 13 counties* in the Panhandle, Gulf Coast and Central Florida now have smog at levels that aggravate asthma sufferers, contributing to keeping kids home sick from school.

All too often they end up in hospital ER’s. Smog is created when emissions from our cars’ tailpipes and power plant smokestacks are transformed by something we have plenty of – Florida sunshine – into smog. Orlando exceeds safe smog level; Hillsborough's Air Quality Gets An "F"


Kids aren’t the only ones who are harmed when we have smoggy days. Seniors with COPD or adults with other respiratory conditions can also experience the “sunburn on the inside of their lungs” that comes from exercising outdoors on days when ground level ozone levels get too high – something that happens here all too often.


After waiting 6 years for the government to catch up to medical research, the EPA has finally proposed a new rule that would require these counties to clean up their air. But this new clean-air safeguard is in danger of falling short of truly protecting our kids and seniors from dangerous pollution.




Colin can't afford more dangerous air pollution
With a strong smog rule, these 13 Florida counties* will have to invest in the transit options and safer streets Florida lacks that force us all to drive (and pollute) when we’d rather walk, bike or ride a bus or train.


As important as transit is, It's not just about giving people a choice to sometimes travel without driving a car. Even after transit options are finally adopted here, most Floridians will continue to drive their cars most of the time. We also must continue to improve fuel economy standards while providing the infrastructure and incentives that will allow us to replace our dirty internal combustion engine vehicles with electric cars, trucks and transit buses.  


Of course, the cleaner the source of electricity for vehicles, and all other purposes, the cleaner the air becomes. Emissions from dirty energy utilities like Duke and FP&L that contribute half or more of our state’s smog will also need to decline by their finally switching from burning dirty coal to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses. The result: the many Floridians who now suffer will be free to play and walk outside every day without fear of further damaging their lungs.

*Smoggiest of all is Hillsborough, with Sarasota & Orange almost as bad. Manatee, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Osceola, Seminole, Bay, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia also have unhealthy levels of smog.

Phil Compton, FL Healthy Air Campaign
Tim Heberlein, FL Beyond Coal Campaign
St. Petersburg, FL 727-824-8813

Sierra Club to PSC -- Don't Let FPL Bill Ratepayers for Fracking

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2014

Contact: Frank Jackalone frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org


Sierra Club to Florida Public Service Commission:  
Reject Advanced Billing for Oklahoma Fracking

Decision to Approve FP&L Petition to Explore Fracking at Expense of Customers to be Determined

Tallahassee – Tomorrow the Florida Public Service Commission will deliberate on a historic rate case that could drastically impact how utilities do business in Florida for years to come. Florida Power & Light has petitioned to expand its business by entering into a high-risk natural gas exploration at the expense of ratepayers. Duke Energy could follow suit with similar requests for fracking exploration.

If approved by the PSC, FP&L could charge its customers up to $750 million a year for a fracking project in Oklahoma without a guaranteed rate of return for customers. In essence, FP&L would shift all shareholder risks of investing in energy projects to customers, thereby eliminating shareholder risks and maximizing shareholder profits. The proposed project by FP&L is a speculative investment at best. At worst FP&L customers could wind up footing the bill for an expensive project that will yield nothing, similar to Duke Energy customers who paid for a nuclear power plant that was never built. 

According to the Office of Public Council brief filed against the FP&L petition, “customers will pay FPL and its shareholders approximately $709.4 million to potentially save approximately $51.9 million in fuel ove50 yearsWhile this estimated, projected, bunot guaranteed $51.9 million in fuel savings amounts to lesthan 2 cents a month fothe next 50 years when broken down per customer, FPL's shareholders will receive a fixed 10.5% return or guaranteed profit on the investment.”

Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida’s Staff Director said: “The PSC already gave utilities a huge gift by gutting energy efficiency standards by more than 90 percent last month. It’s time for the PSC to stand up for ratepayers and deny this petition by FP&L.”

Fracking for natural gas damages the land, pollutes water and air, and causes illness in surrounding communities. Even if one considers only the carbon emitted from burning gas and ignores the methane released during production and transport, the latest studies from the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveal that a switch from coal to gas would lead to a global temperature rise of more than 3.5 degrees Celsius (approx. 7° F).

”The better alternative is for the Public Service Commission to lead our big power companies soon to a future of reliable electricity generated for us by clean energy sources free of fossil fuels—using sun, wind, geothermal, biomass and large-scale energy storage systems.  Only by immediate action will we avoid unprecedented disruption of our climate,” said Tom Larson, volunteer co-lead of the Sierra Club Florida Energy & Climate Action Team.

The Public Service Commission will meet on Thursday, December 18th at 9:30 am to discuss this and other matters before the commission.