Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sierra Club Florida 2015 Legislative Platform

This week, Sierra Club Florida established its Legislative Policy Platform for the 2015 session.  

We encourage members to promote the following policies in dialog with legislators (call 'em up and schedule a visit on a matter in which you are interested); support this platform in conversation with your neighbors, workmates and friends; tell your local area officials about our interests--help them understand what we are proposing.  Our representatives in Tallahassee will be focusing on key bills that are affected by this platform and educating officials on the whys and ways that would serve these goals.


If you'd like to learn more about these subjects, to follow doings in and about Tallahassee, sign up for the Florida Report at www.sierraclub.org/memberlists, a periodic email from the Sierra Club about its lobbying efforts and how you can support them.


In coming weeks, from time to time legislative committees will continue meeting, our lobbyists and volunteers will be visiting legislators and their staffs and several environmentally-oriented rallies and "lobby days" will be organized--stay tuned here or sign up for the Sierra Club Florida Report to learn more.

Our principally chapter-funded lobbyist is Dave Cullen, returning to serve us for his 8th year at the Capitol.  One can reach him at: 941-323-2404.  His email address is: cullenasea@aol.com. Please contact him for advice, referral, or with information that pertains to effecting our platform.  He's pretty busy, but regularly communicative--your contact may be referred to a supportive Sierra Club volunteer or staff member with expertise relating to your inquiry.

After much consideration and learning--by volunteer members and staff from around the state, Sierra Club Florida recommends the people's representatives to the legislature of the state of Florida take action to undertake these policy positions:

WASTE MINIMIZATION / RECYCLING
Support all lifecycle-cost-effective recycling to achieve 75% waste reduction. Mandate recycling and ban biodegradables from landfills. Develop markets for recycled materials and promote products made from them. Real recycling saves energy and conserves natural resources.
Support anaerobic digestion of biodegradables to harvest methane for energy generation and use residual materials for soil amendments.
Support beverage container deposit; a cost or ban on single-use plastic bags, disposable foam cups and plates, and containers; and take-back programs for wastes with no recycling market due to hazardous, biological, or chemically or physically-bound constituent materials that would be uneconomical (or illegal) to separate for reuse or remanufacture.
Oppose counting the incineration of municipal solid waste to retrieve its chemical energy towards the 75% goal, because it squanders the energy used to obtain, process, package, and transport virgin materials to market. Non-renewable components of municipal solid waste such as petroleum-based plastics should not be defined as renewable fuels.
CLEAN ENERGY
Goal: Florida’s energy grid will be free of fossil fuels by the year 2030.
Rationale: It is imperative to reduce carbon pollution and to mitigate the long-term effects of climate change, including sea level rise and other impacts on human health, habitat, and natural resources, as well as reduce risks to our financial security and national security. The impact of sea level rise is an existential threat to the communities of our state.
Support government-led programs, public-private partnerships and economic/tax incentives advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency to replace power systems that rely on fossil and nuclear fuels, with intermediate goals of at least 25% renewable energy and 10% energy savings from all-cost-effective efficiency and conservation of by 2020.
Support power company rates and profits decoupling, along with restoration of competition into Florida’s utility regulation that supports distributed energy opportunity, clean energy jobs and utility innovation to better serve consumers—citizen and business interests.
Support expediting Florida’s transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy that utilizes new technology and creates new jobs. Oppose new extraction of fossil fuels in Florida.
Oppose fracking for natural gas and oil in Florida
Support policies to enable a transition from centralized power to distributed power systems in which electric utilities manage and maximize the efficiency and reliability of the distribution of power on the grid. Right-size power generation.
Oppose development of new nuclear reactors for electrical power in Florida. Existing reactors should complete their useful economic lifespan, but should not be allowed to expand. Costs associated with the development or enhancement of nuclear power are investments that should be borne by stockholders, not customers. We oppose advance nuclear construction cost recovery, before generation is operational.
Oppose use of state or native forests for biomass production and oppose the conversion of those forests to non-native species for biomass production.
MASS TRANSIT AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Support existing mass transit and legislation promoting alternatives to automobile use. Mass transit infrastructure should be co-located in existing transportation corridors to minimize impacts on natural lands, air, water, and wildlife. Transportation planners (MPOs & cities/counties) should be directed by state policy and funding to foster urban density, lead transit-oriented development, and reduce our dependence on automobiles.
Support incentives for electric public transit buses and associated infrastructure.
Support allocation of state transportation funds towards the state's share of funding for mass transit projects, including construction of lanes dedicated to rapid bus transit and right of way acquisition and construction of inter-regional light rail systems. 
Support requiring the inclusion of state transportation funds for the construction of bicycle barrier lanes that provide a physical barrier between bicycles and passenger vehicles in high-risk areas.
Support the improvement of pedestrian safety with state support for such necessary improvements as municipal and county redesign of intersections and the creation of additional crosswalks on hazardous public roads. 
Support and expand policies that incentivize the deployment of electric vehicles through parking policies, charging station and associated infrastructure incentives for local government, labeling and price-posting requirements, and deregulation of electric vehicle charging services by a non-utility.
Support providing tax exemptions and rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
Support defining electricity as an alternative fuel and Oppose subordinating it to other fuels, particularly natural gas and other fossil fuels, in statute or rule.
WILDLIFE CORRIDORS AND HABITAT PROTECTION
Support funding for the conservation or preservation of crucial wildlife habitat in perpetuity through fee-simple acquisition or less than fee-simple acquisition of conservation easements.
Support acquisition of high quality wildlife habitat and conservation of agricultural lands and corridors that would connect or buffer existing protected lands and priority functional habitats especially for wide ranging species like Florida panthers and black bear. Fully fund Florida Forever!
Oppose expansion of new or existing transportation corridors or new interchanges that will facilitate development on wild or agricultural lands or bisect regionally significant wildlife corridors.
Oppose Off Road Vehicles trails expansion in conservation lands. Support user fees for established ORV areas sufficient to remediate environmental damage they cause.
Support development of improved standards for siting utility generation and transmission facilities to protect natural and conservation lands.
DEMOCRACY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Support unfettered citizen access to voter registration and the polls. Support Campaign finance reform. Ensure citizens’ right to freely engage in the ballot initiative process without undue obstacles.
Support public notice, public access, and public participation in permitting, Dept. of Administrative Hearings, and civil proceedings.
Oppose unbalancing the procedural and legal playing field by such means as shifting the burden of proof from agencies to citizens, narrowing standing, reducing notice, adopting presumptions of compliance or changing standards of proof to disadvantage citizens seeking to defend their quality of life.
Support responsible funding for state agencies’ environmental missions. Oppose restrictions on citizen fact-finding and investigation.
Support protecting professional agency staff from undue influence in the performance of their duties.
GROWTH MANAGEMENT
Support the establishment of a formal open process for inter-departmental planning housed in the Governor’s office to coordinate agency input (DEP, FWCC, FDOT, DEO, e.g.) with that of applicable regional planning councils and water management districts; and to review and develop recommendations for an ACSC-like process for developments affecting “significant state resources.”
Support directing DEP, FWCC, DOS (Historical Resources) to provide DEO, by Dec. 31, 2015, with a comprehensive list of significant state resources the agencies will submit comments on whenever those resources will be affected by comprehensive plan amendments, sector plans, or DRIs.
Support a requirement that all new transportation corridor proposals be justified in terms of raw numbers, alignments, and a cost benefit analysis that includes: opportunity costs associated with developing the proposed corridor, increasing fuel costs, and a comparison with investment in upgrading or modifying existing facilities. Plans predicated on a 50-year time frame should include allowances for increased use of technologies that reduce the need for the physical transfer of goods and services (e.g. tele-everything, 3D printing, etc.)
Support placement of urban utility power transmission infrastructure underground in already impacted corridors, in the midst of presently developed areas, to improve resiliency to storms risks, reduce habitat intrusion and avoid unnecessary and costly urban sprawl.
Support infill and redevelopment to take advantage of existing infrastructure, services, and facilities.
Home Rule for Municipalities & Counties
Support protection of local government home rule for municipalities & counties. Oppose state preemption of local rules and ordinances more restrictive than state provisions. Support local referenda requirements, new or in‑place.
Support the ability of local governments to manage growth and determine land use according to comprehensive plans that enact or enforce stricter land use restrictions than the state’s without preemption.
Regional Transfer of Water
Oppose the transfer of underground and surface water from less populated parts of the state to provide water for development in highly populated areas. Support continuing “local-sources-first” water conservation and sustainable limits on water use.
Minimum Flows and Levels
Support expeditious establishment and enforcement of standards that are genuinely protective of the water resource for minimum flows and levels throughout the state. Support the protection of non-consumptive uses affecting all water bodies on water management district priority lists.
Support basing WMD Consumptive Use Permitting on water conservation, protection and restoration, and set CUP rules accordingly. Water use should be based on the determination of a safe yield that restores water systems to flows and levels above those significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area.
Oppose setting minimum flows that would further reduce or degrade freshwater systems. Water management districts must establish Resource Limited Areas and/or Water Use Caution Areas as appropriate to create recovery strategies for springsheds and rivers that are degraded below flows and levels significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area.
Water Management District Executive Director delegated authority
Support reversing the Executive Director delegation and require Water Management District governing boards to hold public hearings on applications for Part II and Part IV permits to allow the public to relay concerns about the allocation of natural resources in a timely way.
WETLANDS AND EVERGLADES PROTECTION
Wetland Regulation and Permitting
Support meaningful permitting requirements and procedures that protect natural resources and ensure their use is in the public interest. Oppose legislation diminishing the rights or standing of citizens and/or local governments acting to protect environmental resources and quality of life. Oppose self and professional certification without oversight, enforcement, and imposition of significant sanctions for wrongful certification.
Oppose changing the definition of the ordinary high water mark, which could trigger the loss of tens of thousands of acres of state-owned sovereign submerged lands at the edge of rivers, lakes and streams, transferring them to the ownership of adjacent riparian private interests.
Oppose delegation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetlands destruction permitting under Section 404 to the state of Florida.
Near and Off Shore Drilling for Oil/Natural Gas
Oppose near-shore drilling and the elimination of moratoria prohibiting off shore drilling.
Springs Restoration
Support comprehensive legislation and funding to restore Florida's endangered springs.
Everglades Restoration
Support full funding for Everglades restoration, to implement the recently approved water quality plan and to advance vital construction projects in accord with the comprehensive plan.
Support an additional 5.5 miles of bridging for the Tamiami Trail to restore Everglades water flow.
Oppose expansion of oil and gas drilling in the Everglades, Big Cypress, and other public and private lands in the Greater Everglades watershed that could impact water quality and threaten endangered species, such as the Florida Panther.
Support further acquisition of US Sugar lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and continue to support state Everglades conservation programs in partnership with the federal government.
Environmental Trust Funds
Oppose sweeps, diversions, or reallocations of Environmental Trust Funds to any other purpose.
Oppose the sale of conservation lands.
Support statutory implementation of the Florida Water & Land Legacy amendment to the Florida Constitution, respecting the mandate of the state’s voters, to focus on conservation land acquisition, as a legacy for our future.
NUTRIENT POLLUTION
Point and Non-Point Source Nutrient Pollution
Support the reduction of point and non-point source nutrient pollution that leads to harmful algal outbreaks in fresh and coastal waters that threaten waterfront economies and public health.
Support strengthening nutrient pollution control Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Fertilizer
Oppose preemption of local control of fertilizer management. Support a statewide ban on phosphorous in lawn fertilizer (the “P” in the N-P-K code on the bag).
Springs
Support strengthening regulatory authority to prevent and reduce nutrient pollution in the watersheds of Florida’s thirty-three (33) first-order springs.
Numeric Nutrient Criteria
Support the development, implementation, and enforcement of adequately protective numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s inland and coastal waters that will prevent toxic algae outbreaks. Enforceable standards protect public health, the tourist economy, and property rights.
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