Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ALERT! Calls Needed TODAY to Support Florida Forever Amendment!

The Senate will meet on Wednesday  to vote on, SB 2500, the General Appropriations Act (the budget).   The current Senate proposal provides only $2 million for Florida Forever, and the House is not much better at $10 million
But an important amendment that would provide $300 million for land acquisition under Florida Forever has been filed by Sen. Thad Altman (R - Brevard and Indian River counties). The amendment would also provide $15 million for state parks and $20 million for Kissimmee River land acquisition. 
The Altman amendment is a chance for the Senate to fulfill the intent of the 4.2 million Floridians who voted for Amendment 1 by an overwhelming 75% because they know conservation lands are important for Florida’s future.  Please call these Senators today and urge them to Vote YES on the Altman amendment.  It is amendment number 24, barcode 995031, and it can be seen here: http://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2015/2500/Amendment/995031/HTML
I’ve listed the Senators to contact in district order below.  The lowest numbered districts are in the Western Panhandle and the highest are in South East Florida.  Please make sure you contact the  Senator who represents  your area first.  Just look for the County you live in in the middle column.  The emails are also aggregated at the bottom of the contact list.  Thanks for all you do!
Capitol Phone
Sen. Don Gaetz
Senate Appropriations
Consists of Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Okaloosa county
Sen. Aaron  Bean

Consists of Nassau county and part of Duval county
Sen. Charles Dean

Consists of Baker, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee, Union counties and part of Marion county
Sen. Rob Bradley

Consists of Alachua, Bradford, Clay counties
Sen. Dorothy Hukill

Consists of parts of Lake, Marion, Volusia counties
Sen. David Simmons
Senate Appropriations
Consists of Seminole county and part of Volusia county
Sen. John Legg

Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Pasco counties
Sen. Arthenia Joyner

Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas counties
Sen. Jack Latvala
Senate Appropriations
Consists of part of Pinellas county
Sen. Denise Grimsley
Senate Appropriations
Consists of Okeechobee county and parts of Highlands, Martin, Osceola, Polk, St. Lucie counties
Sen. Jeff Brandes

Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas counties
Sen. Garrett Richter
Senate Appropriations
Consists of parts of Collier, Lee counties
Sen. Bill Galvano
Senate Appropriations
Consists of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee counties and parts of Charlotte, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee counties
Sen. Jeff Clemens

Consists of part of Palm Beach county
Sen. Nancy Detert

Consists of Sarasota county and part of Charlotte county
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto
Senate Appropriations
Consists of parts of Charlotte, Lee counties
Sen. Christopher Smith

Consists of part of Broward county

Sen. Joe Negron
Senate Appropriations
Consists of parts of Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie counties
Sen. Maria Sachs

Consists of parts of Broward, Palm Beach counties
Sen. Anitere Flores

Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Rene Garcia

Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla

Consists of part of Miami-Dade county

negron.joe.web@flsenate.gov, benacquisto.lizbeth.web@flsenate.gov, gaetz.don.web@flsenate.gov, galvano.bill.web@flsenate.gov, grimsley.denise.web@flsenate.gov, richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov, latvala.jack.web@flsenate.gov, simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov, bean.aaron.web@flsenate.gov, bradley.rob.web@flsenate.gov, brandes.jeff.web@flsenate.gov, dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov, detert.nancy.web@flsenate.gov, portilla.miguel.web@flsenate.gov, flores.anitere.web@flsenate.gov, garcia.rene.web@flsenate.gov, hukill.dorothy.web@flsenate.gov, legg.john.web@flsenate.gov, joyner.arthenia.web@flsenate.gov, smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov, clemens.jeff.web@flsenate.gov, sachs.maria.web@flsenate.gov, 

Monday, March 30, 2015

ALERT! Fracking and Septage in Senate Committee on Tuesday - Calls Needed Now!

The Senate Environmental Protection and Conservation Committee will hear two bills on fracking and one bill to repeal the prohibition on the land application of septage (what is pumped out of septic tanks).  The bills will be heard on Tuesday, March 31 at 1:30 p.m.  Please call Committee members and urge them to vote NO on these bills.  Talking points are below the committee contact information.

Note: Sen. Evers is the sponsor of the Land Application of Septage bill (SB 648) so it would be better not to ask him to vote against his own bill.  However, asking him to withdraw it would be appropriate.   To avoid confusion I have aggregated the committee emails without  including Sen. Evers’ address.  His email is provided in the committee list.

                 Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation 2015
Sen. Charles Dean, Chair                850-487-5005     dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Wilton Simpson, V. Chair     850-487-5018     simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Thad Altman                             850-487-5016     altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Greg Evers                                 850-487-5002     evers.greg.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Alan Hays                                   850-487-5011     hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. David Simmons                        850-487-5010     simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Christopher Smith                  850-487-5031     smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov
Sen. Darren Soto                               850-487-5014     soto.darren.web@flsenate.gov 

(Sen. Evers is  not included in this aggregated list.)
dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov, simpson.wilton.web@flsenate.gov, altman.thad.web@flsenate.gov, hays.alan.web@flsenate.gov, simmons.david.web@flsenate.gov, smith.chris.web@flsenate.gov, soto.darren.web@flsenate.gov,

Talking points:
SB 0648  by Senator Evers—Land Application of Septage
This bill would eliminate the scheduled prohibition against land applying septage (and all the nutrients it contains).  Currently these application sites are under the Department of Health (DOH) and regulations are directed at preventing the spread of disease, not algae causing nitrite - nitrates.  Those nutrients can either infiltrate to groundwater or run off into water bodies.

There are 88 DOH permitted land application sites and almost 2/3 of them are in the Springs Protection Area.  This area has highly karstic geology (fractured limestone) that is known for sinkholes and conduits that can rapidly convey groundwater to springs.

The bill ignores water quality issues completely and doubles down on the least important issues such as requiring electronic pH meters instead of paper strips.  (Lime is added to septage to kill pathogens by raising the pH level to 12 for two hours or 12.5 for 30 minutes, but changing the pH does nothing to remove nitrogen or phosphorous from septage.  And electronic pH meters won’t do anything about nutrients either.)

There is no requirement in the current rule (64E-6.010) to measure how much of the nutrient load is absorbed by vegetation, and it even permits spreading septage on unvegetated soil.  A good strong rain will drive those nutrients down toward the groundwater and aquifer. 

Prohibiting the land application of septage in the Everglades area has proved effective in reducing groundwater contamination there.  Surely our springs deserve the same protection.

The two fracking bills have to be considered together - they are inextricably linked.   

SB 1468 by Senator Richter—Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources
This bill would require a permit for fracking (very narrowly defined) and offer inadequate regulation of the practice.  No regulation or permitting regime can guarantee Florida’s drinking water will not be contaminated and with the availability of renewable energy there is no good reason to expose residents and visitors to this risk. 

SB 1582 by Senator Richter—Public Records/High-pressure Well Stimulation Chemical Disclosure Registry
This bill would prevent citizens from finding out what toxic chemicals are being injected into the ground and threatening contamination of the water supply under the guise of protecting “proprietary business information” from misappropriation by other well operators.  It puts a blindfold on residents who want to protect their family’s health and their property’s value.

Fracking Issues aside from … Dare I say it? … “climate change”
·         There is no way to be sure of identifying and adequately plugging/recasing/sealing all possible abandoned wells within a sufficient radius of the fracking well and horizontal branches (this must take subterranean natural faults into consideration as well as man-made conduits.  Yet casings fail.  All technologies fail eventually in some number of cases.  While the probability of failure may be small, the risk is huge - contaminating the aquifer people use for drinking water would be catastrophic.   

·         Physicians and first responders have no way of getting information to save the lives of victims in case of an accident, or to protect themselves from exposure to toxins.

·         'Proprietary business information' or 'trade secrets' non-disclosure provisions deny citizens the right to know about, and do something about, what may be a proximate threat to their health, safety, and property.

·         There are no federal protections from fracking’s impact on drinking water thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that exempted fracking from regulation of underground injection in the Safe Drinking Water Act (the Halliburton loophole).  Numerous other exemptions for fracking have been adopted at the federal level: the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; the National Environmental Policy Act; and the Toxic Release Inventory of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Beyond Coal Speaks with Lakeland Electric Leaders

Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign met with the General Manager of Lakeland Electric (LE), Joel Ivy and Senior Staff last week and also got a chance to tour the McIntosh Power Plant.  Lakeland Electric is a municipal power company serving 120,000 customers and was the first utility to sell power in the state of Florida.

Ancient Island Group members Bruce Kistler and John Ryan were joined by Beyond Coal
staff Kelly Martin and Tim Heberlein to meet Mr Ivy and Asst Gen. Manager Farzie Shelton to talk about their solar power production and the Clean Power Plan.  

Lakeland Electric told Sierra Club members that they currently have a 5 MW solar project (one of the largest in the state) and they are scheduled to expand to 24 MW by 2017. 

Sierra Club members spoke in favor of LE's investment in solar and clean renewable sources, and in favor of strong pollution controls for coal power production, like McIntosh's #3 reactor.  Mr. Ivy agreed to keep conversations with the Sierra Club going to figure out how to meet the new EPA Clean Power Plan Guidelines.

Sierra Club members then took a tour of the McIntosh plant which houses 4 power plants.  2 of them were the 364-MW Coal Plant (#3) and the 365-MW Combined Cycle Natural Gas Plant (#5).  

Sierra Club Beyond Coal and Lakeland Electric had a very constructive conversation with Mr. Ivy and staff and a very informative tour of the McIntosh plant.  Both agreed to keep the lines of communication open and will continue to have this conversation on how to meet Florida's current and future energy needs.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ALERT! Fracking Disclosure Exemption in Committee 8 AM, Tuesday

A fracking bill that will allow well operators to hide the chemicals they use from the public will be heard in the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.  Please call the Committee members below to urge them to vote NO on the bill.  Phone calls are better than a mass email.  Please take a few minutes to reach out to them. 

Talking points:

  •          If this bill becomes law, Floridians will not be able to find out about the worst chemicals frackers inject through their aquifer because they’ll be kept secret.
  •       There is no federal protection available under the Clean Water Act (which deals with surface waters) or the Safe Drinking Water Act which was amended to exclude fracking from its definition of “underground injection” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act thanks to VP Cheney’s Energy Task Force (§ 300h(d)(1)(B)(ii))
  •        HB 1209 disguises its true intention by claiming to be about preventing one business from stealing “proprietary business information” (trade secrets) from another.  In reality it is designed to gut the disclosure provisions of the bill it is linked to, HB 1205 titled Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources, also by Rep. Rodrigues.
  •       The bill does an end run around the public interest by misappropriating the rationale for trade   secrets for its true purpose of avoiding public scrutiny
  •       HB 1209 is similar to the relevant parts of an ALEC model bill that can be seen here: http://www.alec.org/model-legislation/the-disclosure-of-hydraulic-fracturing-fluid-composition-act/   The ALEC bill includes the disclosure and trade secrets language in one bill, but the Florida version requires two bills because of Florida’s Constitutional requirement that public records exemptions be in a stand-alone bill.

Here’s why the oil and gas industry wants “proprietary business information” (trade secrets) confidential. Well operators can mark the most toxic chemicals as proprietary and DEP is bound to keep them secret.  If someone requests the information DEP has to tell the well operator of the request and they get ten days to go to court to get an order barring disclosure of the information. The judge has to follow what is in statute in making a determination whether it truly is “proprietary business information” or not.  The outcome is a foregone conclusion because the bill defines it in statute and the judge will always have to issue an order banning disclosure:

From the text of HB 1209 
53           (b) Proprietary business information relating to high-
54 pressure well stimulations held by the department in connection
55 with the online high-pressure well stimulation chemical
56 disclosure registry, are confidential and exempt from s.
57 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution if the
58 person submitting such information to the department:
59           1. Requests that the proprietary business information be
60 kept confidential and exempt.
61           2. Informs the department of the basis for claiming that
62 the information is proprietary business information.
63           3. Clearly marks each page of a document or specific
64 portion of a document containing information claimed to be
65 proprietary business information as "proprietary business
66 information."

As long as a well operator follows those simple instructions, no member of the public will ever find out what is being injected into their drinking water supply.  And if they don’t know about it they can’t try to do anything about it.

Please call these members' offices today.  Be polite, but make sure they know this is just plain wrong.
Thank you for Acting!

House Government Operations Subcommittee 2015
Rep. Michael Bileca, Chair          850-717-5115           michael.bileca@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. David  Santiago, V. Chair   850-717-5027           david.santiago@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Jason Brodeur                       850-717-5028           jason.brodeur@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. John Cortes                            850-717-5043           john.cortes@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Jay Fant                                   850-717-5015           jay.fant@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Blaise Ingoglia                       850-717-5035           blaise.ingoglia@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Edwin Narain                         850-717-5061           edwin.narain@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Marlene O'Toole                  850-717-5033           marlene.otoole@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Kevin Rader                           850-717-5081           kevin.rader@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Ken  Roberson                      850-717-5075           ken.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Jimmie Smith                         850-717-5034           jimmie.smith@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Dwayne  Taylor                     850-717-5026           dwayne.taylor@myfloridahouse.gov
Rep. Ritch  Workman                    850-717-5052           ritch.workman@myfloridahouse.gov

michael.bileca@myfloridahouse.gov, david.santiago@myfloridahouse.gov, jason.brodeur@myfloridahouse.gov, john.cortes@myfloridahouse.gov, jay.fant@myfloridahouse.gov, blaise.ingoglia@myfloridahouse.gov, edwin.narain@myfloridahouse.gov, marlene.otoole@myfloridahouse.gov, kevin.rader@myfloridahouse.gov, ken.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov, jimmie.smith@myfloridahouse.gov, dwayne.taylor@myfloridahouse.gov , ritch.workman@myfloridahouse.gov

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sierra Club charged up by Miami electric grand prix

Miami ePrix race. Photo by Mike Matthews.
Sierra Club members and supporters cheered as electric race cars hit top speeds of 140 miles per hour through the streets of downtown Miami last Saturday. But this was no typical race. Formula E cars run only on electricity and make no noise except for the faint whir of electric motors.

"I loved talking to EV owners and ePrix race fans," said Debbie Matthews Sierra Club Florida Chairwoman.  "You got the feeling that you were at the start of something really special.  Hearing owners talk about their EVs almost made you feel like they were proud to be part of a movement; they are part of  a clean energy solution."

Fans marvel at electric cars. Photo by Mike Matthews
Miami is one of only two U.S. cities to host in ePrix's inaugural season, spanning 10 cities in Europe, South America and Asia. Several hundred Sierra Club members and supporters are believed to have attended the race, which brought 20,000 fans to downtown Miami.

Before the race, fans could learn more about electric vehicles in the nearby eVillage. BMW electric cars and  Florida Power and Light solar phone charging and miniature car racing stations were just some of the cool displays. Area high schools got in on the action, by building and racing their own electric cars.

Also on display: the Venturi VBB-3, the world’s most powerful electric vehicle, a 12-meter-long rocket packing 3,000 hp that aims to break the 600-kph barrier (372 mph) this year.

Venturi VBB-3, the world's fastest electric car
Photo by Mike Matthews.
The Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicle campaign saw the Miami ePrix as a catalyst for electric vehicle adoption. Miami has much to gain by a reduction in fossil fuels. This coastal region of six million people, lying only a few feet above sea level, is ground zero for sea level rise.

Tesla, Leaf and Volt owners flocked to the race, as well as many others who hope to soon upgrade to an electric vehicle.

"It's really captured the imagination of quite a few people who are excited about what the future of electronic technology in road cars is going to be like,” ePrix spokesperson Luca Colajanni told National Geographic.

Photo by Mike Matthews.
Formula E cars can accelerate from zero to 60 in 3 seconds. Instead of swapping batteries, drivers hop into a new car halfway through the 39-lap race. Fans can vote for their favorite players on-line giving them an extra boost of power. ePrix teams are backed by some big names like Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

French driver Nicolas Prost, oldest son of four-time Formula One World Drivers' champion Alain Prost, won the Miami race, narrowly beating American driver Scott Speed.

Long Beach, CA, will host the final race on April 4.

Click here for a short Fox Sports video recap of the race.

Thinking about buying an electric car? Check out the Sierra Club's EV Guide and more about our Go Electric campaign.

Here's a video of the entire race:

-- Jon Ullman, Sierra Club Senior Organizer, Electric Vehicle campaign