Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Press Release: Dozens of elected leaders ask Governor and Legislature to purchase sugar lands

For immediate release:

Dozens of elected leaders ask Governor and Legislature to purchase sugar lands

Senator Joe Negron praised at Stuart & Captiva events

(April 29, 2015) As toxic green algae once again spoiled the St. Lucie River, elected officials, community and business leaders, chamber of commerce officials, and environmental activists in Lee and Martin counties ratcheted up demands to stop dumping water to the coasts and buy sugar land to send it south to the Everglades instead.

At events in Stuart and on Captiva Island, advocates released letters signed by 25 municipal and county-level elected officials and resolutions approved by 11 counties and cities resolutions asking Florida Governor Rick Scott and Legislative leaders to fund the purchase of 46,000 acres of land owned by the US Sugar Corporation.  Signatories included mayors, council members and commissioners from Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Lee, Collier, St. Lucie and Martin counties, including the City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado .

Leaders also thanked Senator Joe Negron for his plan to introduce legislation that could fund the U.S Sugar purchase through Amendment 1 and urged him to keep going until the job is done.

The events focused on ecological and economic loss backed by a Florida Realtors study that showed that polluting the St. Lucie had resulted in millions of dollars in home value losses.

The Stuart event had 90 attendees. Participants waved signs and unfurled a banner saying “With Joe we stand, let’s buy the land” that was signed by rally attendees and will be delivered to the Senator once he is back at his district office between the regular and special legislative sessions.  Speakers included Martin County Commissioner Ed Fielding and City of Stuart Commissioners Troy McDonald and St. Lucie Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky.

Meanwhile,approximately 75 people attended the Captiva event highlighting the interconnection of clean water to the value of their businesses. Twenty business leaders spoke out from  businesses representing   the Sanibel Captiva Association of Realtors, Chambers of Commerce from Sanibel Captiva and Fort Myers Beach , Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau and  Jensens Twin Palms Marina, restaurant,tour boat operators,  hotel owners and fishing guides with a unified message to buy the land.

Last week, the Army Corps stopped dumping water from Lake Okeechobee because water leading to the St. Lucie was covered in green slime. It has since been tested positive for blue-green algae and health advisory signs have gone up.

There has been broad public support for exercising the 48,600 acre purchase option in the US Sugar contract, but Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature have so far failed to act. As polluted water is dumped to the coasts, the Everglades’ multibillion dollar restoration project is starving for water. The solution, according to the scientific community, is to pursue 48,600 acres of sugar land to store and clean the water. 


For elected officials' letters and county and municipal resolutions in support of the U.S. Sugar purchase, click here.

For photos of today's events, go to:

East Coast event: Cris Costello, 941-914-0421, (cell), Mark Perry, 772-486-3858. West Coast event, Rae Ann Wessel, 239-246-0100


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Alert! - Water Bill on Senate Floor Tomorrow - Calls Needed!

Dear Friends,

This was supposed to be the year of water - it wasn’t. 
It gives us no joy to send out this joint statement calling for a No Vote on Senate Bill 918.  Each of the organizations signed onto this alert has worked for more than a year and a half with Sens. Dean, Simmons, Montford, Hays, and Simpson to draft legislation that will protect Florida’s springs.
Despite Sen. Dean’s best efforts and intentions, lobbyists for regulated industries and agriculture have managed to turn SB 918, the Senate water bill, from a bill that protects Florida’s springs to one that threatens all Florida waterbodies. SB 918 will be on the Senate floor tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29. Please phone the Senators for your County and urge them to vote NO on SB 918 or any bill that is taken up in its place.
1.       Please phone the Senators from your county -- a list of all Senators including the areas they represent or find your Senator. 
2.       Please email all Senatorscopy and paste this list into your email. 

Why Vote No?
Last year, during a Committee meeting on proposed springs legislation, Senate President Andy Gardiner told industry lobbyists, “You’re not going to study us to death on this one and you’re not going to run out the clock… Members come and go, but good policy stays, and I believe this is something we will be able to be proud of.” Unfortunately, Senate Bill 918 fails to meet President Gardiner’s call.

The House started the water debate by passing a 94-page bill on the third day of session with only one committee hearing at which DEP said it hadn’t even finished reviewing the bill. It was full of gifts for agriculture and industry, but almost empty on good policy to protect our waters.

The Senate took up the House’s bad policy language while, at the same time, weakening the good springs protections measures found in earlier drafts of SB 918. The bill headed to the Floor on Wednesday will not protect our waters:

Lake Okeechobee/Everglades/Estuaries – SB 918 abandons the existing water quality permitting program which regulates pollutants entering and discharging from Lake Okeechobee. These pollutants affect the health of Lake Okeechobee and contribute to the terrible algae blooms on Florida’s east and west coasts, like the algae bloom spotted this weekend heading from the Lake to the St. Lucie Estuary.

State Water Policy – SB 918 continues to rely on ineffective stakeholder-driven Basin Management Action Plans and Best Management Practices to improve water quality and adopts state water supply policy founded on the fantasy that no matter how many people come to the state, there will always be a way to provide them with whatever water they desire. Most troubling, to accomplish this goal the legislature plans to spend taxpayer money on private water supply projects for large agricultural corporations and utilities and to tie the hands of water management districts if they try to limit water withdrawals and protect our waters.

Springs – Springs legislation proposed at the beginning of the 2014 legislative session was championed by environmental groups because of its strengthened environmental standards, ambitious deadlines, new regulatory prohibitions, and significant funding. Unfortunately, a year and a half later, most of these protections have been stripped away.  The current bill would do very little to accelerate the restoration of Florida’s iconic, but highly degraded, springs.

Water Conservation – SB 918 prioritizes unsustainable surface water withdrawals over sustainable water conservation. If we as a state do not live within our water means, any environmental gains from springs protection will be lost.

This is not a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good, but of a good bill ruined by the influence of special interests and the very state agencies should be protecting our environment. The good news is that Senate President Gardiner and Sen. Dean have another year.   Florida can do the right thing for our water in the 2016 session. 

Call or write your Senator today and tell them that SB 918 will not protect or restore our springs, that it endangers Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries and the Everglades, and that it moves state water policy in the wrong direction. Urge Senators to VOTE NO on SB 918.

To email all Senators, copy and paste this into your email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,



Sunday, April 26, 2015

ALERT! Fracking bills on Senate Floor Tuesday, April 28 - Calls Needed Monday!

The House will almost certainly pass the two fracking bills in that chamber Monday which means the only chance to stop them is in the Senate where they will come to the Floor on Tuesday.

On Monday, please call YOUR Senator, tell them you live in their district, and urge them to vote against SB 1468, the Fracking ‘Regulation’ bill and SB 1582, the public record exemption bill that allows fracking companies to hide the toxic chemicals they use from the public.   Phone calls are much more effective than emails.

Then, contact all the Senators who represent your county (use Ctr+F for the search function and enter your county), tell them you live in their county, and urge them to vote No on both bills.

Finally, send an email to all Senators using the aggregated addresses at the bottom of the contact information.

One more thing - please forward this alert to your networks. Thanks!

Contact information and talking points are below.  This may be the most important call you make this year.

Full Senate 2015

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo
Consists of part of Palm Beach county
Sen. Thad Altman
Consists of parts of Brevard, Indian River counties
Sen. Aaron  Bean
Consists of Nassau county and part of Duval county
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto
Consists of parts of Charlotte, Lee counties
Sen. Rob Bradley
Consists of Alachua, Bradford, Clay counties
Sen. Jeff Brandes
Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas counties
Sen. Oscar Braynon
Consists of parts of Broward, Miami-Dade counties
Sen. Dwight Bullard
Consists of Hendry, Monroe counties and parts of Collier, Miami-Dade counties
Sen. Jeff Clemens
Consists of part of Palm Beach county
Sen. Charles Dean
Consists of Baker, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee, Union counties and part of Marion county
Sen. Nancy Detert
Consists of Sarasota county and part of Charlotte county
Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla
Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Greg Evers
Consists of Escambia, Santa Rosa counties and part of Okaloosa county
Sen. Anitere Flores
Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Don Gaetz
Consists of Bay, Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Okaloosa county
Sen. Bill Galvano
Consists of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee counties and parts of Charlotte, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee counties
Sen. Rene Garcia
Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Andy  Gardiner
Consists of parts of Brevard, Orange counties
Sen. Audrey Gibson
Consists of part of Duval county
Sen. Denise Grimsley
Consists of Okeechobee county and parts of Highlands, Martin, Osceola, Polk, St. Lucie counties
Sen. Alan Hays
Consists of parts of Lake, Marion, Orange, Sumter counties
Sen. Dorothy Hukill
Consists of parts of Lake, Marion, Volusia counties
Sen. Arthenia Joyner
Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas counties
Sen. Jack Latvala
Consists of part of Pinellas county
Sen. Tom Lee
Consists of part of Hillsborough county
Sen. John Legg
Consists of parts of Hillsborough, Pasco counties
Sen. Gwen Margolis
Consists of part of Miami-Dade county
Sen. Bill Montford
Consists of Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla counties
Sen. Joe Negron
Consists of parts of Indian River, Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie counties
Sen. Garrett Richter
Consists of parts of Collier, Lee counties
Sen. Jeremy Ring
Consists of part of Broward county
Sen. Maria Sachs
Consists of parts of Broward, Palm Beach counties
Sen. David Simmons
Consists of Seminole county and part of Volusia county
Sen. Wilton Simpson
Consists of Hernando county and parts of Pasco, Sumter counties
Sen. Christopher Smith
Consists of part of Broward county
Sen. Eleanor Sobel
Consists of part of Broward county
Sen. Darren Soto
Consists of parts of Orange, Osceola, Polk counties
Sen. Kelli Stargel
Consists of parts of Orange, Osceola, Polk counties
Sen. Geraldine Thompson
Consists of part of Orange county
Sen. Travis Hutson
Consists of Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns counties and part of Volusia county

Talking Points
Fracking: Scope of bills
The definition of “high pressure well stimulation” excludes activities that inject toxic chemicals using less than 100,000 gallons or lower pressure than the “fracture gradient of the rock.”  The bill’s proposed regulation would not have covered the acidization treatment of the Collier-Hogan well.

Public Denied Information in time to ACT on it - They may NEVER get it.
Delay or denial of disclosure of toxic chemicals transforms the situation for members of the public from one in which they have information they can act on before chemicals are injected, even if it’s just to move away to protect their family, to one in which they might find out about the toxics after they’ve been  injected.

Disclosure Denied in SB 1468 and SB 1582
SB 1468 prevents disclosure to the public for a full year on the request of the well operator or indefinitely on the mere claim of “proprietary business information”.

Disclosure to FracFocus is not required until 60 days after the chemicals are injected and FracFocus does not publish “proprietary business information”

DEP is prohibited from disclosing chemicals when confidentiality is claimed in SB 1582.

Chemical ingredients are specifically exempted from disclosure requirements in SB 1468 if they are claimed as “proprietary business information”. 

Court process and delay in SB 1582
When a member of the public requests “proprietary business information” from DEP the delay begins:
  • 30 days for the well operator to file an action in circuit court
  • an indefinite period of time until the court date
  • any delays in the court case - discovery, depositions, continuances, etc.
  • any appeals
DEP is prohibited from releasing the information “pending the outcome of the legal action” (ll. 40-51 of SB 1582)

1468 and 1582 make it easy to Claim and Retain Confidentiality and Exemption from Disclosure
There is a very low bar to claim or retain confidentiality for “proprietary business information.”
To claim confidentiality and exemption for “proprietary business information” they are only required to:
  1. Request confidentiality
  2. Inform DEP of basis of claim (business advantage and they’ve kept it secret)
  3. Mark each  page “proprietary business information”

To retain confidentiality and exemption in court, they only have to show the information:
  1. Is owned or controlled by the applicant
  2. It is intended to be private and is treated that way to protect the business
  3. Has not been disclosed except as required  by law or through a licensing agreement
  4. Is not publicly available