Friday, October 30, 2015

ACTION ALERT: Fracking Bill up in Committee Next Tuesday


A Texas gas drilling rig
By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)

HB 191 - Regulation of Oil and Gas  by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, will be heard in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee next Tuesday, November 3 at noon.  Please contact the members of the committee to urge them to vote NO on this bill.  Also, contact your personal Representative and Senator and urge them to stop the bills permitting fracking.   Committee member contact information is below. 

There are currently six fracking bills filed this year.  A brief explanation of each is included at the bottom of this alert.  Please take a minute to go through it so you’ll know which are good, which are bad, and which legislators are behind them.  (The sponsor of the bad bill HB 191 - the subject of this alert, is Rep. Rodrigues (with an ‘s’) who could easily be confused with Rep.Javier Rodriguez (with a ‘z’) the sponsor of a good Constitutional amendment to ban fracking, e.g.)

     House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee 2016

Rep. Tom Goodson, Chair  850-717-5050

Rep. Jake Raburn, V Chair  850-717-5057

Rep. Jim Boyd                     850-717-5071

Rep. Neil Combee              850-717-5039

Rep. Brad Drake                 850-717-5005

Rep. Bobby DuBose            850-717-5094

Rep. Katie Edwards            850-717-5098

Rep. Larry Lee                    850-717-5084

Rep. Ray Pilon                    850-717-5072

Rep. Jimmie Smith             850-717-5034

Rep. Cyndi Stevenson         850-717-5017

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan         850-717-5031

Rep. Clovis Watson             850-717-5020

Emails to copy and paste:,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Talking Points

Fracking imposes unnecessary and unacceptable risks on the residents of Florida.  The tremendous use of water that is forever lost due to contamination, the risk of contaminating our aquifers, and the continuing contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere posed by fracking and burning natural gas is unconscionable when energy efficiency and renewable energy offer a clean and safe alternative. 

HB 191:

  • Completely preempts anything to do with oil or gas to the state, including: exploration, development, production, processing, storage, or transportation.  The preemption would apply to existing ordinances as well as prohibiting the adoption of new ones.
  • Uses a definition for “high-pressure well stimulation” that exempts the fracking activities most likely to be used in Florida from any regulation because those techniques, acid fracturing and acid matrix stimulation, are performed at lower pressure and are thereby excluded from the definition in the bill.  These are the techniques most often used in limestone and dolomite geological areas like Florida
  • Exposes municipalities to all oil and gas exploration and production activities inside city limits, (not just fracking) regardless of local government’s wishes by eliminating a provision in current law that permits can only be issued if the governing body of the city passes a resolution in favor of the oil/gas activity,
  • Provides that permits will be issued as soon as rulemaking is complete regardless of what a study required by the bill may reveal,
  • Designates FracFocus as the official chemical disclosure registry while preventing citizens from knowing what is being injected into the ground beneath their feet by use of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

Backers of the bill tout it as being a moratorium (a delay before fracking permits are issued.)  Permits won’t be issued right away, but they will be issued as soon as the rulemaking process is complete. And all of the other bad policy in the bill will be effective immediately. The preemption, the vulnerability of cities that oil/gas operators may want to drill in, and of course, the definition of “high-pressure well stimulation” that excludes the most likely methods of fracking for Florida from new regulation will all take effect on Day One.  No new regulations or permitting will be put in place for acid fracturing or acid matrix stimulation and the potential for contamination will occur regardless of whether or not “high-pressure well stimulations” permits are being issued.  The broad preemption language will prevent localities from doing anything about it, and the Trade Secrets provision will prevent residents from finding out what toxic chemicals they may be exposed to.

The bill calls for a study, but only of “high-pressure well stimulation.”  And there is no provision for delay or a change in direction if the study turns up a threat to public health - fracking permits get issued when rulemaking is complete.

Water Use:


  • Oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are (1) known or possible human carcinogens, (2) regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health, or (3) listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. These 29 chemicals were components of 652 different products used hydraulic fracturing. Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Commerce and Energy, Minority Staff Report, 2011
  • Flowback from fracking wells can contain radioactive materials from deep under the earth.
  • 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

Trade Secrets:

  • HB 191 lets well operators claim the chemicals they use are “trade secrets” which means residents, first responders, and medical personnel cannot find out what they are dealing with.  All that is necessary to claim “trade secret” protection is to say the secret is valuable to the well operator and that the well operator is trying to keep it a secret.  688.002 (4) Florida Statutes

    Health Impacts:

The New York State Department of Health report states under ‘Health outcomes near HVHF (high volume hydraulic fracturing)Activity:

  • One peer-reviewed study and one university report have presented data indicating statistical associations between some birth outcomes (low birth weight and some congenital defects) and residential proximity of the mother to well pads during pregnancy (Hill, 2012; McKenzie, 2014). Proximity to higher-density HVHF well pad development was associated with increased incidence of congenital heart defects and neural-tube defects in one of the studies (McKenzie, 2014).

Fracking legislation filed for 2016 session:

Good Anti-fracking bills:

There are two bills to ban fracking by statute:

SB 0166 Oil and Natural Gas Production or Recovery  by Sen. Soto has been referred to Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Commerce and Tourism; Community Affairs; Fiscal Policy

HB 0019 Well Stimulation Treatments by Rep. Jenne has been referred to Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Energy and Utilities Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee

There are also two good Joint Resolutions to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban fracking in the state:

SJR 0358 Hydraulic Fracturing  by Sen. Ring has been referred to Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Judiciary; Rules.

A similar Joint Resolution has been filed by Rep. Javier Rodriguez (with a ‘z’) -

HJR 0453 Well Stimulation by Rep. Rodriguez (with a ‘z’) but has not yet been referred to  committees.

The legislature can place proposed amendments to the state constitution without getting any petitions signed.  The only requirement is that the Resolution proposing the amendment get a 3/5ths vote in each chamber.  (It would also need the approval of 60% of the voters to be adopted.)

Bad Pro-fracking bills:

HB 0191 Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources by Rep. Rodrigues (with an ‘s’) has been referred to to Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee; Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; State Affairs Committee.  (It is the bill up in Agriculture and Natural Resources on Tuesday, November 3.)

SB 0318 Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources by Sen. Richter has been referred to Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government; Appropriations.

This year the pro-fracking sponsors have not filed separate ‘trade secrets’ bills and are relying on the process already in statute in Chapter 688 to protect them from having to disclose what toxic chemicals they are injecting into the ground.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sierra Club Demands FWC Director Immediately End Bear Hunt

October 24, 2015

Mr. Nick Wiley
Executive Director
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
620 South Meridian St
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

Dear Mr. Wiley,

Sierra Club urges you to exercise immediately your legal authority to end the hunt in all bear management units where the Florida black bear is being hunted.

FWC's bear hunt information update posted on this evening reports that 207 bears were killed in today's hunt.  Note that Speak Up Wekiva reports that the updated total is 224 bears reported killed today.  It isn't difficult to imagine that the final number killed might be significantly higher than either figure due to mortality not reported.

The FWC update adds that you have stopped the hunt in the Eastern Panhandle and Central Bear Management Units where the kill exceeded FWC's goals -- including a horrifying 81 (double FWC's goal of 40) in the Eastern Panhandle Bear Management Unit.  But it also says you are allowing the hunt to continue in the North and South Bear Management Units.  

Mayhem followed by long-term disaster are the predictable results of not stopping the hunt for the entire state.  Tomorrow, hunters will seek to make their kills in the North and South Bear Management Units, and they will redouble their efforts realizing that it will likely be the last day of the hunt.  Far more bears will be "harvested" by the end of the weekend than FWC's goal of 320 for the year, gravely reversing the recovery of the Florida black bear.  

Your only responsible option is to immediately call off the hunt for the whole state, including the North and South Bear Management Units.


Frank Jackalone
Florida Staff Director

Debbie Matthews
Florida Chapter Chair

Sierra Club Florida
1990 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Groups file legal brief to help halt Florida Black Bear hunt

Florida Black Bear. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.
The Sierra Club and 11 organizations filed an emergency amicus brief Tuesday in support of Speak up Wekiva's appeal to stop the Florida Black Bear Hunt on Saturday, the first sanctioned hunt in 21 years.

"The hunt is a travesty,” said Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone. “The science is absent and the stakes are high.”

The brief submitted to the First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee says that although the hunt has a stated quota of 320 bears, it has no “mechanism to ensure that the quota is not exceeded.”

The brief was filed on behalf of Animal Hero Kids, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, CompassionWorks International, Environmental Action, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Lobby for Animals, South Florida Wildlands, Sierra Club and Stop The Florida Bear Hunt. The original suit was brought by Speak up Wekiva, Inc. and Charles W. O’Neal against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. On October 1, a Leon County judge ruled the hunt could continue. The amicus filings can be found here and here.

The iconic Florida Black Bear was protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as “threatened” for more than four decades until 2012. From a low of 300 bears, legal protections and conservation methods led to the population increasing to approximately 3,000, still nowhere near its historic population of 12,000. FWC cited bear-human interactions as a main reason for the hunt but admitted that better trash management and bear-proof trash cans were the best deterrent.

The Florida Black Bear hunt is set to start Saturday, Oct. 24.


TAKE ACTION NOW: Call Governor Rick Scott at 850-488-5603 and tell him to ask the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to Stop the Bear Hunt.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sierra Club climate leaders learn from Al Gore in Miami

by Sierra Club Florida Conservation Chair Tom Larson

Al Gore at the Climate training in Miami, Sept. 2015.
Photo by Jon Ullman
Climate Change is real; it’s happening. We can do something about it—AND MUST!

That's why 1,200 people—young and old—assembled in Miami for three days at the end of September to learn more about the problems of climate change and its solutions. We came from 87 countries across the world; half from across the USA; one quarter from Florida.

Along with special guests speaking in support of specific topics, Vice President Al Gore showed the audience the depth and breadth of the issues around our changing climate with all his heart—with lots of evidence and many promises of hope.

Sierra Club Florida's Tom Larson gives Green Tea Party leader 
Debbie Dooley a Solar=Energy Freedom bumper sticker
Among the participants were many Sierra Club members and supporters.  Students, retirees, environmentalists, government officials, business people—many of them mothers and fathers—were intent on understanding the matters at hand and learning how to best share their story and gain attention for our shared story.

Extraordinarily high “King Tides” now regularly are inundating parts of Miami, Jacksonville and other coastal communities worldwide at levels not known in human history.  Our seas are rising and becoming more acidic.  Weather extremes like people have not experienced before are occurring with greater regularity and more intensity such as 1,000-year floods in places like piedmont & low-country South Carolina. Drought is becoming widespread: wildfire season is virtually year-round now in California. Global warming is creating “global weirding,” a term coined by Hunter Lovins and promoted by Thomas Friedman, “. . . because the rise in average global temperature is going to lead to all sorts of crazy things.”

More than 1,200 people from 87 countries attended 
the Climate Reality Project's Miami training 
The Climate Reality Project team organized presentations and exercises to enable the participants to become members of the “Climate Reality Leadership Corps”—now 9,400 trained representatives in 126 countries.  We exchanged resources validated and prepared by experts and now have embarked on sharing with others in our home communities, our friends and workmates, the real story about climate change and what we can do about it.

I came away with 17 typewritten pages of notes I took and am still digesting, expanded my knowledge, bolstered confidence about my own understanding and gained access to a treasure of exhibits, presentation templates and a solid connection to the 9400 other Climate Reality leaders.  I’m still learning how to tell my story and will be thinking about which sets of resources will best support sharing with others in various walks of life.  I’m hoping to collaborate regularly with nearby fellow leaders across Florida to spread the word.

My own climate reality story

My climate reality story is one that goes back to the mid-1990s, when I first heard about U.S. Defense Department concerns about national security risks due to climate change.  As I learned more in Sierra Club circles, while employed in commerce, I volunteered on personal time to foster community dialog on global warming and potential perils without mitigation.  I ended up involved with the Florida Energy Commission’s working group on climate change, got further involved with electric power issues of sustainability in my hometown, across Florida and at the state capital, and participated locally in U.S. DOE Clean Cities programs fostering non-petroleum transportation fuel market developments.  I have been speaking on climate change with growing knowledge for many years.  Now with Al Gore’s and the Climate Reality Project’s help I’m really charged up.

We can do so much with positive effect—with intention, keeping an eye on the prize.  Without diminishing our prosperity, and improving economic security of people across the world, we can change our ways to stop polluting the atmosphere with unfettered carbon dioxide, the principal force of global warming.

Solar is here

Solar electric power generation combined with new grid management technologies (I call it the “electro-net”) can provide us clean energy in abundance, without breaking the bank.  Most of the opposition to effecting change comes from those with investments sunk in old, customary technologies and resources.  We need to make pathways for transition that turn from coal and other fossil-fuel combustion for energy to harnessing power from principally sunlight and wind. There are some places where other clean energy resources are available responsibly, such as geothermal hot water, biomass in sustainable quantities and ocean tide/wave/current energy harvesting.  Some needed technologies are still in development to scale, but many options are ready for prime time.  We learned at the Climate Reality conference a lot about the now-competitive costs of solar power generation systems.

Overcoming resistance

Our main problem is dealing with people’s uncertainty, lack of confidence in taking new directions and the raft of unfortunate mis-information coming from already invested interests in business as usual.  We all must learn that we can do this and then demand action. It will be better in the long run for profitable, sustainable business. It will support people with a future they and their grandchildren will appreciate.  Taking on climate change that our activities are creating will save the planet and its wondrous creatures from a substantially different climate and weather regime than we’ve known in human history.

The future is bright

Join me and my colleagues in creating the sustainable future we all want, not one that comes upon us because of neglectful, short-term, greedy thinking.  We can create more jobs, increase prosperity, save ecological systems.  Talk with your friends, workmates, and public officials about climate change.  We must demand attention and honest thinking be applied to taking action.

For more information on the Climate Reality Project, click here.
For more information about the Miami, Florida event, click here.

The River of Grass Greenway is anything but green

Sierra Club Calusa Chair John Scott
by John Scott, Chair, Sierra Club Calusa Group

The River Of Grass Greenway (R.O.G.G.) sounds eco-friendly but the proposed hard surface bike path is anything BUT green. Supporters of this project have waged an all-out campaign to “greenwash” the reality of it and mislead the public.

The feasibility study and master plan are what’s available to evaluate the proposed project on. After exhaustive evaluation, it’s clear this project has many problems on many levels. I fail to understand how anything that would destroy wetlands, disrupt watersheds, disturb view sheds, fragment critical wildlife habitat, encroach on indigenous lands, desecrate burial grounds, disturb historic battlefields, undermine Everglades restoration and result in commercial development of the Big Cypress National Preserve and Greater Everglades could even get this far.
Protesters march against the R.O.G.G. in April 2015.
Photo courtesy of JohnBob Carlos.
Supporters claim it’s still merely an idea and that we’re drawing conclusions or distorting facts if we oppose it. Well if not now, when? We must stop this wastefully expensive “idea” NOW before it goes any further. Over a million taxpayer dollars have been spent to produce a glossy, professionally bound 11x17 full color version of this “idea”, which offers little benefit to anyone but a small group of cyclists and whoever would build and operate it. It seems there’s a lot of money to be made destroying the Everglades.

Over 800 miles of paved and unpaved paths already exist in the Everglades, most notably Shark Valley and Loop Road. The public can already get unobtrusively up close and personal with the Everglades’ nature and has been able to do so for quite some time. The notion that access doesn’t already exist is blatantly false.

Betty Osceola and Bobbie Billie protest the R.O.G.G.
Tribal sovereignty and sacred lands, including burial grounds and historic battlefields, would be violated if this project is built. There has been a lack of consideration for tribal issues throughout the process. The Miccosukee tribe has released their public comments in strong opposition to this project (
It’s outrageous that taxpayers would be forced to pay $211 million to construct this unnecessary project and an astounding $3.620 million annually for operating and maintenance costs, three million of which is for shuttles and transit. How is that sustainable? Construction and operation of the ROGG will certainly produce large amounts of carbon emissions. The most sustainable solution would be NOT TO BUILD IT!

Moving clean, fresh water south into the Everglades in large quantities (which isn’t currently happening) helps stave off the effects of sea level rise and saltwater intrusion. Building a hard surface bike path (a road) near Tamiami Trail creates yet one more barrier, undermining current restoration efforts.

Protest March against the R.O.G.G. in April 2015
The 76 mile path would have a footprint of over 140 acres, at least 100 of which would be undisturbed and sensitive habitat that would be destroyed as it’s paved over. New bridges would have to be built as existing road bridges cannot be used, destroying more pristine habitat, both aquatic and land based. The Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades are World Heritage Sites and designated Outstanding Florida Waters. If you love the Everglades, you should oppose this project.
The petition created by Rails-To-Trails Conservancy has garnered over 2,500 signatures from supporters. The petition opposing the project ( has garnered over 4,500 signatures. There is also a sign-on letter for organizations and businesses ( that has over 60 signatories, many of which are businesses along the proposed route. Why would any business along the proposed route be in opposition of this project if there was such great economic benefit?

The Sierra Club supports bike paths but not this one. It’s a destructive attack on the Everglades eco-system, tribal residents and precious wildlife. We must RESTORE the Everglades not bring them further harm. Hundreds of thousands of annual visitors can already enjoy the Everglades safely with the least carbon emissions by using the existing paved and unpaved trails. We do NOT need to build the River Of Grass Greenway.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

State Legislators discover how cool electric cars are

FL Senate Transportation Chair Jeff Brandes Emerges as Champion of Electric Vehicle Adoption

Last month, more than a dozen electric vehicles filled the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee for Drive Electric Day Florida, sponsored by a coalition of the Sierra Club, state utilities, county governments and auto manufacturers.

Florida State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg)
"The future of vehicles in Florida absolutely includes electric vehicles,” said Senator Jeff Brandes, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee at a press conference on the Courtyard.

Drive Electric cars in the Capitol. Photo by Phil Compton.
Sierra Club is the leading environmental organization in Florida placing a priority on Electric Vehicles (EVs) as an important tool to fight smog and climate change.

Drive Electric Florida members, including Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone, testified at the Senate Transportation Committee Meeting and met with dozens of legislators and their staff. The event drew 300 and received media coverage from 9 FL TVstations, with stories placed in 7 websites. FL staff Frank Jackalone, Phil Compton and FL Healthy Air Campaign Lead Volunteer Tom Krumreich represented Sierra Club FL at Drive Electric Day at the Capitol.

An all-electric bus in front of the Capitol. Photo by Kevin Cate
Electric buses also had a major presence. Tallahassee’s StarMetro transit agency brought one of its five zero-emission all-electric Proterra buses, while BYD also displayed its 100% electric bus. Transit agencies around the state in places like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Petersburg and Gainesville are now seriously considering including these quiet, cost effective buses.

A Tesla test drive. Photo by Kevin Cate.
The event was a highlight of week-long Drive Electric events throughout Florida and the US.

Going forward this fall, the Drive Electric Florida coalition will lobby the state legislature on key priorities: improving EV charging infrastructure, eliminating barriers to home charging at multi-unit dwellings (apartment, condos, etc.) and making EV ownership affordable for more Floridians with sales tax relief on purchases.

-- Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club National Beyond Oil / Florida Healthy Air Campaign

Paint Ain't Enough! New Sierra Club Petition Asks FDOT to Protect Cyclists

Protected bike lanes, a.k.a. cycle tracks, in Bogota, Colombia. Why not here?
At its quarterly meeting last month, the Sierra Club Florida Chapter endorsed a petition created by our Florida Healthy Air Campaign that asks the Florida Dept. of Transportation (FDOT) to make a serious commitment to bicycle safety. Florida is the most dangerous state in America to ride a bicycle. 

The new petition, which may now be used by any Sierra Club group or member to build support, asks FDOT to adopt protected bike lanes on the urban roadways under its jurisdiction and to encourage surrounding cities and counties to do this as well.

Within the last year, two changes have occurred which make it easier for FDOT to consider this:
  1. FDOT has changed its guidelines to narrow the traffic lane width which allows more room for protected lanes.
  2. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has published guidelines for construction of protected bike lanes that encourage their adoption based on its studies of their safety and effectiveness.
This action is consistent with Sierra Club’s national support for the "Complete Streets" concept, streets designed for safe use by cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles, as part of its commitment to promote sustainable life styles and social justice

One component of this approach is to design streets in a way that encourages people to ride bicycles. Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to promote bicycling is to make it as safe as possible by providing protected bike lanes to ensure a safe and comfortable riding experience.
Making our city streets safer for all families

People for Bikes, a nationwide bicycling advocacy group, has been conducting a campaign, The Green Lane Project, designed to persuade municipalities throughout the US to create protected bike lanes, also known as cycle tracks, to encourage the use of bicycles in urban areas. There's mounting evidence they really work! Find out more here.

Another means of adding a physical barrier. Paint ain't enough!

Use of this petition by Sierra Club groups and members in Florida to help persuade FDOT to adopt this practice will also set the stage for Sierra Club and People For Bikes to work together to achieve our common goal: Seeing protected bike lanes in urban areas throughout Florida.

Completed petitions should be returned by mail to:
Sierra Club FL Healthy Air Campaign, 1990 Central Ave. St. Petersburg, FL 33712
Or scanned and emailed to:                    
For more information, call Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Rep, @ 727-824-8813, ext. 303.