Monday, October 31, 2016

Like solar? Vote NO on Amendment 1!

Explore. Enjoy. Protect.
If you support clean, renewable energy -- and more power to people -- join me in spreading the word that Amendment 1 must be defeated.

There are many ways to get involved. Sign up to volunteer -- it's easy!

Let us know how you can help!
Let us know how you can help!

Dear Friends in the Sunshine State:

Polluter-backed utility giants are trying to trick Floridians into backing Amendment 1 -- their plan to choke off residential solar power under the guise of "helping" solar.1

That's why I'm coming to Florida this week to support Floridians for Solar Choice's efforts to set the record straight and stop Amendment 1.

With Election Day next week, time is running out to stop Amendment 1 from ruining solar energy in Florida. Will you join me in volunteering to help inform voters?

Florida has huge potential to be a superpower for clean, renewable energy. Solar power in particular has so much promise that it's right in the state nickname!

But big utility companies want to limit customer-owned solar energy in the Sunshine State, because it challenges their lucrative monopoly on power. That's why big corporations like Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light have poured tens of millions of dollars into trying to deceive Floridians into supporting Amendment 1 under the falsehood that it's "pro-solar" (it's definitely not).2

If you support clean, renewable energy -- and more power to people -- join me in spreading the word that Amendment 1 must be defeated. There are many ways to get involved. Sign up to volunteer -- it's easy!

Both solar energy and fighting climate change are critical to Florida's future. With so much focus on the other issues at stake in this watershed election, it's so important that voters learn the truth about Amendment 1 before it's too late.

Let's protect solar in Florida,

Michael Brune
Executive Director, Sierra Club

P.S. This Thursday, we're joining with Floridians for Solar Choice at a dozen press events to raise awareness about the threat posed by Amendment 1. Can you join us at one? Check the box on this form and we'll let you know where the nearest event is to you.
[1] John Schwartz, The New York Times, Measure in Florida That Claims to Back Solar Power May Discourage It, October 27, 2016.
[2] Want to learn more about Amendment 1? Click here!

Paid political advertisement by Sierra Club, 1990 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33712​.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sierra Club & Allies File Legal Motion to Block Pipelines in AL, GA & FL

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Contact: Jonathon Berman,
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson,

Environmental Groups Seek to Block Gas Pipeline Threatening Environmental Justice Communities in Three States
More than 80% of the Pipeline Will Affect Environmental Justice Communities
Washington, DC  -- Today, the Sierra Club, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and Flint Riverkeeper filed a motion for a stay of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) certificates for the 685-mile Southeast Market Pipelines Project through Alabama, Georgia ,and Florida, which includes the Sabal Trail gas pipeline, and sought to halt construction of the pipeline until the case has been decided.
“On its face, this pipeline should be rejected for the threat it poses not only to our climate, but to the public health of communities it would affect,” said Lena Moffitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “Rather than doubling down on outdated, dirty fuels, we should complete our transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”
FERC has acknowledged that 83.7-percent of the pipeline project would affect environmental justice communities. The project includes five compressor stations that would release a significant amount of air pollution into communities. One of those compressor stations would be constructed in Albany, GA in the middle of a predominantly African American neighborhood comprised of two large subdivisions, a mobile home park, schools, recreational facilities, and a 5,000 member Baptist church. FERC approved this project despite strenuous local protests and the objections of Georgia’s members of the Congressional Black Caucus over the discriminatory siting of the project.
“We filed this as an emergency motion hoping the judges will step in and freeze the project until they have a chance to consider it fully,” said Elly Benson, Sierra Club attorney. “Otherwise it is likely that the court won’t get to decide its legality until it is too late.”
The environmental groups asked FERC to consider the effects on these communities and re-route the pipeline, to no avail. FERC contended there was no disparate impact, leaving the groups to seek relief from the federal court of appeals in Washington, DC. The groups are asking the court that all construction be halted until FERC fully considers these impacts and alternatives to the pipeline, and that if the court will not stop the entire pipeline it at least halt construction in the environmental justice neighborhoods in Dougherty County, Georgia.   
Gordon Rogers of Flint Riverkeeper said “the actions of FERC have jeopardized property rights throughout southwest Georgia for small and large landowners alike. The federal government is handing over the awesome power of eminent domain to private investors endangering our rivers, wetlands, underground water supplies, and the health of our communities with no demonstrated public benefit for Georgians.”
In addition to the disparate impact on environmental justice communities, the pipeline has significant environmental impacts throughout its route, including the imminent threat of horizontal direction drilling (HDD) along major rivers in Florida, such as the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers. Additionally, the pipeline would cut through the Green Swamp, known as the “liquid heart of Florida,” which is a 560,000-acre area that is the headwaters to four major rivers in Florida.
Citizen’s concerns are at an all time high for all waterbodies that face this type of construction according to longtime water, river, and springs protector, Sierra Club organizer Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson. “Pipeline construction threatens to release hazardous materials and drilling mud into the aquifer, polluting our drinking water and threatening sacred Native American sites,” said Malwitz-Jipson. “Potential gas leaks and explosions represent a significant threat to Florida’s historical sites and ecotourism.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit
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Friday, October 21, 2016

USF Business Students Assist Sierra Club in Sustainability Study

Second row, center: Dr. Steven Diasio (white shirt) and Emily Gorman (denim jacket) during one of the two Strategic Management classes. Photo credit: Emily Gorman
This story was published October 20, 2016  in the University of South Florida - St. Pete News
Eighty students in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business at USF St. Petersburg are collaborating with the Suncoast Sierra Club and its 100% St. Pete campaign, a local extension of the national Ready for 100 campaign. The initiative aims to power the City of St. Petersburg with 100 percent renewable energy by raising public awareness of renewable energy and the energy industry, and by developing pilot programs with partner organizations.
Undergraduate students enrolled in two sections of the Strategic Management capstone course were divided into 14 teams. Under the guidance of Dr. Steve Diasio, professor of Innovation and Management, the students work together and use the strategic thinking skills and the tools learned in the class to develop tactics to get citizens interested and involved in climate action planning and renewable energy.  Students use the City of St. Petersburg as a case study, learning about everything from biofuels and solar energy systems to climate change mitigation planning, resiliency and vulnerability assessment.
“This is an exciting project that not only helps the community but also enables students develop strategic and innovative thinking skills that will prepare them for jobs in the industry,” said Diasio, who incorporates real-world client projects into many of his courses. Previous projects have included work with Valpak and The Moorings.
To get his students involved in the campaign initiative, Diasio contacted graduate student Emily Gorman, an MBA student who works as a sustainability consultant for INSPYROD. The firm was hired by the Suncoast Sierra Club to run the 100% St. Pete Campaign. Gorman works as a campaign co-manager with James Scott, another Inspyrod consultant and USFSP Florida Studies graduate student.
“The students were tasked with creating ways to get citizens in the community interested and to help them understand how city planning will impact them, their children, and their grandchildren” said Gorman, 25, who has been highly involved in sustainability efforts at USFSP as a student. “If they’re successful, the Sierra Club will be able to use those students’ strategies to help bring people in to City Hall and empower them to make their voices heard.”
Representatives from the Suncoast Sierra Club have attended every class session, providing real time feedback as the students meet project milestones. Gorman said this type of collaboration is largely unprecedented for the Suncoast Sierra Club, which has had a lot of USFSP interns but never previously collaborated with a professor to create this type of classroom experience.
“There is a lot of information to process because the project touches many areas that most students have never been exposed to,” said Gorman. “So by having the Sierra Club representatives there at the meetings, they are able to work closely with the students to help shape the project and provide immediate feedback.”
The Suncoast Sierra Club will host the 100% Celebration on Friday, Dec. 9 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Station House in St. Petersburg. The event will feature Mayor Kriseman, members of City Council and will recognize the achievements of the city government officials, USFSP and other partners for their sustainability efforts.
USFSP Sustainability Planner Brian Pullen has been working across departments and with students to author a Climate Action Plan (CAP). This plan will serve as a guide for how the university will reach its goal of carbon neutrality. Later this fall, USFSP will join with the Sierra Club and the City for an event on campus.
Several other sustainability-related events will take place at USFSP in coming weeks.
On Oct. 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Suncoast Sierra Club and their partners will participate in the 100% St. Pete Solar Tour, a tour of St. Petersburg businesses and homes that will include USFSP, LumaStream, and the home of City Council Member Karl Nurse. It helps to expose the campus to larger numbers of people and highlight our unique net-zero parking garage.
The U.S. Green Building Council will host the seventh annual  LEEDership Awards at USFSP on Nov. 9 at the University Student Center, a LEED Gold Certified building. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will serve as the keynote speaker.