Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sierra Club and allies celebrate clean water victory as fracking bill dies in Senate committee

For Immediate Release: 
Contact Jon Ullman, jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club and allies celebrate clean water victory as fracking bill dies in Senate committee

(Tallahassee, FL) - Environmental and public health advocates declared victory after a Senate Appropriations committee failed to advance controversial industry-backed fracking legislation on a 9-10 vote.

“Today’s vote was a victory for clean water,” said Sierra Club Florida Staff Director Frank Jackalone. “Thousands of Floridians told their Senators that fracking has no place in this beautiful state.”

The Sierra Club was joined by groups such as ReThink Energy Florida, Environment Florida, League of Women Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, AFL-CIO, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and dozens of groups and individuals who attended rallies and made thousands of phone calls from across the state.

“There’s a small chance this could come back, but it’s all but dead,” said Sierra Club Florida lobbyist Dave Cullen. “I don’t think the legislators have the stomach for this bill. Voters will remember fracking at the polls.”

Although several dozens of residents filled out speaker cards against the action only a small portion were allotted about a minute to speak and were frequently cut off.

The bill would have preempted local communities from banning fracking and kept chemicals hidden as trade secrets. Already more than 70 municipalities have banned the practice as a threat to drinking water.

“Florida is the sunshine state. We should be focusing on solar, not dirty fossil fuels. Our ecologically-sensitive, water-dependent economy cannot risk the pollution that fracking presents,” said Sierra Club Florida Conservation Chair Tom Larson.

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Read more:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

URGENT! -- CALLS NEEDED TO STOP FRACKING BILL -- SB 318

Florida Chapter

Take Action
The fracking bill - SB 318 - is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Appropriation Committee this Thursday, February 25. 

We expect a close vote and need your help to stop the bill in this Committee.  

If your State Senator is one of the 19 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on the list below, please call him/her now.  Say that you live in the Senator's district, and that you vote. 
Ask him/her to vote NO on fracking bill SB 318.  

Members of Florida Senate Appropriations Committee:


Sen. Thad Altman
850-487-5016
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto
850-487-5030
Sen. Anitere Flores
850-487-5037
Sen. Don Gaetz
850-487-5001
Sen. Bill Galvano
850-487-5026
Sen. Rene Garcia
850-487-5038
Sen. Denise Grimsley
850-487-5021
Sen. Alan Hays
850-487-5011
Sen. Dorothy Hukill
850-487-5008
Sen. Arthenia Joyner
850-487-5019
Sen. Jack Latvala
850-487-5020
Sen. Tom Lee
850-487-5024
Sen. Gwen Margolis
850-487-5035
Sen. Bill Montford
850-487-5003
Sen. Joe Negron
850-487-5032
Sen. Garrett Richter
850-487-5023
Sen. Jeremy Ring
850-487-5029
Sen. David Simmons
850-487-5010
Sen. Christopher Smith
850-487-5031



The bill, backed by the oil and gas industry, not only would enable the dangerous drilling practice in places like the Everglades, but would force local communities to accept it. HB191 (companion to SB 318) passed the full House of Representatives on January 27 by a vote 73-45.  We need to defeat the bill in the Senate to stop it.
   
Thank you for all you do to protect Florida's environment.

Dave Cullen, 
Lobbyist

Sierra Club Florida



Talking Points:

Definition of Fracking
The narrow definition of fracking in SB 318 excludes the acid-matrix stimulation technique most likely to be used in Florida.  That means none of the permitting, or the study, or the rules will affect acidizations in the least - even though the same toxic cocktail will be injected into the ground.

Preemption
The bill preempts counties and cities from regulating or banning fracking.  It deprives citizens of their ability to protect themselves from contaminated water supply and its health impacts.

Trade Secrets
The trade secrets provision means families won't even be able to find out what chemicals are being used.

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PS: Be sure to take action and share this on Facebook and Twitter!


To learn more about the work of the Sierra Club Florida, visit our website and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Tell the US Fish & Wildlife Service: DON'T DOWNLIST THE MANATEE!

Source: Save the Manatee Club   

Manatees need your help in Florida

US FWS Public Hearing in Orlando this Week — Saturday, February 20, 2016 at the Buena Vista Palace Convention Center, 1900 Buena Vista Drive, The Great Hall, Orlando, Florida, 32830. There will be an informational open house from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a formal Public Hearing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.


Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to reclassify (aka “downlist”) the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Sierra Club Florida joins Save the Manatee Club in advising it is NOT appropriate to reclassify manatees at this time. The FWS has not made clear why it ought to downlist the entire species, since the agency's own 12-month finding reported "population trends are declining or unknown in 84 percent of the countries where manatees are found." The FWS should not move forward with downlisting Florida manatees without a proven, viable plan for further reducing mortality and preserving vital warm water habitat and establishing recovery benchmarks in an updated Recovery Plan.

As reported by the Save the Manatee Club (SMC), “The FWS decision for Florida is largely based on a computer model that does not include two recent, massive die-offs of hundreds of manatees. The manatee population suffered catastrophic losses from prolonged cold snaps and toxic red tide blooms from 2010 through 2013. The computer model also does not deal with loss of habitat due to waterfront development. In addition, there is no long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm water habitat on which more than 60% of the Florida manatee population depends.”

Weblink: read more about why Save the Manatee Club is opposed to reclassification at this time.

What You Can Do:

1   There is a 90-day public comment period that ends April 7th, 2016. There are three ways to comment to FWS on this proposal, and you can click the following SMC link to get sample comments:
2   Electronically: Click the following SMC link to go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov and enter your comments. 
3   U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803
4   Attend the public hearing on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at the Buena Vista Palace Convention Center, 1900 Buena Vista Drive, The Great Hall, Orlando, Florida, 32830. There will be an informational open house from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a formal Public Hearing from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
5   Click the following link to get more information from the FWS, including FAQs and details on the types of information to include in public comments.
6   Please donate (not tax-deductible) to help Sierra Club Florida fight to keep manatee protections strong.

Your help on this issue is vital to manatee protection!  Thank you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hundreds Gather Across Florida for 'Save Our Parks' Rallies


Protesters rally at Hillsborough River State Park.
On Saturday, February 13, hundreds of Sierra Club supporters and concerned citizens gathered at 11 State Parks across Florida to enjoy the award-winning state parks and protest wide-sweeping changes to the park system proposed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“Florida’s wonderful state parks are under attack by the Scott Administration and lawmakers who want to sell them off to the highest bidder or give them away to private landowners,” said Rocky Milburn, Sierra Florida Executive Committee member. “Today Floridians from Tallahassee to Miami are standing up to defend our public lands from this unprecedented threat.”

Have a Heart, Save Our Parks!
Sierra Club supporters gathered at 11 State Parks across Florida to marvel at the parks’ pristine beauty and enjoy the natural habitat. Events were held at Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, Fort George Island State Park in Jacksonville, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park in Fort Pierce, Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale, Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka, Wakulla Springs State Park in Wakulla, Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, Oleta River State Park in North Miami, Festival of Trees at the Cultural Plaza, Lake Worth, and Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park in Sanderson.

Broward County speaks!
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing legislation this session that would implement widespread changes to Florida law dealing with state parks.  HB 1075/SB 1290 as drafted would change the standards for managing public lands, and could result in opening state parks to hunting, timbering or grazing or being repurposed for recreation such as golf courses, RV parks or worse. The bill could also allow a private landowner who owns land adjacent to state lands or state parks to take ownership of the public land, thereby removing public access to state lands. These activities would disrupt and destroy the parks’ value as tourist destinations, public recreation sites and pristine examples of preserved natural Florida. Further, DEP has changed the land management plan review process to limit public input.

“We must do everything we can to enjoy our pristine parks before it’s too late,” said Milburn. “Or the next time we show up to our state parks we may see hunting signs, trees harvested, or worse, no trespassing signs.”

Miami supporters gather outside Oleta River State Park.

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Daytona News-Journal at Blue Springs
News-Leader at Fort Clinch State Park
Bay News 9 at Hillsborough River State Park
Orlando Sentinel at Wekiva Springs State Park

State Parks in Peril

FACT SHEET

Why did the protests take place ?

Florida’s state parks are facing threats on all fronts, from expanding their uses to include hunting, timbering and cattle grazing to allowing private individuals the ability to manage parks.

What are the specific threats?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is proposing legislation this session that would implement widespread changes to Florida law dealing with state parks.  HB 1075/SB 1290 as drafted would change the standards for managing public lands, and could result in opening state parks to hunting, timbering or grazing or being repurposed for recreation such as golf courses, RV parks or worse. The bill could also allow a private landowner who owns land adjacent to state lands or state parks to take ownership of the public land, thereby removing public access to state lands. These activities would disrupt and destroy the parks’ value as tourist destinations, public recreation sites and pristine examples of preserved natural Florida. Further, DEP has changed the land management plan review process to limit public input.

Why would this affect all parks and not just certain ones?

From Pennekamp State Park in the Keys to Wakulla Springs State Park in the Panhandle, all parks would be subject to being sold to the highest bidder for profit, or handed over to private land owners to be managed. Everything in the bill, HB 1075/SB 1290, would apply to any park in the state.

What can be done to protect the parks? 

Members of the public should call their Florida State Representative and Senator to urge them to oppose language in the State Lands bills granting DEP the authority to change the purpose of a state park as part of its land management planning process.

The House bill, HB 1075, will be heard in the State Affairs Committee Thursday, 2/18 at 9 am.  Rep. Caldwell is offering an amended version of the bill that addresses a number of issues we have raised, but the potential impact on parks and the land swap language is still in the bill.

The next committee stop for the Senate bill, SB 1290, is the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee where it could be heard as soon as next Wednesday, February 24 at 1:30 p.m. No amendments have yet been filed to SB 1290.