Thursday, December 22, 2016

FPL closes Cedar Bay coal plant in Jacksonville - Is it a clean energy victory?

Sierra Club applauds FPL’s formal closure of Cedar Bay coal plant
Move overshadowed by bad gas, nuclear plans

JACKSONVILLE, FLA—Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has announced plans to formally retire the Cedar Bay Generating Plant, a 250-megawatt coal-fired facility located in Jacksonville, on Dec. 31.

FPL bought the plant in 2015 and announced it would phase it out of service within this time frame.
Cedar Bay is among 246 coal plants retired or planned for retirement since the Beyond Coal campaign launched in 2010.

In response to FPL’s announcement, Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida chapter director, issued the following statement:

“With this closure, FPL is doing the right thing by removing a major threat to air and water quality in Duval County. We look forward to the day when every coal plant is retired and replaced with clean, renewable energy sources.
“And while we applaud Cedar Bay’s formal closure, this positive move is overshadowed by FPL’s major expansion of climate disrupting gas burning power plants in Florida and its investment in the massive Sabal Trail pipeline that threatens Florida's springs, rivers, and drinking water.
“FPL has a long way to go before it can be considered a good corporate citizen: its Turkey Point power plant is a dangerous fiasco, which has been leaking dangerous wastewater into Biscayne Bay; FPL has put a huge burden on its customers by making them pay for more than one billion dollars’ worth of new, unnecessary and expanded power plants that burn fracked gas from as far away as Pennsylvania and Texas; and its attempt to shut down rooftop solar in Florida by sponsoring the Amendment One ballot measure, which was rejected by voters last month.
“It’s shameful that in the Sunshine State, FPL’s solar power investments comprise less than 1 percent of the utility’s total generation. We will continue to push FPL to meet Florida’s full potential by investing in a clean energy supply that includes more solar, energy storage, and energy efficiency—which are cheaper and safer for our natural resources and for our communities.”

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Community Workshop Helps Clear the Smoke on Sugarcane Burning


 Stop Sugar Field Burning team presenters, left,
host Steve Messam, right.

More than 30 residents of Lake Okeechobee’s Glades Communities gathered for the "Stop The Burn!Go Green Harvest! Community Workshop," on December 3, in Belle Glade. Leaders of the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign team, based in South Bay and Belle Glade, gave a series of inspiring presentations about their campaign to end the harmful, outdated practice of pre-harvest sugarcane burning and switch to the burn-free, modern alternative of "green harvesting."
     
First, workshop host and local team member Steve Messam pointed out that the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign is not about bashing the sugar industry, but rather influencing it to become a better neighbor to the Glades communities. He emphasized that a good neighbor does not dump its trash in the form of smoke and ash on their neighbors’ property and expect them to deal with the cleanup and health consequences.

Campaign team leader Shanique Scott next presented the negative health effects associated with exposure to sugar cane burning emissions. Studies from other parts of the world have concluded that sugar cane burning contributes to respiratory disease and even cancer. When Ms. Scott asked how many residents and their families personally suffered from respiratory issues such as asthma, the majority of the attendees raised their hands. Ms. Scott also spoke from personal experience about how doctors often recommend to Glades community residents that they move away because the smoke during sugarcane burning season aggravates their respiratory conditions.

Kina Phillips presenting at the Workshop

 Kina Phillips, another local campaign team leader gave a presentation on the environmental injustice of sugar burning. She described the discriminatory nature the of industry's voluntary burn protocols: The protocols prevent sugarcane burning on days when winds blow toward the more affluent residents of eastern Palm Beach County, but provide no such protections when the winds blow toward the poorer, predominantly African American Glades communities in Western Palm Beach County. She highlighted how Glades residents suffer the most from the effects of sugarcane burning while receiving the least amount of protection.

Patrick Ferguson, Sierra Club's Organizing Representative for the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign described green harvesting is, how it’s done, and it’s many benefits. His presentation highlighted how in green harvesting sugarcane leaves and tops which are called "trash" by the sugar industry are utilized for profit. In Florida the sugar industry burns the trash to make harvesting quicker and cheaper, but leading global sugar producers Australia and Brazil green harvest nearly all their trash to produce mulch, electricity, ethanol, biochar, bio-plastics, tree-free paper products, and more. In addition to providing more raw materials for commercial uses, his presentation covered how green harvesting is for better public health, the environment, and the long term interests of the sugar industry as well.

Campaign team member Brittany Ingram presented on how residents can join the campaign and help affect positive change in their communities. Ms. Ingram described how signing the local petition and joining petition-canvassing teams is a great place to start. She also informed residents on how to make a formal complaint against sugarcane burning and encouraged them to do so the next time they are affected by smoke or ash so their voices can be heard.

Shanique Scott addressing the audience at the end of the Workshop
The workshop ended with a Q & A session where attendees got to share how sugarcane burning has affected them. When attendees were asked if they would be interested in attending the next meeting the entire room raised their hands filling the air with enthusiasm and hope.The workshop let both the local residents and sugar industry know that the Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign is a serious grassroots movement that is on the rise in the Glades.This workshop was the first of many future campaign endeavors in the Glades, which will work to clear the smoke cast by sugarcane burning so a brighter future for Glades will emerge!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oppose Trump's Nomination of Rick Perry for Department of Energy



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Sierra Club:   Rick Perry Tapped to Run Agency He’d Eliminate If Only He Could Name It





WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly appoint Rick Perry as the head of the U.S. Department of Energy.


In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

“Rick Perry is being tapped to run an agency he would eliminate if he could only remember its name. Trump’s latest appointment is an insult to our functioning democracy. Putting Perry in charge of the Department of Energy is the perfect way to ensure the agency fails at everything it is charged to do, so Trump might as well just lock the doors for four years.
This isn’t leadership by Trump, it’s a reckless, dangerous decision that proves he has little interest in a functioning government and every interest in propping up his fossil fuel billionaire buddies.

“Perry’s clear financial interests in major energy projects like the Dakota Access pipeline make it obvious that there’s no way he could manage the agency’s activities impartially. His ideological obsession with promoting dirty fossil fuels and ignoring the climate crisis means he is just as unfit for this position as the other climate deniers Trump is promoting for key posts.

“Americans didn’t vote for more fossil fuels, more drilling and fracking, and more pollution, but that’s what we’re getting with Perry and Trump. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for communities across the nation and oppose this nomination.”

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sierra Club lauds USF St. Petersburg, City of St. Petersburg Renewable Energy plans

USFSP, City Launch New Energy Initiatives
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
December 9, 2016
Contact: Emily Gorman, emily@inspyrod.com, (239) 821-3517

USF St. Petersburg, City of St. Petersburg Launch New Renewable Energy Initiatives

USFSP Unveils Climate Action Plan, Investments in solar energy
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -  St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman today joined USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Dr. Sophia Wisniewska to announce the launch of several new energy initiatives that will expand renewable energy and elevate the Sunshine City’s reputation as a leader in sustainability.

On November 21, the St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously to dedicate $800K of its BP settlement funds toward modeling vulnerabilities to sea-level rise, energy analyses and efficiency retrofits for city facilities and, perhaps most importantly, creating an Integrated Sustainability Action Plan (ISAP) that will in part chart a roadmap to 100% renewable energy for the entire community.  St. Petersburg is the 20th city in the United States and the first in Florida to make a commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy.

“This is the most robust, comprehensive climate planning initiative St. Petersburg has ever undertaken,” said Mayor Kriseman. “Working towards 100% clean energy and zero waste is just one way we continue to build our city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play.”

USF St. Petersburg Chancellor Wisniewska also unveiled the University's inaugural Climate Action Plan.  Developed in collaboration with the Center for Climate Strategies over the last three years, the Climate Action Plan is a set of strategies to reduce emissions by 50% before 2035 and to achieve full carbon-neutrality by 2050.

“A respect for our environment is among the core values stated in USFSP’s Vision 20/20 Strategic Plan,” said Chancellor Wisniewska. “We take seriously our commitment to become carbon neutral.”

USFSP also announced a $125K investment in a new solar carport to be built directly South of the new College of Business building on 4th Street. The project is designed to provide power to the surrounding buildings and will contribute to the University’s goal of installing 500kW of renewable energy production by 2020.

This announcement comes on the heels of Governor Scott’s emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents, like the recent sewage spills in Pinellas County.  St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay have been identified as among the most vulnerable places to rising sea levels as a result of climate change. When combined with exposure to tropical weather events, economic interruptions like floods, sewage spills and power outages are projected to increase in frequency and severity.

The ISAP is a comprehensive strategy to achieve the City’s sustainability and resilience goals, including avoiding floods and sewage spills, hardening against wind damage and power outages, reducing energy costs and waterfront property insurance rates, and transitioning to a 100% clean energy system. In addition, the ISAP will aim to promote job creation, stimulate private investment, and generally enhance the City’s economic development.  In responding to environmental vulnerabilities, the City and University are creating economic opportunities as well.

“There is no cavalry left. We are the cavalry,” said St. Petersburg City Council Vice-Chair Darden Rice in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It’s left up to cities to be the innovators, to be the agents of change, and to do it in a practical way.”

“Today’s joint announcement is an impressive first by St. Petersburg’s most prominent public institutions to respond to the greatest threats to our community, while creating new opportunities for all people in our region. Suncoast Sierra Club is proud to collaborate with the City and University to support these initiatives and believes that community collaboration in the climate action and 100% clean energy planning process is an opportunity to improve equity and unity in the City,” said Emily Gorman, Co-Manager for the Suncoast Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% St. Pete campaign.

PHOTOS: Download images from our public folder here.

RECENT COVERAGE:
Vice - This Is the First City in Florida to Commit to 100 Percent Renewable Energy
ABOUT SUNCOAST SIERRA CLUB:
St. Petersburg is one of the first cities in the nation to join Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 national campaign, aimed at leveraging the power of cities to catalyze a national transition toward renewable energy.  Suncoast Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental group comprised of 3,000+ member and 15,000+ supporters.  Ready for 100% St. Pete develops residential and commercial pilot programs with partner organizations and raises public awareness of clean energy and climate planning. Visit SuncoastSierra.org or check out our Quick Facts

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Protesters demand that Governor stop polluting coasts

                        PRESS RELEASE




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                           
December 8, 2016

Protesters demand that Governor stop polluting coasts

They called upon him to support Negron’s Everglades water storage plan and end bid to retake federal wildlife refuge

Protesters outside SFMWD Headquarters
West Palm Beach, FL -- More than 40 protesters chanted and waved signs outside Governor Rick Scott’s South Florida water managers last meeting of 2016, a year in which Florida’s toxic green algae catastrophe made headlines around the world.

The protesters called on Scott to support Florida Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to purchase 60,000 acres of sugar fields to store and treat billions of gallons of polluted water.  The nutrient-rich water, which wiped out marine life on Florida’s east and west coasts last summer, would be treated and sent south to the parched Everglades.

Protesters also blasted Scott’s intention to eliminate the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge, which could allow polluted water to be dumped there. If carried out, it would be the first time in U.S. history that a coveted National Wildlife Refuge has been removed since Theodore Roosevelt established the first at Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903.

“We all know that for any sweet deal, we’re the ones who pay,” said Mark Walters, Sierra Club Florida Chair. “We’re paying for it in the form of green slime catastrophes and stalled Everglades restoration that gets more expensive every day.”

A parrot puppet sits upon a sign.
The event, organized by Sierra Club, Bullsugar.org, Indian Riverkeeper, and Caloosahatchee Riverwatch, stressed that clean water is a human right.

“Water is life, and Scott is selling our water protections and quality to billionaire polluters to increase their profits,” said Marty Baum of Indian Riverkeeper.

Governor Scott’s water managers “simply do the bidding of sugar growers rather than advocate for the millions of South Florida taxpayers who are adversely affected by health-threatening algal blooms and looming drinking water shortages,” said Captain Mike Connor of Bullsugar.org.

Some protesters’ signs read: Governor Scott, Stop Blocking Everglades Restoration, No Dirty Water to Lox Refuge, Buy the Land, Send Water South and We have the right to Clean Water.

More photos: here.

Press: WPBF ABC 25 News coverage of the protest.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sierra Club Florida's 2017 Session Legislative Platform


Sierra Club Florida's legislative platform for 2017 was approved by the Executive Committee approved at their December 4, 2016 meeting.  

The platform lists positions and goals the Club will work to achieve through the coming year and provides a resource for volunteer members and supporters to use when meeting with their elected representatives.


2017 Legislative Platform  

 CLEAN ENERGY
Prioritize transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable, clean, and efficient energy to mitigate the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
Promote supply-side and demand-side efficiencies and introduce competition. Facilitate distributed generation.
Eliminate the emission of CO2 and methane as much as possible and require the social cost of carbon to be included in energy policy decisions.
Decouple power company profits from sales; incentivize service, reduced emissions and better water use; and define future investment in fossil fuel infrastructure as imprudent.
Oppose hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, and acid matrix stimulation for natural gas and oil in Florida and oppose new extraction of fossil fuels in the state.
MASS TRANSIT AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Promote mass transit, associated infrastructure, and alternatives to automobile use such as walkable communities and safe lane barriers for bicycles.
Co-locate mass transit in existing transportation corridors to serve transit oriented development and foster urban density.
Expand tax incentives and rebates for electric vehicles, improve local government parking policies, and ensure EV owners can responsibly install and use charging equipment, HOA and condo rules notwithstanding.
WASTE MINIMIZATION / RECYCLING
Real recycling saves energy and conserves natural resources. Foster robust recycling and recovered material markets, ban landfilling of biodegradables and use them for soil composting or anaerobic digestion for natural gas.  Require manufacturer take back programs for non-recyclable items.
Regulate littering, including disposal of cigarette waste on Florida’s beaches and allow localities to impose bottle deposits and bans or fees on single use plastic bags and polystyrene containers.
Stop counting the incineration of municipal solid waste as renewable energy.
GROWTH MANAGEMENT
Identify “significant state resources” and establish policies to protect them.  When practicable, use Florida Forever funds to acquire them in fee simple or perpetual conservation easements.
Promote development that is environmentally and fiscally sustainable by encouraging urban infill and redevelopment to take advantage of existing infrastructure, services, and facilities.
Discourage development that ties residents to an automobile-dependent lifestyle and expensive upgrades for energy efficiency, wastewater and stormwater management, and inconvenient and distant shopping and employment locations.
Monitor all Consumptive Use Permit water use, promote water conservation, adhere to “local sources first”, and reserve sufficient water for natural systems and ecosystems.  Establish Minimum Flows and Minimum Levels for all surface watercourses and for the groundwater supplying springs, rivers, lakes, and streams as required by statute.
Oppose state preemption of local growth and land use rules or ordinances more restrictive than state provisions.
WILDLIFE CORRIDORS AND HABITAT PROTECTION
Acquire (in fee simple or by perpetual conservation easement), restore, conserve, and buffer wildlife habitat and corridors (to protect habitat for bears, panthers, manatees, and other species at risk).
Coordinate Florida Forever and Florida Trail acquisitions to augment wildlife habitat in conjunction with the conservation of natural resources and preservation of lands providing aquifer recharge.
Minimize negative impacts on habitat: sprawl, new or expanded transportation corridors and interchanges, off road vehicles, and utility generation and transmission facilities.
WETLANDS AND EVERGLADES PROTECTION
Protect wetlands with strict permitting standards and enforcement.
Fully fund Everglades restoration, including acquisition of additional land in the Everglades Agricultural Area and an additional 5.5 miles of bridging for Tamiami Trail.
Increase the freshwater table height in southeast coastal Everglades; stop diverting freshwater to Turkey Point cooling canals, and deliver more freshwater to Florida Bay.
Oppose near-shore or offshore drilling for oil/gas or any expansion of oil/gas activities in the Everglades, Big Cypress, or elsewhere in the greater Everglades watershed.
WATER QUALITY PROTECTION
Control point and non-point source nutrient pollution from fertilizers, manure, stormwater, wastewater treatment facilities, and onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (septic tanks) at the source.  Set clear numerical standards and enforce them.
Mandate best management practices (BMPs), evaluate them for efficacy, upgrade them when necessary, and enforce them.
Oppose preemption of local control of fertilizer management and Support a ban on phosphorous in lawn fertilizer.
DEMOCRACY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Spend Water and Land amendment funds (1/3 of documentary stamp revenues) to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.
Oppose voter suppression and guarantee unfettered citizen access to voter registration and the polls.
Ensure reasonable public notice, access, and ability to participate in agency and district hearings, meetings, and proceedings.
Guarantee a level procedural and legal playing field.
Adequately fund agencies’ environmental missions and protect staff from undue political influence. Oppose environmental trust fund sweeps and the inappropriate surplussing of conservation lands.


Sierra Club Florida, a chapter of the national Sierra Club, is made up of volunteer leaders and civic activists representing over 31,000 members from all over the state. Our mission is to enjoy, explore and protect Florida’s natural places, to understand and teach others about the fragile environment in which we live, and to practice and promote the responsible use of our ecosystems and resources at the local, state, and national level. The Chapter’s strength comes from the efforts of local, grass roots volunteers in the 15 Sierra Club Groups serving communities across the state. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org/florida.

Sierra Club: Scott Pruitt is unfit to serve as EPA Administrator

SIERRA CLUB: SCOTT PRUITT IS UNFIT TO SERVE AS EPA ADMINISTRATOR


Scott Pruitt at CPAC 2015
Photo: Gage Skidmore 
Nation’s largest environmental organization asks Senate to stand up for Americans and oppose designation
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WASHINGTON D.C.-- Today, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he plans to appoint Scott Pruitt as Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, released the following statement:
“Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires. He is a climate science denier who, as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections.
“Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake. Scott Pruitt, whose own bio describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda’ cannot be trusted to head the EPA, an agency charged with protecting all Americans from threats to their water, air, and health. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the nation and oppose this nomination.”

Major Everglades clean water rally to be held on Thurs, Dec. 8 at West Palm Beach SFWMD headquarters

Friday, December 2, 2016

St. Pete 1st Southern city to commit to 100% clean energy

City Council Unanimously Approves Integrated Sustainability Action Plan, Combines Climate Action and Resiliency Plans


ST. PETERSBURG, FL -  The St. Petersburg City Council formally approved the city’s commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy on November 21. St. Petersburg is the first city in Florida and the entire Southeast U.S., and 20th city in the U.S., to make such a commitment.


In a unanimous vote, the City Council allocated $250,000 of BP Oil Spill settlement funds to an “Integrated Sustainability Action Plan” (ISAP), which will chart a roadmap to 100% clean, renewable energy in St Petersburg.  In addition, the plan also incorporates components of a climate action plan, a resiliency plan and strategies for St. Petersburg to achieve a 5 STAR Community rating.  The 100% clean energy roadmap builds on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Executive Order establishing a net-zero energy goal for the City earlier in 2016. 


Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement:

"The movement for clean energy in cities and towns across the country is now
more important than ever. St. Petersburg joins 19 other cities from San Diego, California to Greensburg, Kansas that will lead the way to support equitable and inclusive communities built on 100% clean, renewable energy for all. Whether you’re from a red state or blue state, clean energy works for everyone and local leaders will continue to move forward to create more jobs, stronger communities, and cleaner air and water."  



To celebrate St. Petersburg's achievement, the Suncoast Sierra Club will hold a celebration at the Station House in St. Petersburg on December 9th from 7 to 11 p.m. in St. Petersburg. RSVP to join this celebration.



Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club's FL Healthy Air Campaign
1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(o) 727-824-8813, ext. 303      (c) 813-841-3601