Friday, February 15, 2019

PRESS ADVISORY: Press Conference to Stop Kanter Real Estate Oil Drilling in the Everglades


For Immediate Release
Contact:  Cris Costello, 941-914-0421, cris.costello@sierraclub.org
Diana Umpierre, 954-829-7632, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org     

** PRESS ADVISORY **

LOCAL LEADERS, PUBLIC UNITE WITH A STRONG MESSAGE:
Stop Kanter Real Estate Exploratory Oil Drilling in the Everglades

WHAT:         
A press conference where local elected leaders, Everglades restoration and clean energy advocates, and concerned citizens will express their fierce, collective opposition to the Kanter Real Estate oil drilling proposal and call on the Governor, the legislature, and the public to support the efforts to stop Kanter’s plan.

WHEN:         
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 11:00 am
Please arrive for an 11 am sharp start-time; the press conference will last no longer than 30 minutes with Q&A to follow.

WHERE:
Everglades Holiday Park
There will be reserved parking for members of the media (parking map). 

WHO: 
Confirmed speakers:
·         Commissioner Beam Furr, Broward County Board of County Commissioners
·         Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners
·         Mayor Wayne Messam, City of Miramar
·         Commissioner Jay Schwartz, City of Pembroke Pines
·         Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director, South Florida Wildlands Association
·         Diana Umpierre, Organizing Representative, Sierra Club

The Broward League of Cities will be represented, as will organizations dedicated to the restoration of the Everglades and a 100% clean renewable energy future for Florida.  The public is invited.

**There will be visuals**

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Join our STOP THE BURN campaign!



This campaign is about asking the sugar growers to be BETTER NEIGHBORS.  

It is time to stop the “black snow.”

ALL our children deserve a healthy environment.

Have ideas you want to share?  We want to hear from you.  

Click here to learn more about our campaign and post your questions or stories. 

Click here to join the effort and/or sign up for email alerts            

WANT MORE INFO?

EMAIL:  patrick.ferguson@sierraclub.org 

CALL:  (954)288-4234

OFFICE:  136A S. Main St., Belle Glade, FL 33430 
Please call or email before you drop by to make sure we are in the office.

MAILING ADDRESS:  PO Box 2347, Belle Glade, FL 33430 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Governor DeSantis: Stop the SFWMD Motion to Vacate Everglades Consent Decree


For Immediate Release
February 7, 2019
Contact:  Cris Costello, cris.costello@sierraclub.org, 941-914-0421

Conservation Groups Urge Governor DeSantis to Stop
SFWMD Motion to Vacate Everglades Consent Decree

Tallahassee – Today environmental organizations from around the state sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis to urge him to direct the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to withdraw its motion to vacate the consent decree that has been the engine that has driven clean water protections for Everglades National Park for three decades:
February 7, 2019

The Honorable Ron DeSantis
The Florida Capitol 
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Dear Governor DeSantis:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we appreciate the strong commitments made within your first month as Governor on the importance of advancing Everglades restoration and solving Florida’s ongoing water crisis. We stand ready to work with your Administration to achieve our shared goals for restoring the Everglades and improving water quality across the state. 

In keeping with these strong commitments, we urge you to direct the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to withdraw its motion to vacate the consent decree that has been the engine driving water protections for Everglades National Park for three decades. 

Originally filed in 1988 by the United States and immediately joined by several major environmental organizations, the case sought to stop pollution of the Everglades, including the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park. Drainage pumps operated by SFWMD were pumping massive quantities of fertilizer-laden runoff from agricultural fields into the Everglades. After extensive settlement negotiations, a settlement agreement was reached by the parties in 1991 and then amended in 1995. Under the Amended consent decree, regulatory measures to reduce fertilizer runoff and the construction of artificial marshes – “Stormwater Treatment Areas” – were supposed to bring a halt to fertilizer pollution of the Everglades by the end of 2006. That deadline was not met and over the past dozen years, the sugar industry has made repeated efforts in the Legislature, in court, and in lobbying the District and the Governor’s Office to lift the requirements of the consent decree. To date, those efforts have been turned back by the federal court because of opposition from              the Justice Department under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and opposition from the Miccosukee Tribe, the environmental organizations that are parties to the case, and the wider Everglades restoration advocacy community.  

On Thursday, November 8, 2018 – two days after you were elected to office – the SFWMD Governing Board appointed by Governor Rick Scott, which you have recently asked to resign, voted to petition Judge Moreno to vacate the consent decree. They did so with a clear understanding of the significant public opposition such an action would bring and without offering you the time to be briefed on the issue. 

Vacating the consent decree represents a tremendous threat to Everglades National Park, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and Florida Bay.

Since taking office, you have been decisive in your commitment to bringing a “fresh start” to the SFWMD. We believe that a Governing Board with different leadership and priorities would agree that vacating the consent decree is a disservice to Florida’s public. As such, we urge you to work with your new appointees to withdraw the motion to vacate the consent decree. 

Sincerely,

Alex Gillen
Policy Director
Bullsugar Alliance

John Cassani
Calusa Waterkeeper

Jaclyn Lopez
Florida Director
Center for Biological Diversity

Margaret R. Stewart
Director
Center for Earth Jurisprudence

Michael Baldwin
President
“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society

Aliki Moncrief
Executive Director
Florida Conservation Voters

Jim Gross
Executive Director
Florida Defenders of the Environment

Michael Chenoweth
President 
Florida Division of the Izaak Walton League of America

Preston T. Robertson
President & CEO
Florida Wildlife Federation        

Elinor Williams
President
Friends of Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge 

Alan Farago
Conservation Chair
Friends of the Everglades 

Robert Knight
Director
Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

Reinaldo Diaz J.D.
President
Lake Worth Waterkeeper

Tom Bausch
Board of Directors
Martin County Conservation Alliance

Mark Ferrulo
Executive Director
Progress Florida

Diana Umpierre
Organizing Representative
Sierra Club


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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Good jobs and green harvesting: A match made in heaven

Where are all of these jobs the sugar industry claims are the reason for maintaining the status quo in the Everglades Agricultural Area? The truth is that they are so few and far between that there is plenty of room for green jobs, the kind of jobs that can sustain families, the local economy, and the environment.  The end of pre-harvest sugar field burning and true Everglades restoration, along with a movement to bring justice and equity to the residents of the Glades, can combine to bring new economic opportunities to the communities that ring Lake Okeechobee. So how do we get from here to there? At the 2019 Everglades Coalition Conference, a panel explored how the fight for social, economic, and environmental justice go hand in hand and how green jobs should and can be a part of the near future of the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Kina Phillips, a lifelong South Bay resident and a local activist, started the conversation by presenting the standing room only audience with an overview of the current economic realities facing of the Glades communities and the environmental injustice caused by pre-harvest sugar field burning.  Her description of the lack of economic opportunities and high unemployment rates in the Glades emphasized the need for a change from the current state of things in Western Palm Beach County.  She highlighted how this change needs be driven by the community itself and that the future of her Glades neighbors should not and cannot be driven solely by the interests of the sugar industry.  For Kina, the time for allowing the sugar industry to portray themselves as the voice of Glades residents is over.  It is time for the working people in the Glades to explore the job development opportunities that an end to pre-harvest sugar field burning would bring; that means more sugar industry jobs to manage the trash (leaves and tops) and jobs that have been kept out of the community because the annual blanket of smoke runs business interests and business people out of the Glades. She inspired all present with her determination to speak out against current injustices within the Glades in favor of a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy future for her beloved community. 


Larry Williams, Jr. of the Sierra Club Labor Program talked about just transition, a concept that relates to how we change from an unjust, unsustainable economy to an equitable, green one. Larry shared that a just transition will look different in different places, and that it is important for the community members themselves to shape the type of transition that best suits their interests and needs. He illustrated current examples of just transitions that are being ensured through collaborative efforts between community organizations, local governments, and local businesses around the country where old, hazardous dirty coal jobs have been replaced with training programs and clean-energy jobs that can support a family.  The models are there for the people of the Glades to use and modify to create a just transition from pre-harvest burning to green harvesting.  Sierra Club’s just transition work seeks to promote equitable access to clean-energy related and green jobs for all, especially vulnerable communities and individuals.

After Larry spoke it was time for Andrew Martino from Global Organics Ltd. to blow our minds with the details of how the switch to green harvesting in Brazil has increased profits and improved the health of workers and neighbors of Grupo Balbo’s Green Cane Project.  Grupo Balbo is one of the largest organic agricultural projects on earth with over 54,000 acres of certified organic sugarcane; their sugar is sold under the "Native" brand name.  Andrew shared how Grupo Balbo pioneered green harvesting in Brazil thirty-five years ago. Since its inception they have phased out pre-harvest sugarcane burning and have created a 100% carbon-neutral farming operation that replaces chemical fertilizers and pesticides with natural alternatives. In addition to sugar, they utilize the whole plant to produce organic ethanol, biodegradable plastics, alcohol, animal feed, and enough electricity during the harvesting season to power a city of hundreds of thousands of people. Andrew covered how in addition to remaining profitable they provide generous support to their employees including profit sharing programs, social and educational programs, and subsidized medical care for all 5,000 employees and their families, a community of over 12,000 people. 

If Brazil can do it why can’t Florida?

Due to the federal government shutdown, Dr. Isabel Lima, a research chemist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sugar and Energy Project, was unable to attend the conference.  But Dr. Lima provided slides for Patrick Ferguson, Organizing Representative on the Stop Sugarcane Field Burning Campaign, on sugarcane-based biochars currently being produced from green harvested sugarcane by American BiocarbonAmerican Biocarbon, in partnership with the Cora Texas sugar mill in Louisiana, utilizes sugarcane trash and bagasse to make biocarbon pellets, a sustainable biomass fuel source.  Dr. Lima’s research also illustrates that biochar can be used as an effective organic fertilizer as well as a sorbent for water filtration systems.

If Louisiana can do it why can’t Florida?

Patrick then took the audience to Australia for another example of the green harvest-green job potential:  Rocky Point MulchingRocky Point Mulching profitably markets sugarcane trash from green harvested sugarcane as commercial mulch.

 If Australia can do it why can’t Florida?

Florida can do it!  It is possible to imagine and create a just transition for the Glades.  We can ensure a true win-win-win situation if we refuse to accept anything less. There can be good green jobs and business opportunities for residents, a more equitable and sustainable local economy for all, and more profits for the sugar industry if we end the outdated practice of pre-harvest sugar-field burning and build a new green harvest-based economy.  



What’s next?  How do we use this just transition discussion as a jumping off spot for much more to come?  Contact Patrick Ferguson to join the conversation (patrick.ferguson@sierraclub.org).