Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Safety Harbor Becomes Florida's Ninth City to Commit to a 100 Percent Clean Energy for All Future

With Commission vote, city joins Sunshine State movement to go all-renewable 
Over 80 supporters wore this
sticker to make their point known
to the Safety Harbor Commission.
They definitely saw us all!

Safety Harbor, FL – On Monday night, June 17, the City Commission of Safety Harbor voted unanimously to become Florida’s ninth city to adopt a resolution setting a 100 percent clean, renewable energy community-wide goal, committing the City to plan for the complete elimination of all fossil fuels in the electricity sector by 2035 for municipal operations and 2050 community-wide. The resolution creates an inclusive community planning process to guide a transition for both municipal operations as well as the entire community.

So many people, the fire marshall feared he'd have to turn
people away. So many, we couldn't get everyone in the shot! 

Safety Harbor joins the Pinellas County cities of Dunedin, Largo, and St. Petersburg in moving to clean, renewable energy, along with Sarasota, Orlando, Tallahassee, Gainesville, and most recently, South Miami. Across the US, 126 other cities have also made such commitments, from small towns like Safety Harbor to some of America’s major cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, and Atlanta. The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, plus  Washington, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii have also set 100 percent clean energy targets.

Pinellas Suncoast Group lead volunteer for Ready for 100,
Bryan Beckman, addresses the City Commission.

These commitments lay the foundation for an equitable and just transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy across the state and country. Across the US, 70 million people, or 1 in 5 residents, now live in a place committing to moving beyond fossil fuels to a healthier, more affordable, and more just system powered by 100 percent clean energy.

Earlier that same day, Bryan Beckman was a guest on the
WMNF 88.5 Sustainable Living Show with
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, chair of the House Select Committee on the
 Climate Crisis. You can listen to that great conversation here.
The show was co-hosted by a resident of Safety Harbor,
 and discussed climate action at the national and local level. 

In response to the Commission's vote, Suncoast Sierra Club Ready for 100
volunteer leader Bryan Beckman issued the following statement:

“Safety Harbor has shown great leadership to set 100 percent renewable energy goals.  Implementing energy efficiencies and renewables saves money, reduces pollution, and creates local jobs.  The community looks forward to working with city officials to build an implementation plan with a sense of urgency that is inclusive, transparent, and equitable.”
 Laura McCullough of Indivisible Safety Harbor issued the following:

“We seek a world based on love and caring, kindness and generosity, empathy and compassion, social, economic and environmental justice, peace and nonviolence, and protection of the life support system of our planet. We believe that the Earth is a living organism and that we are dependent upon its well-being for our well-being. We commit to being in right relationship with nature, and be stewards of the Earth to ensure its well-being and longevity.”

Safety Harbor City Commissioner Andy Zodrow also issued the following:

“I am proud that the City of Safety Harbor could be the 127th City in the nation and 9th in Florida to be approved for the Ready for 100 commitment to achieve 100% clean, renewable energy. I want to thank the city staff, the Commission and most importantly the residents who came out in support of the resolution and the goal of renewable energy in our community.”

Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club's FL Healthy Air & Ready for 100 Campaigns:
Clean Energy & Clean Transportation for All 
1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(o) 727-824-8813, ext. 303      (c) 813-841-3601 
phil.compton@sierraclub.org   https://twitter.com/PhilCompton

Monday, June 10, 2019

YMCA in St. Petersburg Saves Money, Energy by Switching to LED Lighting

As part of a countywide  effort to transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy,  Suncoast Sierra Club, along with several private donors,  has provided the  Jim & Heather Gills YMCA of Greater St Petersburg  with funding  to install LED lighting throughout the  facility. 
YMCA staff and Suncoast Sierra Club leaders 

The YMCA, located at 3200 First Ave. South, is in the process of replacing over 900 fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs. The project is expected to be completed by the end of this summer. "We are extremely grateful for the support from the Suncoast Sierra Club in providing energy efficient lighting at our Jim & Heather Gills YMCA,” said  David Jezek President/CEO, YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.  “In addition to the improved lighting, we expect to see significant savings in our energy bills.  These savings will allow us to make a great impact in the lives of those we serve."  

The  Jim & Heather Gills YMCA serves the needs of the community with a full-size  gymnasium and fitness room, indoor heated pool,  fitness classes, cycling studio, after school  programs, and outreach services.  The transition to LED lighting is estimated to save the branch over $10,000 per year in electricity, a savings that will pay for the cost of the bulbs in less than 6 months, according to Bryan Beckman, chair of the Pinellas  Ready for 100 campaign.  
Beckman, who spearheaded the energy efficiency project at the YMCA, calculated that the LED lighting use would save an estimated 70 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year -  the equivalent to installing 200 solar panels.  Given the estimated life of the bulbs, he said, over $100,000 is expected to be saved. “Sierra Club is  very proud  to have helped with the new LED lighting,” Beckman said at the May 30 ribbon cutting and rededication of the gym and activity center after recent upgrades and renovations.  “Businesses, residents and cities can have a big impact on our environment by installing similar efficiencies that save money and reduce carbon pollution at the same time.”
ABOUT READY FOR 100:  The Pinellas Ready for 100 campaign aims  to help local cities, businesses and residents transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in an effort to  make  Florida  resilient to climate change  and  stop the burning of  fossil fuels. Cities in Pinellas County that have signed on with resolutions to move to 100 percent  clean energy include St. Petersburg, Largo and Dunedin.

To learn more about the Pinellas Ready for 100 campaign or how to  transition to clean, renewable energy, contact Bryan Beckman at bryanb@suncoastsierra.org  or go to   www.sierraclub.org/florida/suncoast/100pinellas

Bryan Beckman
Suncoast Sierra Club

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Sierra Club Statement Regarding Berman Law Group Class Action Lawsuit

For Immediate Release
June 5, 2019
Contact:  Patrick Ferguson, patrick.ferguson@sierraclub.org, 954-288-4234

Sierra Club Statement Regarding Berman Law Group Class Action Lawsuit

The Sierra Club Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign, launched in 2015, is not a party to the Berman Law Group class action lawsuit.  The fight to move Big Sugar to stop pre-harvest field burning is a huge one.  Many generations, hundreds of thousands of residents, in and around the Glades have been subjected to the smoke and ash that the industry has callously dumped upon them.  We are pleased that the work of local Stop the Burn-Go Green activists over the last four years has elevated the issue to a such a high profile; this lawsuit is one of many new angles from which impacted residents will come to pressure the sugar industry to “stop the burn.”

Pre-harvest sugar field burning is an outdated, toxic, and unjust practice that the sugar industry can and must stop.  The alternative, the green harvesting of sugarcane, is already practiced in other countries, in parts of Louisiana, and even in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) when convenient for the Florida sugar industry.  It has long been time for the industry to move to modern, sustainable green harvesting as the ultimate solution to the environmental injustice of pre-harvest sugar field burning. Green harvesting not only ends the burn, but also provides growers a new source of income.  The trash that is now going up in smoke can be turned into biochar, biofuels, electricity, tree-free paper products, and mulch, the production of which can provide new jobs so badly needed in the Glades. 

We challenge anyone who calls for further study or monitoring of air quality or health impacts.  The health and quality of life impacts from sugar field burning are already firmly established. It is unconscionable to suggest kicking the can further down the road when (1) the solution is clear, and (2) right now the more affluent citizens to the east are already protected because burn permits are not granted when the wind blows their way.  Everyone in and around the EAA deserves the same protection no matter where they live, and they deserve that protection now.

Sierra Club Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign Information:

  1. Stop the Burn Campaign Primer:  http://bit.ly/2HoaaYj
  2. Sugarcane burn zones map and wind restriction definitions:  http://bit.ly/2yJzIba
  3. Stop the Burn Fact Sheet:  http://bit.ly/2IFPWMb
  4. Health impact study summaries:  http://bit.ly/2T38TsZ
  5. “Counterattack on Stop The Burn: Big Sugar loses its cool”:   http://www.sierraclubfloridanews.org/2019/04/counterattack-on-stop-burn-big-sugar.html
  6. “Fake Billboard for a Fake Claim”: 

Find press release here.