Friday, September 25, 2020

Governor DeSantis' Threat of "Law and Order" Legislation is a Dangerous Campaign Ploy

Instead of addressing rising COVID-19 cases and deaths, fixing a broken unemployment system, handling the current and expanding economic crisis, and dealing with pending evictions and utility shutoffs, Governor DeSantis has mirrored President Trump’s playbook and is using the fa├žade of “law and order” legislation to intimidate Floridians from exercising their first amendment rights to peacefully protest and exercise free speech. This is nothing more than a dangerous campaign ploy and a reaction to the power of the Black Lives Matter protests. 

We at Sierra Club Florida stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests and refuse to take the bait by doubling down on our efforts to elect pro-environment and democracy candidates up and down the ticket. We know most Sierra Club members are registered to vote and can be counted on to vote. It is imperative we all get involved by registering others, reminding friends, family, and neighbors to complete and mail their ballots or get to the polls, and to help our endorsed candidates with phone banking, texting, and letter writing-- our democracy relies on it. 

If legislation is filed, we will vehemently oppose anything that limits freedom of speech, the right to assemble and to protest. That is in our DNA. For now, we must ensure the state of our democracy and get out the vote for the 2020 general election on November 3rd!

Monday, September 21, 2020

FDOT FAILS TO PROVIDE CRITICAL M-CORES DETAILS: Cornell Consulting Fills the Void

For Immediate Release

September 16, 2020 

Contacts: Michael McGrath, michael.mcgrath@sierraclub.org, 386-341-4708

Julianne Thomas,  JulianneT@conservancy.org, 239-293-7460

Ryan Smart, smart@floridaspringscouncil.org, 561-358-7191

** PRESS RELEASE**

FDOT FAILS TO PROVIDE CRITICAL M-CORES DETAILS: 

Cornell Consulting Fills the Void


FT. MYERS -- A collaboration between the No Roads to Ruin Coalition Steering Committee and Cornell Consulting, a student-run management consulting firm and the leading consulting organization at Cornell University, resulted in a series of three new policy reports authored by Cornell Consulting analysts and released today, that answer questions relating to the fiscal feasibility (or lack thereof), economic and environmental impacts, traffic congestion, and hurricane evacuation issues the M-CORES (Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance) project has raised but have remained unanswered by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).


At a virtual press conference, Michael McGrath, Sierra Club Organizing Representative, joined Sadaf Knight, Florida Policy Institute Chief Executive Officer and Cornell Consulting analysts Gayatri Sriram, Justin Zhang, William McGrath, Evan Tong, and Lucien Wostenholme to summarize the report findings — which include alternative solutions independent of road construction.  Julianne Thomas, Conservancy of Southwest Florida Senior Environmental Planning Specialist, joined the panel to answer questions from both the press and the public.  Over 40 “No Build” activists from around the state joined the event via Facebook Live and Zoom.


The bottom line that emerged from Cornell Consulting’s analysis is that M-CORES is infeasible, creates negative returns, and therefore fails to meet its goals.  However, alternative strategies could achieve success. 


Cornell Consulting’s data-driven analysis fills the void left by FDOT and the failed M-CORES Task Force processes and offers further support for the “No Build” option that has been demanded by the public since day one of the series of task force meetings which began in August 2019.  M-CORES task force members have requested, repeatedly, that the “No Build” option be discussed in detail but FDOT has ignored those requests. 


Sadaf Knight, Florida Policy Institute Chief Executive Officer stated:  “The revenue needed to fund this project — $1.7 billion in state funding and total construction costs of $10.3 billion — should instead be used to bolster the state budget and preserve public services. This is especially true given that the analysis performed by Cornell Consulting found that the M-CORES project will fail to deliver on its promised outcomes, and that it will be fiscally unsound and cause environmental harm.”  See full statement here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yEJtUHk6OKV1urEZs1jgnbbZIVnS-Yxo/view?usp=sharing 


The three reports and accompanying slide decks have been sent to the members of all three task forces and FDOT staff.


Go here for links to all three reports and the full array of slides produced by Cornell Consulting:  http://noroadstoruin.org/white-papers/


Go here for Zoom recording:
https://bit.ly/32AmQ8N


Go here for entire Facebook Live event:  https://www.facebook.com/110977273719441/videos/709208949807039 


BACKGROUND:  Since launching the task force process in August 2019, the No Roads to Ruin Coalition (NRTR) has played a key role in public outreach and government accountability. The toll road task forces are expected to release a final report to the Governor, Legislature, and FDOT by Nov. 15, 2020. The NRTR coalition recommends the ‘No Build’ option. Go to http://noroadstoruin.org/ for more information on the 95 coalition partners and their cause.


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Friday, September 18, 2020

SIERRA CLUB, RAMETTA INTEND TO SUE OVER SERENOVA PRESERVE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept 13, 2020
Contact
: Tim Martin, Tim.Martin@Florida.Sierraclub.org, 727-251-9979

**PRESS RELEASE**

SIERRA CLUB, RAMETTA INTEND TO SUE OVER SERENOVA PRESERVE

On Sept. 10, the Sierra Club and Dan Rametta filed notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for violations under the Endangered Species Act with respect to the Ridge Road Extension project at the Serenova Preserve in Pasco County.  Under the Endangered Species Act, before a plaintiff may bring a failure to consult claim, it must serve the government agency with a notice of its intent to sue at least 60 days prior to filing suit. 

The notice outlined a number of flaws and inadequacies in the Biological Opinion prepared for the Ridge Road Extension project, which resulted in an unlawful avoidance of assessing the project’s impacts on the Eastern Indigo Snake.  The notice also addressed the Corps’ unlawful decision to bypass the comprehensive analysis process, known as formal consultation, for impacts to the Florida Scrub Jay and Red-cockaded woodpecker.

“A lot of damage has already been done. Gopher tortoise burrows and Eastern indigo snake habitat have been destroyed,” said Dan Rametta, a longtime opponent of the Ridge Road Extension. “Hopefully the judge will implement a stop work injunction immediately.  We would then like to see the area returned to its natural state.”

“Congress passed the Endangered Species Act nearly 50 years ago.  We are currently facing a massive global extinction of species. Upholding this bedrock environmental law is more important than ever,” added Tim Martin, Conservation Chair for Sierra Club Florida.  

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