Friday, March 26, 2021

"Right to Harm Act" Update

 Use your voice! .

The "Right to Harm Act" could be heard in its last House Committee any time now. It has not yet been placed on the Judiciary Committee agenda.




 What to say when you call: .


“Hello! My name is ______. I’m calling to ask Representative _____ to vote NO on House Bill 1601 during the Judiciary Committee hearing.

If this bill is really about “agritourism,” like the bill sponsor claims it is, then it should be amended to say that. As it stands now, the “Right To Harm” bill is a huge change in our legal system. Regular Floridians will have our ability to seek justice for health damages eliminated. This bad bill pre-selects winners and losers in lawsuits, and I am not okay with that.

Will Representative _____ vote NO on HB 1601, the “Right to Harm” bill, on Thursday?

Thank you!”





 Call these Florida Representatives: .

(It’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to send an email if calling isn’t an option - or do both!)


Targets on the Judiciary Committee:
  1. Representative Erin Grall (Republican): (850) 717-5054 (erin.grall@myfloridahouse.gov)
  2. Representative Tommy Gregory (Republican): (850) 717-5073 (tommy.gregory@myfloridahouse.gov)
  3. Representative Fentrice Driskell (Democrat): (850) 717-5063 (fentrice.driskell@myfloridahouse.gov)
  4. Representative Andrew Learned (Democrat): (850) 717- 5059 (andrew.learned@myfloridahouse.gov)
  5. Representative Robert Brannan (Republican): (850) 717-5010 (chuck.brannan@myfloridahouse.gov)
  6. Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera (Republican): (850) 717-5114 (demi.cabrera@myfloridahouse.gov)
  7. Representative Wyman Duggan (Republican): (850) 717-5015 (wyman.duggan@myfloridahouse.gov)
  8. Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin (Republican): (850) 717-5119 (juanf.barquin@myfloridahouse.gov)
  9. Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff (Republican): (850) 717-5026 (elizabeth.fetterhoff@myfloridahouse.gov)
  10. Representative Scott Plakon (Republican): (850) 717-5029 (scott.plakon@myfloridahouse.gov)
  11. Representative Spencer Roach (Republican): (850) 717-5079 (spencer.roach@myfloridahouse.gov)
  12. Representative Michelle Salzman (Republican): (850) 717-5001 (Michelle.salzman@myfloridahouse.gov)
  13. Representative John Snyder (Republican): (850) 717-5082 (john.snyder@myfloridahouse.gov)
  14. Representative Keith Truenow (Republican): (850) 717-5031 (Keith.Truenow@myfloridahouse.gov)
  15. Representative Ramon Alexander (Democrat): (850) 717-5008 (ramon.alexander@myfloridahouse.gov)
  16. Representative Michael Gottlieb (Democrat): (850) 717-5098 (michael.gottlieb@myfloridahouse.gov)
  17. Representative Dianne Hart (Democrat): (850) 717-5061 (dianne.hart@myfloridahouse.gov)
  18. Representative Cord Byrd (Republican): (850) 717-5011 (cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov)
  19. Representative Ben Diamond (Democrat): (850) 717-5068 (ben.diamond@myfloridahouse.gov)
  20. Representative Michael Grieco (Democrat): (850) 717-5113 (michael.grieco@myfloridahouse.gov)


<<alt text:black  graphic with white text states share this action alert on your social media to reach even more people, includes instructions for saving graphics and posting on social media platforms>>


You can also share this media attention to your social media, and ask friends to call their Florida Representative to vote NO on these bad bills.


“Environmentalists Say Bill To Protect Farmers From Lawsuits Disenfranches Communities Impacted By Sugarcane Burning”


"Right to Farm law unfairly favors agriculture"


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Monday, March 22, 2021

Your FL reps think you don't care about clean energy


Florida Representatives and Senators are saying that they don't hear from Floridians about clean energy.  That's why you need to tell them how you feel right now!


You've probably heard about all the bad bills filed in the Florida Legislature that move us backward on clean energy and would completely eliminate our cities' and counties' ability to transition to clean, renewable energy.  Elected officials are saying that they aren't hearing from people who oppose these bills, so they're voting the wrong way on them - and using us as an excuse!

Call this Senator and this Representative right now!
Senator: 614-610-1203
Representative: 202-688-5432

You'll get all the detailed instructions when you call the numbers above, then you'll be automatically patched through to the appropriate Senator or Representative.  We won't let elected officials use us a scapegoat.  Make the 2 calls above.

Two numbers, two calls: quick and easy.

Don't let elected officials use the excuse of not hearing from us in order to pass bad, regressive, anti-clean energy legislation.  Call them now.

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Additional info on the slate of bad energy bills can be found here.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Help us protect Florida communities from mountains of radioactive waste!


image481

Tell EPA to regulate radioactive gypsum stacks!

Help us protect our communities from radioactive waste. 

Radioactive waste called phosphogypsum is created  when fertilizer is produced by strip-mining phosphate rock from mineral deposits.  It is stored in giant “stacks” that can be over a mile wide and 200 feet tall, and can store up to nearly a billion tons of radioactive process water.  There are now over 70 of these looming monstrosities scattered throughout Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

This radioactive waste cannot be contained as currently managed, as evident from numerous documented cases of groundwater contamination, sinkholes, and leaks from these stacks.   

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged the need for a federal regulatory program addressing phosphogypsum for over three decades now but has failed to act beyond its 1989 rule requiring that phosphogypsum be placed in "stacks." 

Protect Our Communities From Radioactive Waste

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to hear from all of us. Please take action and urge the EPA to increase federal oversight over these stacks to ensure the safe treatment, storage and disposal of phosphogypsum and the process wastewater.

Check out this short video and learn more at our website!  

Thanks for all you do for the environment,
Herman Younger
Organizing Representative
Sierra Club Florida Chapter

Action Alert: Call Your Senator NOW on Senate Bill 88 "Farming Operations"

  Use your voice! .

Call your Senator before noon on Thursday, March 11th! The bill will be debated on the Senate Floor Thursday afternoon.




 What to say when you call: .


“Hello!  My name is ______ and I’m a constituent.  I’m calling to ask Senator _____ to vote NO on Senate Bill 88 on Thursday.


Everyone deserves an even playing field when it comes to our justice system.  SB 88 would greatly reduce our ability to hold agricultural industry defendants accountable by favoring them above plaintiffs and other businesses. This bad bill clearly picks winners and losers, and that’s just not fair to Floridians.


Please vote NO on SB 88.  Thank you!”


 Call your Florida Senator before noon on Thursday: .

(it’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to send an email if calling isn’t an option; do not forward this email to senators or representatives, instead, write a new email to them)


Find your Florida Senator by putting your address info in here (click this link), but be sure to come back to this email for your script).





<<alt text:black  graphic with white text states share this action alert on your social media to reach even more people, includes instructions for saving graphics and posting on social media platforms>>


You can also share this media attention to your social media, and ask friends to call their Florida Senator and Representative to vote NO on these bad bills.


“Environmentalists Say Bill To Protect Farmers From Lawsuits Disenfranches Communities Impacted By Sugarcane Burning”



 

If you want more info, dive in!  Remember, you don’t need to be an expert in order to take action.  Making the phone call is the most important part.

 

 The Problems with SB 88: .

  • SB 88 isn't simply adding agritourism to activities allowed under the Right to Farm Act.

  • It sets up an uneven playing field between potential plaintiffs and farm operation defendants by expanding protections beyond nuisance claims.

  • Floridians deserve the right to seek redress through our justice system without legislation that pre-determines winners and losers.

  • This bill favors farm operations above other everyday Floridians and businesses.

  • This bill will make it difficult or impossible for residents currently subjected to 8 months of smoke and ash from sugar burning each year to successfully sue for damages.


 More background information on this issue: .

  • Makes plaintiffs risk responsibility for the legal fees of farm operation defendants

    • Everyday Floridians with legitimate complaints are far less likely to seek and receive justice due to the enormous potential liability

    • This is a deliberate tactic to dissuade suits from being filed

  • Stretches the “coming to the nuisance” argument

    • “Right to Farm” laws protect farm operations from suits filed by newcomers who move to a farming area and complain about noise and smells on the grounds that they chose to “come to the nuisance”

    • SB 88 stretches that argument to extend protection to suits having nothing to do with newcomers moving in, such as negligence, personal injury, and defective product liability. No one chooses to “come to negligence.”

  • Creates a much steeper burden of proof for plaintiffs with legitimate injuries

    • Applies only to farm operations

  • Removes plaintiffs’ ability to seek health impact damages in court

    • Limits damage award to no more than the amount of reduction in value of a plaintiff’s property, even if their injury is entirely unrelated to that property

  • Eliminates liability for punitive damages for egregious conduct if an irrelevant threshold is not met

    •  requires a criminal conviction or civil enforcement by an environmental regulatory agency within 3 years of the start of the lawsuit

      • Not all civil actions are covered by criminal laws, and

      • Environmental agencies do not fine all violators. For years, DEP “encouraged compliance” instead of enforcing it.

  • Eliminates the rights of plaintiffs living more than 2,640 feet, ½ mile, from a farm operations defendant to address issues in court

    • Constituents that live 2,640 feet from a potential defendant have their rights removed (that’s the distance from the Capitol complex to Tennessee Street)

    • Water, air, noise, and light pollution can and do occur at much greater distances than ½ miles


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Monday, March 8, 2021

Bad Energy Bills Coming Up on Tuesday - Take Action Now!

 Use your voice! .

We need you to make calls to Senators in the Regulated Industries Committee and to Representatives in the Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee.  All the info is below.




 What to say when you call the SENATORS below: .


Make these calls before 5pm on Monday, March 8!


“Hello!  My name is ______.  I’m calling to ask Senator _____ to vote NO on Senate Bill 856 and 1128 during the Regulated Industries Committee on Tuesday morning.


Even with the updates made in the amendments, these bad bills are still extremely broad.  They would eliminate home rule and our ability to transition to clean, renewable energy.  We deserve to say how our community is powered.  Please don’t take away our ability to mitigate climate change at the local level.


Please vote NO on SB 856 and 1128.  Thank you!”


Do you live in one of the 11 cities that have made 100% clean energy commitments (Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Satellite Beach, Dunedin, Largo, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and South Miami)?  Let them know!


  1. Senator Ed Hooper: (850) 487-5016

  2. Senator Darryl Rouson: (850) 487-5019

  3. Senator Linda Stewart: (850) 487-5013

  4. Senator Lauren Book: (850) 487-5032

  5. Senator Joe Gruters: (850) 487-5023

  6. Senator Kathleen Passidomo: (850) 487-5028





 What to say when you call the REPRESENTATIVES below: .


Make these calls before 11am, Tuesday, March 9!


“Hello!  My name is ______.  I’m calling to ask Representative _____ to vote NO on House Bill 839 during the Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday afternoon.


Even with the updates made in the Proposed Committee Substitute, this bad bill is still extremely broad.  It would eliminate our ability to transition to clean, renewable energy by taking away home rule.  We deserve to say how our community is powered.  Please don’t take away our ability to mitigate climate change at the local level.


Please vote NO on HB 839.  Thank you!”


Do you live in one of the 11 cities that have made 100% clean energy commitments (Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Satellite Beach, Dunedin, Largo, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and South Miami)?  Let them know!


Priority calls:

  1. Representative Linda Chaney: (850) 717-5069

  2. Representative Randy Fine: (850) 717-5053

  3. Representative Fiona McFarland: (850) 717-5072

  4. Representative Dana Trabulsy: (850) 717-5084

  5. Representative Emily Slosberg: (850) 717-5091

  6. Representative Kamia Brown: (850) 717-5045

  7. Representative Tracie Davis: (850) 717-5013

  8. Representative Kelly Skidmore: (850) 717-5081

  9. Representative Dotie Joseph: (850) 717-5108


Have time to make more calls?  These are lower priority, but still important!

  1. Representative Jason Shoaf: (850) 717-5007

  2. Representative Jayer Williamson: (850) 717-5003

  3. Representative David Silvers: (850) 717-5087

  4. Representative James Buchanan: (850) 717-5074

  5. Representative Clay Yarborough: (850) 717-5012

  6. Representative Chip LaMarca: (850) 717-5093

  7. Representative Brad Drake: (850) 717-5005

  8. Representative Mike Beltran: (850) 717-5057

  9. Representative Rick Roth: (850) 717-5085




<<alt text:black  graphic with white text states share this action alert on your social media to reach even more people, includes instructions for saving graphics and posting on social media platforms>>


 

If you want more info, dive in!  Remember, you don’t need to be an expert in order to take action.  Making the phone call is the most important part.

 

 The Problems with SB 856 / HB 839: .

  • Broad, retroactive preemption bill

  • Prevents municipalities and counties from regulating new energy infrastructure in any way whatsoever, including clean renewables and dirty fossil fuels

  • Devastates bargaining power and could interfere with ongoing contracts in pursuit of energy conversion goals

  • Negates the immense amount of staff, volunteer, and constituent time that went into crafting, passing, and implementing more than 11 clean energy ordinances/resolutions


 More background information on this issue: .

  • The sponsors filed a “strike all amendment” to their own bills.  Meaning they essentially substituted a new bill in place of the old one.  The “new” bill is still extremely broad, retroactive, and overall terrible.  It still has the effect of preventing municipalities and counties from regulating electricity.

  • There are several other bad energy preemptions bills, too: SB 1128/HB 919, SB 1236/HB 617, and SB 1008/HB 761.

  • House Speaker Sprowls and Governor Ron DeSantis have a new push for sea level rise adaptation.  While this is an important and worthy pursuit, they refuse to address the cause of climate change: greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time these bills will prevent local communities from tackling the problem.

  • We cannot “adapt” our way out of climate change.  We have to address the cause by reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses.  Our cities and counties are ready to do their part, but state leadership wants to eliminate this option, and instead extend our reliance on fossil fuels.


This Action Alert post will be updated as bills progress, so save this link!


Want to keep tabs on this slate of bad energy bills?  Check out this document, or track bills here.


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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Contact Representatives to Oppose HB 1 ✊

 UPDATED on SATURDAY, MARCH 6! 


HB 1 was created to silence and criminalize everyday Floridians from speaking out for justice.

Governor DeSantis made this bill his top priority for 2021 legislation, despite an ongoing pandemic and social unrest.  He would rather silence Floridians than offer real solutions.

Call before noon on Wednesday!

These bills are not needed. Violence, destruction of property, and seditious acts are already prohibited by law. HB1 is overbroad and vague in defining an “unlawful assembly,” opening nearly endless possibilities for abuse.

The health of our communities and our local and state economies are intrinsically linked to the health of our natural resources. Conservation organizations like ours work to inform decision makers and drive policy regarding environmental issues in Florida and off our coasts. We use a variety of tools to carry out our respective missions to better Florida’s environment, including litigation, science, media, lobbying, and various forms of assembly. Floridians rally, protest, march, sign wave, and gather in vigils to better Florida’s environment. There is a rich history of public protest in the interest of protecting and restoring Florida’s natural resources. Recent examples include rallies to support increased funding for conservation land acquisition -- where ranchers stood alongside environmentalists -- and rallies by Floridians for Solar Choice: an alliance of libertarians, Christian Coalition conservatives, liberal environmentalists, and Tea Party groups aimed at securing the future for solar power in the state.

This legislation threatens our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly as tools for change. This stands to worsen discriminatory treatment of protestors and stifle protected speech. HB 1 would chill participation in protests because potential demonstrators would have to risk arrest and prosecution for “riot” just for being in the vicinity of others who might choose to perform unlawful acts. Even our large scale Climate Marches could be subject to this additional burden of participation.

People travel from around the world to visit our springs, rivers, beaches, bays, forests, wetlands, parks, and preserves. We live and work here because we enjoy Florida’s natural environment. These bills would undermine our ability to achieve our shared conservation goals and as a result would put at risk our very way of life.

 Please call the Judiciary Committee members and tell them you OPPOSE HB 1 for these reasons and more: 

  • This bill would undermine our ability to achieve conservation goals.
  • It would embolden bad actors who would violently harm peaceful protestors.
  • It creates a chilling effect on participation in climate marches, justice protests, and gatherings in favor of solar energy.
  • It would take away local decision making on law enforcement budgets and put natural resources at further risk of underfunding.

Call these Representatives before noon Wednesday.

Representative Tommy Gregory: (850) 717-5073
Representative Robert Brannan: (850) 717-5010
Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera: (850) 717-5114
Representative Wyman Duggan: (850) 717-5015
Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff: (850) 717-5026
Representative Erin Grall: (850) 717-5054
Representative Scott Plakon: (850) 717-5029
Representative Spencer Roach: (850) 717-5079
Representative Michelle Salzman: (850) 717-5001
Representative John Snyder: (850) 717-5082
Representative Keith Truenow: (850) 717-5031
Representative Cord Byrd: (850) 717-5011





Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Contact members of the FL House Tourism, Infrastructure, & Energy Subcommittee Immediately to Oppose HB 839!


HB 839 preempts energy infrastructure to the State. It prohibits local governments from future restrictions or requirements on the construction of energy infrastructure  and voids any adopted rule, regulation, ordinance, policy, resolution, etc. affecting energy infrastructure. The bill has its first hearing tomorrow, March 3rd, at 1 PM. 

If passed, the bill would void all the work Sierra Club Florida (and others) has done in obtaining city commitments for 100% clean energy for the past 5 years and would prevent any further work going forward. It also would restrict renewable energy construction to only what the legislature mandates.

Please call or email the members of the FL House Tourism, Infrastructure, & Energy Subcommittee and ask the member to OPPOSE HB 839 as the bill will: 

  • Prevent localities from prohibiting, restricting, or requiring construction of new energy infrastructure - both renewable and fossil

  • Devastate municipal budgets and bargaining power

  • Eliminate local energy choices and leaves our energy future solely in the hands of the state legislature

  • Retroactively wipes out municipal progress toward clean energy


Eleven cities​ ​have taken leadership in support of our state’s transition to a cleaner and more resilient energy future.​ ​More than 1.1 million Floridians - 5+% of our population - live in a community committed to powering​ ​their city with 100% clean and renewable electricity. Help us maintain momentum​ by opposing HB 839.

Members of the Committee: 

​All phone numbers are 850.717.XXXX

Chair Brad Drake (R)   850.717.5005
Vice Chair Chip LaMarca (R)   5093
​Democratic Ranking Member, Emily Slosberg (D)  5091
Rep. Mike Beltran (R)  5057
Rep. Kamia Brown (D)  5045
Rep. James Buchanan (R)  5074
Rep. Linda Chaney (R)  5069
Rep. Tracie Davis (D) 5013
Rep. Randy Fine (R)  5053
Rep. Dotie Joseph (D)  5108  
Rep. Fiona McFarland (R)  5072
Rep. Rick Roth (R)  5085
Rep. Jason Shoaf (R)  5007
Rep. David Silvers (D)  5087
Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D)  5081
Rep. Dana Trabulsy (R)  5084
Rep. Jayer Williamson (R)  5003
Rep. Clay Yarborough (R)  5012

Thank you for all you do for Florida's environment!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Press Release: Tiny Florida Key Deer Wins in US District Court

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2021
Contact:  Karimah Schoenhut, 202-548-4584, karimah.schoenhut@sierraclub.org
Diana Umpierre, 954-829-7632, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org

** PRESS RELEASE**
TINY FLORIDA KEY DEER WINS IN US DISTRICT COURT
US Fish & Wildlife Service Ordered to Release Public Records

Belle Glade, FL – On Friday, February 26, 2021, a district court agreed with Sierra Club that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) was improperly refusing to make public an Endangered Species Act "Species Status Assessment" report regarding the endangered Florida Key deer. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the release of this "purely factual scientific report" pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. The court also found that the agency had failed to justify its refusal to release other records related to this report, such as communications from agency scientists regarding its contents. Release of this report will help shed light on the Fish & Wildlife Service's inexplicable rush during the Trump administration to strip the species of Endangered Species Act protections despite severe population losses from Hurricane Irma and screw worm disease, and the devastating impacts of sea level rise, which will extirpate the species absent drastic action.

After secretly initiating a status review process for the Key deer in 2017, FWS completed a status assessment report in January 2018. For over a year and half, despite concerns raised by its own staff regarding sea level rise impacts, FWS wasted scarce resources on developing a proposed rule to delist the Florida Key deer – and even drafted a "post-delisting" monitoring plan for the species. By August 2019, FWS was on the brink of announcing the proposed delisting when a last-minute peer review from the United States Geological Survey made it clear that FWS could not just write-off sea level rise impacts. Since that time, FWS apparently has been working on another proposed rule that would "down-list" the species to "threatened" instead of "endangered," a move that would open the door to reducing protections for the Key deer from killing and other forms of harm.

Karimah Schoenhut, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program said: “Under the Trump administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service shamefully attempted to shield its scientific assessment from public scrutiny while rushing forward with work to strip protections for the species. We hope that the Biden administration will see this as the red flag that it is and carefully re-evaluate this entire status review process prior to proposing any change to protections for the Key deer.”

“It's ridiculous that it took three years and a lawsuit for FWS to allow Key deer advocates, volunteers that give countless hours to protect the species, to finally see this report. Key deer advocates know, as does FWS, that Key deer could face extinction from climate change if inaction continues. Instead of hiding public records they should have been spending their energy to save a species.” said Diana Umpierre, Sierra Club Everglades Restoration Campaign Organizing Representative.



Florida Key deer photo:

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Florida Key deer
at the USFWS National Key Deer Refuge
at Big Pine Key (Photo by Aaron Umpierre)