Wednesday, May 5, 2021

PRESS RELEASE - Dear President Biden: Stop the Expansion of Homestead Air Reserve Base

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 5, 2021

Contact:  Diana Umpierre, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org, 954-829-7632

 

**PRESS RELEASE**

DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN:

Stop the Expansion of Homestead Air Reserve Base


MIAMI—Today, seven national and regional organizations delivered a letter to President Joe Biden requesting his intervention to halt any actions by the US Air Force that could lead to the installation of commercial and private cargo operations at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Southern Florida at the edge of America’s most threatened national parks.

Everglades Restoration is the most ambitious program to restore a dying ecosystem in the world.

Environmentalists have long opposed local government’s intent to convert the air base in Florida for industrial, private commerce, despite a decades long controversy that involved dozens of state, local, and national environmental groups to protect the simultaneous investment of billions of taxpayer dollars for the Everglades.

The groups oppose the County’s current plan: to pry open the air base with a “small private fixed-base operator” that environmentalists claim is a precursor to significant cargo operations. Both FedEx and Amazon have logistics operations within a mile and a half of the air base.

In recent months, environmentalists flagged this brewing controversy with a series of letters to the Air Force. The letter to the Biden White House represents an escalation of concern and specifically requests that the administration halt a Joint Uses Agreement process triggered by Miami-Dade. Signatories of the letter include:

Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Scott Kovarovic, Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America
Brad Sewell, Director, Oceans Division, Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
Melissa E. Abdo, Ph.D., Regional Director, Sun Coast, National Parks Conservation Association
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Eve Samples, Executive Director, Friends of the Everglades
Dominique Burkhardt, Staff Attorney, Earthjustice

“The Homestead Air Reserve Base would be a terrible place for increased commercial air traffic and pollution, threatening Biscayne and Everglades National Parks next door,” said Oliver Bernstein, a member of the Sierra Club national board of directors who led student opposition to expanding the Homestead air base in the late 1990’s.”

Noel Cleland, Sierra Club Miami Group Chair said: "We don't need more urban sprawl in South Florida. The push to develop the Homestead airport area will invariably end up with less farmland and more traffic. Let's preserve what we have left for future generations!”

"Twenty years ago we defeated attempts to turn this military air base into another Miami International Airport. We are now in climate emergency and species extinction crises. Biscayne Bay waters are heavily polluted. What else is there to explain? The Southern Everglades needs climate leadership committed to natural and nature-based coastal restoration and resiliency rather than a commitment to more urban expansion, cargo planes, huge warehouses, truck traffic, or a space port," stated Diana Umpierre, Sierra Club Everglades Restoration Campaign Organizing Representative.

Read the full letter to President Biden: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lx9187NF3W-5AjOTqdolxIyxVlBFl_eA/view?usp=sharing

Background

February 19, 2021: Letter to Robert E. Moriarty, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations: 
https://www.everglades.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Homestead-Air-Reserve-Base-coalition-letter-2-19-21.docx.pdf

March 10, 2021: Miami Herald article, “With Amazon nearby, activists remain wary of county plans for Homestead Air Base”: 
https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article248517965.html

October 8, 2021: Miami Herald article, “Homestead airport plan gets OK. Despite amendment to prohibit cargo flights, activists skeptical”: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article246255350.html

April 14, 2021: Miami Herald OPED, “Do not expand the Urban Development Boundary in South Dade. It’s needless and destructive.”:
https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article250674314.html

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The Sierra Club fought a proposal for commercial use of the Homestead military air base in the late 1990s and early 2000. This image was used by Sierra Club in 2000 to call attention to the threats an airport expansion at this location would pose to the two national parks next to the base: Everglades and Biscayne Bay National Parks.