1. Fracking Ban bill up in committee on Wednesday – Calls needed!

    Two good bills and one bad one will be heard in the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources this Wednesday (Valentine’s Day!) at 1:30 pm

    Please call or email committee members today and urge them to

    VOTE YES on SB 462 to Ban all types of Fracking in Florida
    Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment
    by Sen. Young
    VOTE YES on SB 1664 to require septic tank remediation to
    protect and restore our water bodies
    Basin Management Action Plans
    by Sen. Simmons


    VOTE NO on SB 1402 which will authorize Florida to take
    responsibility for protecting our wetlands away from the
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    SB 1402 State Assumption of Federal Section 404 
    Dredge and Fill Permitting Authority
    also by Sen. Simmons
    SB 462 Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment by Sen. Dana Young which will ban all types of fracking: hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing, and acid-matrix stimulation in Florida . 
    ·         Wreaking havoc with Florida’s water through excessive and wasteful consumptive use
    ·         Chemical pollution of surface waters and the aquifer
    ·         Human health impacts from toxic chemicals
    ·         Increasing Florida’s dependence on natural gas
    SB 1664 Basin Management Action Plans by Sen. Simmons will require the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, local governments, and wastewater utilities to develop a septic tank remediation plan as part of a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) when DEP identifies septic systems as a significant source of pollution. This is an important step to address our polluted water bodies.
    SB 1402 State Assumption of Federal Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permitting Authority by Sen. Simmons would authorize Florida’s DEP to take charge of wetland protection from the EPA.  The Department claims it will look at every issue the feds look at, but how hard they’ll look, and for how long is a mystery.  The details of implementation will only be worked out long after the bill becomes law.
    Florida advocated against EPA’s Clean Water Rule, and now the State wants to take responsibility for the very resource it argued shouldn’t be under EPA’s jurisdiction - geographically isolated wetlands. 
    In addition, DEP’s staff has been cut by 25% and the federal government will not provide any funding for Florida taking over the job. 

    Please contact the committee members below and urge them to vote

    YES – to Ban Fracking!
    YES – to clean up Septic Tanks!
    NO – to removing wetlands from federal protection!

    Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources 2018
    Sen. Book
    Part of Broward
    Sen. Hukill
    Parts of Brevard and Volusia
    Sen. Braynon
    Parts of Broward and Miami-Dade
    Sen. Garcia
    Part of Miami-Dade
    Sen. Hutson
    Flagler, St. Johns and part of Volusia
    Sen. Mayfield
    Indian River and part of Brevard
    Sen. Stewart
    Part of Orange
  2. Marine Mammal Commission Proposed for Elimination in Trump's Budget

    Dr. Daryl Boness, Chairman of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, yesterday emailed the following message protesting President Trump's proposal to eliminate the Commission in the FY 2019 Budget.  His simple but eloquent note inspires dolphin and whale lovers including members of Sierra Club Florida to fight harder to oppose Trump's disastrous environmental budget cuts and policies.

    From: Marine Mammal Commission [mailto:mmc@mmc.gov]
    Sent: Monday, February 12, 2018 10:01 AM
    Subject: MMC Proposed for Elimination
    Marine Mammal Commission
    Proposed for Elimination
    For about 1 penny per American per year, the Marine Mammal Commission has met its Congressional mandate to conserve marine mammals for over 40 years.
    President Trump released the Administration's budget proposal to Congress on February 12, 2018, requesting the elimination of the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) in fiscal year 2019 (which begins on October 1, 2018), as he did in FY2018. I again deeply regret having to share this news with you and express my concern about the impact this proposal would have on the American public, marine mammals, and our marine and coastal communities.

    In the early 1970s, in response to a concerned American public, widespread recognition that marine mammals are important ocean ambassadors, and an understanding that they play a critical role in the health and productivity of our world's oceans, Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This legislation firmly placed the United States at the forefront of marine mammal and marine ecosystem conservation. It also supported coastal economies that generate significant revenues and jobs from healthy populations of marine mammals. As mandated by the MMPA, the Commission has, for nearly half a century, provided independent, science based oversight of federal activities and programs affecting marine mammals-a function performed by no other agency. 

    The Commission sits at the juncture where science, policy, and economic factors are reconciled to meet the mandates of the MMPA, which balance the demands of human activities with the protection of marine mammals and the environment that sustains them. This role helps ensure an effective and efficient regulatory process that abides by Congressional directives, takes into account all stakeholder views, and is based on the best available science. We excel at bringing people together to find solutions to problems before they become crises. We fund cutting edge, low-cost research projects designed to achieve a large impact. We work to ensure the health of marine mammal populations in our oceans and we protect the subsistence hunting rights of Alaska Natives. We proudly perform these and other duties with a modest annual operating budget of $3.431 million, which comes to just over 1 penny per American per year.

    We have proudly served you to ensure that whales, manatees, dolphins, seals, sea otters, and other marine mammals survive for generations of Americans to come. In the past two Federal Employee Surveys, the Commission ranked number one in the U.S. government for overall employee engagement and satisfaction, showcasing the level of commitment and motivation of its staff. Despite facing possible elimination of the agency and loss of employment, employees of the Commission remain committed to you and the marine life that has kept us in collective awe for centuries.

    The proposed elimination of the Commission comes at a time when decades of marine stewardship are achieving success because of a strong American environmental ethic that balances economic needs with the conservation of our natural resources. We are loyal to our Congressional mandate to responsibly manage and protect marine mammals and their ecosystems, which are vital to our economy, prosperity, and future.


    Daryl J. Boness, Ph.D.

    Chairman, Marine Mammal Commission

    We work to ensure that marine mammal populations are restored and maintained as functioning elements of healthy marine ecosystems in the world's oceans.
  3. Sabal Trail Breaking News: Court Denies Request from Pipeline Backers and Federal Agency on Fracked Gas Pipeline


    ICYMI: Court Denies Request from Pipeline Backers and Federal Agency on Fracked Gas Pipeline

    Sabal Trail Pipeline Should be Shut Down
    Thursday, February 1, 2018
    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Late yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a request from pipeline builders and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take another look at the consequences of a case that established downstream greenhouse gas emissions as a crucial component of analyzing the impacts of gas pipelines. The landmark decision from last year forced FERC to consider the future environmental effects of burning gas transported by a pipeline when deciding whether or not to approve construction of the pipeline. Yesterday’s ruling means that the Sabal Trail Pipeline should cease operations until a thorough and complete review of its overall impact is completed.
    In response, Sierra Club Staff Attorney Elly Benson released the following statement:
    "The D.C. Circuit's orders confirm what we already knew: when a fracked gas pipeline has been constructed without its threats being fully considered, the pipeline should not be allowed to continue operating. Sabal Trail has run out of excuses. The court already rejected FERC's failure to consider the greenhouse gas pollution from burning the gas transported by the pipeline. It's time this dirty, unnecessary pipeline is shut down unless and until FERC conducts a comprehensive review of its climate impacts."
    About the Sierra Club
    The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
  4. Do it again. Stop P95! Two votes tomorrow on anti-Home Rule proposal, Friday, Feb. 2

    Last week, we asked for emails and calls to stop P95 - the anti-Home Rule Preemption Proposal. You delivered!
    The item was tabled...but it was put back on the Friday, Feb. 2 agendas for two committees -- one at 9 a.m. and the other at 12:30 p.m.!
    We need you to email again, (but this time we'll make it easier.)
    Email list(copy and paste):
    Erika.Donalds@flcrc.gov, Chris.Nocco@flcrc.gov, Emery.Gainey@flcrc.gov, Bob.Solari@flcrc.gov, John.Stemberger@flcrc.gov, Carolyn.Timmann@flcrc.gov, Nicole.Washington@flcrc.gov, Jose.Diaz@flcrc.gov, Belinda.Keiser@flcrc.gov, Jose.Armas@flcrc.gov, Lisa.Carlton@flcrc.gov, Patricia.Levesque@flcrc.gov, Darryl.Rouson@flcrc.gov
    Sample subject line (feel free to write your own):
    Vote No on P95 -- No to Preemption. Yes to Home Rule.
    Sample message(feel free to write your own):
    Please vote No on P95. It's an attack on local government. This controversial proposal would hand polluters a Get-out-of-Regulation Free card that would have appalling consequences for the environment and other issues. Under Home rule, Floridians have input on policies that affect their lives. Let's keep it that way. Vote No on P95.
    Again, email us after you've taken action, so we can keep a tally to: jonathan.ullman@sierraclub.org We'll let you know what happens.
  5. Sierra Club hosts 33rd Annual Everglades Coalition Conference focusing on inclusion, equity, and sending water south

    Everglades Coalition Conference brings 
    new voices to the table
    The 33rd Annual conference, hosted by Sierra Club, focused on inclusion,
    equity and sending water south

    Carl Hiaasen, Bill Nelson and Bob Graham topped some of the big names at the Everglades Coalition conference this year in Stuart, but the real showstoppers were people you may not heard of. Activists like Kina Phillips, Betty Osceola, Steve Messam and Antonio Tovar. They are bringing a long-underrepresented voice to the Everglades movement. They are Glades residents, indigenous tribe members, and farmworkers; those who fight air and water pollution daily.

    Belle Glade sugar field burning
    activists with Susana Reyes
    More than 300 people attended the conference, hosted by the Sierra Club, which brought together scientists, policy makers and the public.

    Sierra Club National Board of Directors Vice President Susana Reyes, from California, spoke about the Club's plans to take on the Trump Administration and increase the diversity of the environmental movement.

    The conference was a showcase for the Sierra Club, its volunteers and staff and its Florida campaigns. Sierra Club's Our Wild America Florida staff manager Cris Costello moderated the panel on diversity, inclusion and equity featuring speakers from Belle Glade, Glades County and the Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes. Costello began by saying "This session represents what we hope is the beginning of a dialogue with the front line communities, those most directly affected by the hardships associated with an un-restored Everglades, in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area."  The intent was to provide each of the panelists the opportunity to introduce their tribe or community to the conference attendees, and thereby start not only a conversation but also the building of  relationships. 

    Dr. William Louda discusses health impacts of
    Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
    A separate panel on Saturday morning was focused on the environmental justice campaign to end pre-harvest sugar field burning, which disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). The panel covered the following topics: scope of preharvest sugar field burning in Florida and the many benefits of green harvesting the alternative to pre-harvest burning  (Sierra Club organizing representative Patrick Ferguson), the science documenting the negative impacts pre-harvest burning causes to both public and environmental health, (Dr. William Louda, Professor at FAU) how pre-harvest sugar field burning negatively impacts the quality of life for Glades community residents along with the importance of using one’s voice to speak out against injustice, (Kina Phillips Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign Leader) and the health issues affecting migrant farm workers from industrial farming practices similar to pre-harvest sugar field burning along with the intimidation they receive which prevents them from publicly speaking out (Antonio Tovar Farmworkers Association). 
    This year's conference cover.

    The coalition also featured elected officials. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) and Brian Mast (R-Stuart) spoke to the Friday dinner audience, showing bipartisan support for the River of Grass. Senate President Joe Negron, who won an award for his legislation to build a reservoir in former sugar fields, also spoke.

    The Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir was a major topic at the Conference. It's an industrial-scale, high walled version of what is needed to send water south to the Everglades. Everglades advocates are not happy about the reservoir's design, and right before the conference they approved a letter to the Governor (click here.) asking him to consider other better options to provide the needed clean water.

    A large number of people came from the Stuart area, ground zero for guacamole-thick algae. The River Warriors and Bullsugar.org, groups dedicated to eliminating polluting water from Lake Okeechobee and storing and cleaning it south of Lake Okeechobee before it reaches the Everglades, were in full force.

    Award winner Betty Osceola with Sierra Club
    Everglades Organizer Diana Umpierre
    Betty Osceola, a member of the Miccosukee Tribe and a long-time water quality activist, won the John V. Kabler Grassroots Organizing Award. Her most recent victory was leading the effort to stop the River of Grass Greenway, a 76-mile long, 14-ft wide paved pathway that would have destroyed wetlands and other critical habitat from Naples to Miami

    Senator Bob Graham, who helped convene the very first Everglades Coalition conference, said deep well injection is "a very bad idea."

    Senator Bill Nelson held the line on offshore oil drilling and educated people on the Everglades.

    Author Carl Hiaasen railed against the legislature, Rick Scott and Donald Trump. He also encouraged Everglades advocates to keep up the fight.

    Best-selling author and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen with
    Sierra Club National Board of Directors Vice President Susana Reyes
    Sierra Club Florida Chair Mark Walters and Director Frank Jackalone

    Senator Bill Nelson with Sierra Club Florida
    Board member Alyssa Cadwalader

    U.S. Representative and former Governor Charlie Crist

    Belle Glade activist Kina Phillips and Sierra Club Florida
    Co-Conservation Chair Darryl Rutz

    Governor Bob Graham with Miami Group Excom member Linda Benson and
    Florida Sierra Club Excom  member Stephen Mahoney
    Photo by Kathy Teas.

    Betty Osceola and Stan Pannaman

    Kina Phillips and Antonio Tovar

    Senator Bill Nelson and Sierra Club Beyond Coal Organizer Gonzalo Valdez
    Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Messam
    and Kina Phillips

    Sierra Club volunteers and staff