2009: Year of the Green Fee
After saying goodbye to 2008, the Florida Green Fee Coalition set dead aim on 2009 with big plans for the state legislature. A student created bill went through the legislative drafting process and is poised to be used in the upcoming March legislature session. With the bill in hand, students have been contacting their state leaders and putting the Green Fee on the political map.
On Friday January 16th students are traveling to Fort Meyers to give a presentation and solicit support from the Florida Student Association (FSA), a group consisting of the student government presidents and staff from the Florida universities.
With the March legislative session readily approaching, the coalition is trying to find sponsorship within the state senate and house. Students have contacted key state members throughout the course of the campaign, and a breakthrough is hopeful.
Currently, in a special session, the legislature is making decisions that will likely cut funding to many educational budgets across the state. Now more than ever the coalition is pushing for the green fee, not only so sustainability can remain economically viable on college campuses, but also to show that students care enough of about these issues to put their money where their mouth is. Look for more exciting information in the coming weeks.
Florida Green Fee humble beginnings
The campaign for a statewide green fee has been underway for over 2 years. Students at the University of Florida got together in the fall of 2006 with the desire to create a more environmentally friendly UF. The student group Gators for a Sustainable Campus promoted and worked hard to gauge student support for a green fee on their campus, culminating in a victory in the spring 2007 student government election. UF students supported the creation of a green fee with 78% of the vote.
In the proceeding months, other schools from around the state began to start similar campaigns on their college campuses, and the Florida Green Fee Coalition was formed. Coming together for a common goal and putting aside usual intra-state school rivalry, students worked tirelessly to advance the cause. And in the spring of 2008, the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, and New College of Florida all passed referendum with 67%, 70%, and 80% respectively. More schools joined the campaign, with new programs set up at USF, FAU, and UWF.
Emboldened by the successes at Florida campuses, the coalition moved the campaign to the state level. Campus leaders along with Southern Energy Network organizers met in Miami in October of 2008 to discuss strategy and tactics in the coming months. With the holiday season fast approaching, students took a much-needed break but were looking forward to move full speed ahead in the New Year.
Blog Submitted By: Zak Keith, Florida Green Fee Coordinator
Friday, November 14, 2008
GreenPeace amd RAN called for campuses across the country to hold a Coal Day of Action. The Eco Advocate’s of Central Florida at UCF responded.
On Friday, around 11am, we suited up for a theatrical display. Three of us laid on the ground, in a “die-in” fashion, all bloody and dirtied up with signs propped against our lifeless bodies that gave facts regarding coal mining and it’s effect on health and the environment. The rest of us were manned with flyers explaining the truth behind clean coal. Awareness was spread on companies that finance the coal industry and a petition was passed around asking Bank of America, a bank with ATMs and a branch on UCF property, to discontinue financing the coal industry. Our wonderful Coal Representative, “Coal B. Stinky”, informed people of the “wonders” of clean coal and how clean it really was. She offered coal (which was really charcoal) to passers-by and some were actually taking it!
We had a great time with this action. We passed out over 650 flyers and sparked up some very interesting conversation with those in need of more knowledge on the subject. Some opposing minds began to change and question the reality of clean coal after our demonstration. At the end of the action, we all headed to the Reflection Pond, in front of Millican Hall, the building that houses our high-level administration. We took a group picture with a banner that read “Coal is NEVER Clean” and sent it, along with our petition of over 60 signatures, to Bank of America.
Submitted by Kady Brotherton, UCF Eco-Advocate and Student
When the Eco-Advocates at the University of Central Florida heard that our school would be hosting the “Campus and Community Sustainability Conference”, we were ecstatic. Unfortunately, shortly after this wonderful news, we were informed that Progress Energy would be presenting the event. We knew immediately that we had to do something. Progress Energy has been involved in the nuclear energy “green-washing” campaign for some time.
With a new Energy Bill slated to be signed by Florida’s Governor Crist, grassroots organizations from all over the state came together this week to sign a letter urging Governor Crist to take a stance against nuclear energy. Currently, nuclear is being hailed as the answer to Florida’s energy needs since there is a moratorium on new coal plants in the state. However, the folks in Florida see it as a false solution with serious side effects that would be detrimental to the economy, environment, and security of this state and well beyond. (**Consider this: Nuclear Power + Hurricanes…this can NOT be good!)
I was so excited to see, a mere 24 hours after the letter went circulating around the network, there were nearly 20 organizations signed on. Some of the organizations to step up and use their voice to express their concerns to the Governor are: Florida League of Conservation Voters, Florida Consumer Action Network, Greenpeace, Southern Energy Network, Nuclear Information Resource Service, Save It Now Glades!, Nuclear Watch South, We the People, chapters of the Sierra Club, Faiths United for Sustainable Energy, among several other local groups. Although this letter will be submitted to Crist this week, efforts will continue to build a larger, stronger coalition to fight nuclear and pressure Crist to take decisive action against the expansion of this toxic energy source.
So, watch out Florida! There is a new campaign in town, and an organized group of folks from all over the state are coming together to fight against false solutions like nuclear while fighting for green jobs and renewable energies!!
To be added to the No Nuke Florida mailing list, please contact:
FL Campus Coordinator, SEN