Posts filed under ‘florida’
Southern Energy Network joins with group of organizations in condemning Florida voter suppression bill
Students working with the Southern Energy Network registered over 2,000 young voters in Florida in 2010 – and our ability to register voters in future FL elections is under attack. SB 2086, due to be voted on today in the Florida State Senate, would limit student voting in a number of ways, including:
- Preventing students from being able to change their address at the polls;
- Reducing the early voting period; and,
- Introducing new and difficult regulations for any group working to register voters.
This bill will have a direct impact on our ability to register voters in Florida in the 2012 elections and into the future, as well as our ability to effectively turn out students to vote. This in an unacceptable and dramatic attack on the ability of young people to vote.
UPDATE: The Florida Senate passed the bill 25-13. The bill will now go back to the House, which passed a different version.
<cross-posted on It’s Getting Hot in Here>
They said it was safe. BP’s environmental impact statement from February 2009 stated that it was, “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities”, and that “due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected .” Now, millions of gallons of oil have dumped into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20thand more continues to poor into the waters every day. Yesterday President Obama visited Louisiana to assess the threat posed by this growing oil spill .
The Earth is now bleeding. Unfortunately a run to the pharmacy wont supply the Band Aids needed for this injury. Five thousand feet under the sea a pipe is spilling unknown volumes of oil straight into the Gulf. Attempts to recap it have been unsuccessful. Stopping the spill now looks like it could take weeks if not months, as a giant dome is developed to capture the oil and a “relief” well is drilled .
Oil has already covered over 3,800 square miles of ocean . At risk are the fragile ecosystems of birds that are just beginning to build nests and mate, fish, shellfish, and countless threatened species are found in and around the ten wildlife preserves that are likely to fall in the path of the oil spills as it continues to disperse . The economic impacts of this spill will spread far as fisherman who weathered Hurricane Katrina are seeing Gulf fisheries shut down that are America’s biggest source of seafood.
They are lighting the Gulf on fire. Burning the fuel off is one of many efforts being used to contain the spill. Rough seas for the past few days however, have stymied many efforts at burning the oil off and sending it into the atmosphere. Already 34 miles of boom have also been deployed to form a skirt around a small part of the Gulf Coast to protect the shore from oil. Dispersal agents are another method being used, though in untested ways as they are released in unprecedented volumes both underwater and above.
Dirty energy is jeopardizing human survival. This incident has cost 11 lives and comes in the wake of several other fossil fuels related disasters in the past month including, the methane explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, the collapse of a mine in Kentucky that killed 2, and the wreck of a coal carrying ship that spilled oil across the Great Barrier Reef .
People hold the solutions. Hair salons with the organization, Matter of Trust are beginning to collect hair clipping, that can be made into mat to soak up oil . People are submitting ideas for ways to clean up oil spills that can be readily implemented to the website InnoCentive . Fishermen are signing up to lend their boats and time to the clean up effort as the oil begins to come ashore. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Sierra Club and a number of other organizations are calling on people everywhere to call the White House and their Congressmen to put an end to offshore drilling, fossil fuel subsidies, and move to clean energy options . If we don’t move away from our dependence on fossil fuels these accidents will continue to occur.
Let’s stop being fuelish and get to work building a clean energy future.
 Burdeau, Cain; Holbrook Mohr (2010-04-30). “Document: BP didn’t plan for major oil spill”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-04-30. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5gnWbqZ9SqBHvSYqJeE2AT5KebwD9FDNQR00
 BP (2010-04-30). “BP Steps Up Shoreline Protection Plans on US Gulf Coas”. Press release. Retrieved 2010-04-30. http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7061565
 “Gulf Oil Spill, by the Numbers”. CBS News. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-04-30. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/30/national/main6447428.shtml
Growing up in Florida, I probably spent 75% of my childhood in and around water. Be it swimming in clear cool springs, fishing along black bottom creeks, playing in the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean or just running through the sprinkler in the backyard, water played a huge role in my childhood.
I didn’t really think much about water beyond how fun it was to go to Kingsley Lake or tube down the Ichetucknee River. As I got older, I became more aware of the impacts we have on our local waterways and how much our lives depend on them -not just for staying cool in the summer time, but for our overall survival and livelihood.
It wasn’t until my family moved to Georgia when I was in middle school that I realized the threats facing Southern water resources. As I have grown older, I’ve become increasingly aware of how important, yet fragile our waters truly are. I remember all too well driving back home for a visit in the summer of 2007 (I was living and working in New Orleans at the time). It was surreal to see the impacts of the drought – to witness what were once floating dock sitting on the mud flats of a shrinking Lake Lanier. That same summer, the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama had to be temporarily shut down because water in the Tennessee River was too hot to cool the reactors. And then in the fall the University of Georgia had official “flushers” in bathrooms at football games in order conserve limited water supplies in Athens.
Today, on World Water Day, it’s important to look at the full impacts dirty energy and global warming have on our lives. Across the world and particularly here in the South, global warming is shifting rain patterns and temperatures. Creating an interesting mix of increased rain (except in South Florida) as well as prolonged and more severe droughts.
Not only is our region one of the largest contributors to the problem of global warming, our power is extremely water intensive. For example, here in Georgia the energy sector is the largest consumer of water statewide. It’s troubling to think that one day flipping on the lights could compete with turning on the faucet.
For the future of our region, it’s critical to begin the transition away from dirty, water intensive power sources and towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.
In celebration of World Water Day, take time to support the Define Our Decade campaign, and vote for a clean, renewable, water-responsible energy future.
Earlier this month, Florida Power and Light (FPL) was denied the $1.3 Billion rate increase they requested last fall, only getting $75 million. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously ruled against the huge increase, citing a struggling economy and questioning FPL’s exorbitant corporate spending habits and high profit margins.
This week, the Public Service Commission ruled once again to serve the public, rejecting Progress Energy’s $500 million rate increase. Both utilities were also forced to reduce their profit margins a couple percentage points.
With much of the rate increase slated to fund the utilities’ proposals to build a total of four new nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point plant and in Levy County, many citizens are taking action. Engaging the PSC since last October, thousands commented on Early Cost Recovery and nuclear. Their message is simple, “Don’t nuke Florida, we need solar in the Sunshine State!”
Public opposition is mounting against increasing rates and forced consumer investment into projects that are financially risky and literally create tons of radioactive waste. The AARP and numerous environmental groups have building grassroots pressure on the Public Service Commission, urging them to protect the customers pocket and the environment.
FPL and Progress Energy now say that they will be “suspending” their risky nuclear plans . Because their main funding mechanism was Early Cost Recovery, the utilities claim they need the rate increases to attain capital investment from their consumers. Check here for an interesting analysis of how the utilities are crying wolf about job losses when their true interest is protecting their sharholders.
Although the PSC decisions are good news, the utilities are still pursuing permitting for the new reactors, which is an extremely expensive process. Utility executives are also claiming huge lay-offs will follow the decision to deny the rate increases. This is questionable, to say the least. Even Governor Crist, a supporter of nuclear who opposed the rate increases, thinks the utilities misleading the public about jobs. You can read his statement here.
Stay tuned for more exciting updates as the nuclear fiasco continues to unfold in Florida. Folks in communities and on campuses all over Florida are taking on the nuclear industry in 2010!
Teaming up with the Guacamole Fund, Southern Energy Network had the awesome opportunity to promote its our anti-nuclear work in Florida, raise some money, and hang out with Bonnie Raitt. And what a great night it was!
SEN’s Field Director, Stephanie Powell and I worked with 3 amazing volunteers from University of West Florida to inform fans about the nuclear issues currently facing Florida. We encountered tons of folks who were already engaged on the issues and a few more that were in process of going off the grid with solar power installations at their homes. During the show, we took turns going in to enjoy the music. Personally, watching Bonnie perform was quite an experience! Her music has been in my life since I was pretty young, and seeing it live was phenomenal.
Bonnie Raitt, along with a number of other artists, founded a group called Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) that opposes nuclear power in favor of safer, renewable options like solar. To help the cause, they build fundraising into their ticket sales, giving fans the choice to purchase special V.I.P. tickets. At this Pensacola show, there was a small dessert reception afterward. Bonnie was so careful to spend a few moments with each of the folks there, chatting with them and taking a photo. At the end of it all, we had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with her as well. She is such a genuine person and was very knowledgeable about the complex intricacies of nuclear power, as well as the details of Florida’s specific challenges in the face of this risky industry. It’s great to have folks with such public access on our side, spreading real information to folks about issues that affect us all!
Now, more than ever, Floridians need to stand up and show we are ready to usher in a brighter energy future. An energy future that is just and safe for all and uses truly renewable sources. An energy future that neither relies on fossil fuels nor creates a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. Want solar in the Sunshine State? Florida needs a POWER SHIFT!
Right now, Washington is leading us in the wrong direction. Check out what Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have to say in their NY Times Op Ed yesterday.
The emphasis Kerry and Graham place on expensive risky nuclear, the mythical ”clean coal,” and coastal drilling leaves Florida wondering when the sun will shine on our economy? The United States as a whole needs bold action to protect our climate and secure our energy. Drilling does neither–instead it maintains our dependence on dirty oil, and it does little to reduce our need for foreign oil. Nuclear is the ‘thirstiest‘ energy out there, requiring millions of gallons of water per day. These technologies do not bring the jobs we need, but renewables will!
Florida has a lot to lose in the face climate change, but so much to gain from real solutions. We need solutions that are safe, clean, renewable, and create jobs! Join hundreds of other engaged and passionate young people as we demand a Power Shift in Orlando, FL Oct 23-25 at University of Central Florida campus Arena.
Have 15 minutes? Here are 2 things you can do Right Now:
Attend Florida Power Shift! We were 6,000 strong in DC back in 2007. In March of this year, we doubled that number and really showed our legislators that young people in our country are serious about climate change and are here to support strong action toward real solutions. Now, we are bringing it home to Florida to demand safe and renewable energy. Don’t miss the early Registration Friday 10/16!
Contact the Florida Public Service Commission and tell them you won’t pay for their nuclear reactors! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and Reference Docket # 090009. Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to charge you now for reactors that may never be built. Please contact them today! Need talking points? Check this out.
Please contact me with any questions!
Hope to see you next weekend in Orlando!
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network
This past weekend at University of Florida, over 70 young people from 9 universities across the state joined forces with Southern Energy Network at the Florida Youth Energy Sustainability (YES) Summit. It was an action packed day and a half of workshops and strategizing sessions interspersed with great energy and fun!
The goals of the summit centered around building relationships, increasing communication, and strategizing upcoming campaigns. The Green Fee campaign got a make over. Students from several schools are creating a committee to escalate the campaign and develop a plan to take on the Florida legislature, this time for a win! The anti-nuclear campaign gained more steam and will be one of the networks primary campaigns this year with plans under way to increase pressure at the state and national levels.
Last, but certainly not least, we talked about the Power Shift campaign and how Florida is going to raise their voices to join the chorus of young people demanding bold climate legislation before United Nations Climate Negotiations in December. Florida is ready to have an awesome event in Orlando on October 24th, just in time for the 350.org International Day of Action. Our state has a lot to lose in the face of climate change and we are stepping up to the challenge!
UCF Students think families and local businesses shouldn’t have to pay for nuclear reactors, especially when there are safer renewables available that do not produce radioactive waste. So, at 4:30 a.m. this past Tuesday, they left Orlando to go to the Public Service Commission Early Cost Recovery hearing. The PSC heard expert testimonies all week to determine the prudence of Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light charging consumers to recoup capital costs for their proposed nuclear reactors.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Office of Public Council, and PCS Phosphate are all intervening in the case. Their witnesses testify that early cost recovery is not sensible and that the reactors aren’t even necessary. Peter Bradford, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of SACE’s expert witnesses, testified that our slumping economy is reducing the demand for electricity for the first time in decades. Citing rising costs for materials and an increasing shortage of laborers with the skills to complete these projects, he concludes that the risk the utilities are asking their consumers to bear is just too great. The PSC is scheduled to make its ruling October 26, 2009.
If you think the utilities should keep their hands out of your pockets with their risky investments, make your voice heard! Tell the PSC you do not what to fund Progress and Florida Power and Light’s risky business. Urge them to read the expert testimonies offered by Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen that cite hard evidence that the utilities cannot justify the request to raise rates for these projects nor can they ensure that ratepayers will get anything in return for their investment.
Here’s how: Use the info below to contact PSC and reference Docket #090009,:
• PSC Contact page: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/about/contact/
• Local Consumer Assistance Line: 1-850-413-6100
• Toll Free Consumer Assistance Line: 1-800-342-3552
• Toll Free Fax: 1-800-511-0809
Southern Energy Network represented at the Institute for Environmental Energy Research Carbon Free Nuclear Free workshop last week in Washington, DC. Jessica Burris, one of our interning volunteers, and I spent 5 days learning all sorts of technical information about nuclear energy. We covered a broad range of topics, everything from reprocessing and uranium enrichment to nuclear disarmament. We held strategy sessions to further the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign, and then we all had the opportunity to make a presentation to the panel of scientists that work at the Institute. We also heard from experts (from France even!) about why nuclear in France isn’t the love affair we understand it to be.
Jessica and I worked together on a presentation that begins the initial research phases of a larger project that will become her Master’s thesis. She is looking at the Environmental Justice implications of nuclear energy in Florida. Our initial findings were that the existing nuclear reactors in Florida, as well as the new reactor proposals, are all located in communities that have a combination of the following characteristics: well below the average median income for the state, majority minority, well over median age, and very high unemployment. Other characteristics of the areas in which these reactors exist or are proposed: high rates of asthma, high infant mortality, high cancer rates, high percentages of Spanish language homes, and low rates of high school or equivalency attainment. Although we had to revisit some of the science that supported our initial conclusions, our overarching and supported conclusion was that the communities that have nuclear reactors in their backyard are full of people that already have a lot of socio-economic factors to contend with in their daily survival, and that the additional burden on their health and environment is a serious environmental racism and justice issue.
If you are still undecided about nuclear energy, here are some things to consider:
**Nuclear reactors produce tons of spent fuel, which is high-level radioactive waste that is harmful to all life for over 10,000 years.
**There is currently no long-term storage for all of this waste.
**Nuclear reactors also produce tons of low-level waste that creates another “safe storage” problem.
**Nuclear reactors are VERY THRISTY. In a world with increasing water shortages, we need less water intensive alternatives.
**Nuclear energy is risky business. Wall Street won’t invest in it, why should you? Many states, including Florida, are passing the capital costs onto you with “Early Cost Recovery” and “Construction Work in Progress” rate-increases on your energy bill. See Regress Energy for more information on how this is playing out in Florida.
**Thermal discharge from reactors endangers surrounding marine eco-systems.
For more on the science behind this madness, check out www.ieer.org
The Southeast currently has 13 new nuclear reactor proposals. There are a number of local, state, regional, and national groups getting organized to keep these expensive, risky, water intensive, dangerous energy sources out of our communities. Here are some organizations that you can plug into to take action:
Southern Energy Network–We are looking to build a team of passionate youth to organize our region out of risky nuclear and into renewables! Contact email@example.com for more information.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Institute for Environmental and Energy Research
The Green Fee campaign in Florida has already seen so much activity this year! The statewide coalition of schools worked closely with Florida Senator Lee Constantine’s office to present a Renewable Energy Fund Bill in the Florida House and Senate. The bill would have provided the necessary legislation for universities in the state system to implement the Green Fee. Florida and Texas are two of the only states that require students to navigate the legislative process in their quest to create funds to increase sustainability on their campuses. For more info and a nice blog hit for the campaign, see this: New York Times Blog Hit for Florida Green Fee!
The legislation flew through the first two committees, and met strong adversity in the third Higher Education Appropriations Committee. This committee is chaired by Senator Evelyn Lynn, who refused to place it on the agenda, but admitted on the floor that her office had fielded “40 or more calls per day” in support of the Fee. She used our display of Green Fee support as a testament to her overall disapproval for raising student fees. Although this is commendable in the face of the economic challenges we currently face, many students feel they should be given the choice to invest in their energy future to support a green economy. Most would be paying less that $20 per year, and with the current maximum being set at $1 per credit hour, the most a student would pay is $30 per year. A minimal investment considering the current peril of our climate and energy security!
So, what now? Well, all of this excitement has stirred up new campus campaigns and reinvigorated old ones! We are going to have a meeting sometime around August to flesh the plans out, but it looks like we are going to redirect our energies back onto the campus campaigns. Having other campuses join University of Florida and New College as leading institutions advocating for the students will increase the pressure on the state legislature to give the students and their universities what they demand: A Green Fee to Support a Green Future in Florida!
For more information, check out: www.floridagreenfee.com
or, contact firstname.lastname@example.org