Posts filed under ‘southeast’

Florida is Power Shifting Away from Nukes and Drilling!

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 contact@psc.state.fl.us 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!

Mandy Hancock
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network

mandy@climateaction.net

October 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

Florida Youth Say “YES” to Green Jobs, Solar Energy, and Campus Efficiency!

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!

Oh, YES to solar in the Sunshine State! NOOOO Nukes!

Oh, YES to solar in the Sunshine State! NO Nukes!

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!

Be sure to stay tuned for more exciting news from Florida! Don’t miss out, make sure you register for Florida Power Shift today!

Rachel Walsh (Florida State) and Alicia (Florida A & M) Say No Nukes, Go Solar!

Rachel Walsh (Florida State) and Alicia (Florida A & M) Say No Nukes, Go Solar!

September 30, 2009 at 5:53 pm 3 comments

Van Jones says: Don’t Cry for Me, Argen(vironmental movemen)tina.

It’s heartbreaking but true: Van Jones, our beloved beacon of green-collar hope and environmental justice for all, has left the building. After enduring attacks from Fox News personality, Glenn Beck, who spinned a couple tame activities into ghosts of Jones’ activist past—I’m sorry, but who DIDN’T sign a 9/11 conspiracy petition, and really, who cares?—he has stepped down from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Some say it’s our fault. According to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, the environmental movement didn’t take the threat of these allegations seriously enough, mobilize fast enough and back Van Jones up enough to prevent the end of his White House career.

Others say it’s a blessing in disguise. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post half facetiously thanked Glenn Beck in a recent article for his smear campaign against Jones, asserting that his resignation will put his skills and talents to better use: out of the government and back in the movement.

What does Van Jones have to say about all this? He asks us not to stand with him, but to stand with the environmental movement as a whole. “I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.’ But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.” You can read the full article here.

I personally have mixed emotions about Jones’ resignation. Yes, we need to focus on the big picture but could he have done so more effectively by staying put? And did he really quit or was he asked to leave by the administration? Can he realistically return as the face of Green Jobs or is his name tainted? What are we gonna do now?

Ultimately, however, what Jones’ or any figurehead of our movement did or did not do is in the past and out of our control. Whatever attacks the anti-progressive peanut gallery pull out of their hats is also out of our control and not bound to stop anytime soon. We can rest assured that Glenn Beck and his posse of ignorance and greed have a whole artillery of tricks up their sleeves and are waiting just around the corner to hit us with a another curve ball at any moment. They’ve commandeered healthcare and now they’re coming for the green-collar movement.

We can’t ignore rightwing media, but we also can’t let some fringe element hijack our movement. And we won’t—not  in our name and not in the name of our leaders.

It’s not our job to let thoughts of worry and anger flood our pretty little heads. It’s our job to organize. If nothing else, this is a reminder that we need to stand together in solidarity.

We can start by following Van Jones’ example. Almost every person in the environmental justice movement has a story about how his words and actions have inspired them whether it was in an audience of twelve thousand peers listening to one of his many moving speeches or even a one-on-one interaction. Our executive director, Stephanie Powell, for example, had the privilege of chatting with him back in 2007 at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference. Van overheard that she was working in the Gulf Coast post hurricane Katrina and sought her out to ask her more about her work and thank her for what she was doing.

The Van we know is a very busy man who always takes the time to care and be supportive of another organizer. It’s critical that we remember to do the same no matter how our schedules fill up. He’s not just a figurehead, he’s a person. We need to show the same compassion and not just support him but support others in the movement.

The best way to show this support is to call for real action on global warming. It’s time for a wake-up call.  On September 21, people all over the country are getting together in public places everywhere for “wake-up call” flash-mob events, pressing our Senators to take action on clean energy jobs & climate! Click here to get involved!

September 15, 2009 at 7:28 pm Leave a comment

UCF Makes the Trek to Tallahassee to Say NO to Nuclear in Florida

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

UCF is Serious About Not Paying for Risky Nuclear

UCF is Serious About Not Paying for Risky Nuclear

Check out Jessica Burris on Bay 9 News!

September 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm 6 comments

They say FACES. We say farces.

this does not equal this

Gone are the days when environmentalists had only to worry about the dirty energy lobby taking our politicians on luxury cruises or using “greenwashing” to trick consumers into believing that products are environmentally friendly. No, the bad guys can’t just stop at buying out our politicians and our message, they have to hijack our tactics too. Exit grassroots. Enter “Astroturf,” a PR ploy disguised as a spontaneous grassroots effort. It may not be a new tool, but it seems to be all the rage right now. Suffice to say, things are getting dirty, as if Big Coal and Big Oil  weren’t dirty enough already.

To kick off their efforts to perpetuate the petroleum industry in response to new climate legislation coming from Congress, a group called Energy Citizen held a rally in Houston to fight back. Or did they? Says Climate Progress: “Despite signs and T-shirts, the Houston rally of more than 3,000 people – which was sponsored by a group calling itself Energy Citizens — actually had a boatload of funding and logistical support from the oil and gas industry, according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) memo leaked late last week by the environmental group Greenpeace.” Click here for the full article.

The coal industry has chimed in with their own citizen front group as well: the  Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security  or FACES.  My question: who exactly are these people anyway? Grist tried to find out, but upon emailing the only contact on FACES’ website, which listed no funders or members of the group, their inquiry bounced back. You can check out the full article here.

As a grassroots organizer, I have always taken comfort in the idea that there are two major forms of power: money and people. The bad guys might have the former, but when we come together, we’ve got the latter. My question: how do we keep it this way? Watch what real activists did in North Carolina.

– Rebecca Van Damm

August 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm 1 comment

July 28: Take Action Against Coal in Georgia

Aerial image of the Harlee Branch Plant in Milledgeville, GA.

Aerial image Plant Branch, located in Milledgeville, GA.

There’s finally a glimmer of hope in the quest to restructure energy sources in the Southeast. More than a year after a judge ruled to halt the construction of the Longleaf coal plant in south Georgia, an appeals court has upheld her the decision that the plant’s excessive emissions is a hazard to the health and safety of Georgia citizens.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore wrote in her initial decision (from July of 2008) that “the plant as permitted [by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources] would annually emit large amounts of air pollutants, including eight [million] to nine million tons of carbon dioxide…[and] since CO2 is ‘otherwise subject to regulation under the [Clean Air] Act,’ a PSD [prevention of significant deterioration] permit cannot issue for Longleaf without CO2 emission limitations.”

As noted by David Biello of Scientific American magazine, this is the first time that excessive CO2 emissions have been cited as a deciding factor in denying a permit for coal plant construction. If nothing else, this decision means that environmental concerns are moving up the governmental ladder and into our courts where precedents will be set that lay the groundwork for a sustainable national future.

Rather than denying the permit altogether, though, the appellate decision  has ordered a case review that will require the Longleaf construction proposal to contain stricter emissions targets and more environmentally-sound technology. By questioning the validity of the permit and ordering a further case review, Georgians now have an opportunity to build strong opposition to the Longleaf plant construction. The anti-coal movement is already strong – with hundreds of Georgians and several organizations already on board – but now that we’ve got more time, we can mobilize our voices and share our knowledge.

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28, at 6pm at Early County High School. At this hearing, members of the local and regional community will offer their opinions about the plant and its effect on the environment. Administrators will be present, public officials will be present, but most importantly, Georgia citizens must be present to express what they know about coal and its negative health and environmental effects.

What we know is this – that coal is by far one of the most environmentally-destructive resources available. Coal mining alters our planet’s landscape, transporting the coal to plants uses a tremendous amount of gas, and the process of burning coal produces millions of tons of CO2 emissions in our region alone. There are already more than one hundred plants in the Southeast and rather than constructing new plants, we need to be spending our money investing in safe, sustainable alternatives to coal-fired power plants.

Let’s attend this hearing and spread the word about wind, solar, hydrokinetic, and geothermal energy. (links to fact sheets that I’m more than happy to prepare.) We need to use this opportunity as a vehicle to unite our voices and fight against dirty coal. Clean energy is the future and it is imperative that we share this sentiment with our friends, families, and communities.

So come to the hearing and say your piece. Invite friends, relatives, and neighbors and encourage them to join the fight for clean energy and a safe, sustainable future.

July 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm 1 comment

From Florida to France, New Nuclear Shouldn’t Have a Chance!

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 mandy@climateaction.net for more information.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Institute for Environmental and Energy Research

June 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm 1 comment

Preparing for a Summer of Action

Now that classes are over, exams are done, and grades are in, I – along with millions of other students across the U.S. – have finally begun to prepare for what will undoubtedly be an incredibly exciting summer. I’ll certainly be keeping busy with classes, work, and plenty of travel plans, but, to be completely honest, I’m excited about much more than beach trips, concerts, and spending time with my friends and family.

In recent years, climate and energy issues have gained considerable media momentum and have garnered the attention of politicians across the country. President Obama has spoken about the issue and people across the planet are beginning to take serious notice. As both a young person and someone who cares deeply about these issues, I have decided to spend my summer working with other young people to push for bold change in current U.S. climate policies. This is an incredibly exciting time for the U.S. and given what’s going on in D.C., this summer is the time for change.

Perhaps one of the most exciting events of the summer is California Rep. Henry Waxman’s climate bill, which was proposed earlier this spring. The bill, formally titled the American Clean Energy and Securities Act of 2009, is currently in the hands of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where it is being revised and edited. In its current state, the bill seeks to define “clean energy” and regulate it on the national level, plans to enforce a cap on carbon emissions, and promises to enact new efficiency standards for the transportation, construction, and energy industries. If anything, the introduction of this bill shows that our elected officials are beginning to realize that the demand for drastic change cannot be met with legislative inaction.

All said, aspects of the bill absolutely must be stronger and we, as advocates for a safer, healthier future, need to speak loudly and let our demands be known. We need a bill with renewable energy targets that mirror the numbers suggested by scientific research, we need a bill that does not give pollution handouts to dirty energy corporations, and we need a bill that will provide the appropriate funding and resources to fully support a nationwide transition to a clean energy future.

Our future is at stake and as both young people and environmental advocates, it’s our job to demand a strong bill that is hopeful and promises to make deep, lasting changes. It’s up to us to inspire our elected officials and although it won’t be an easy job, it’s certainly not impossible.

First, it’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable for their part in the construction and movement of this bill. We need to contact our congressmen (by phone, e-mail, mail, fax, etc.) and demand that they request changes that reflect the interests of their constituents. We elected them, we are trusting them with a huge responsibility. It’s imperative that we tell them what we need and let them know that we’re paying attention.

We also need to raise public awareness by telling our stories. We can write letters to the editor, opinion editorials, blog posts, facebook posts, twitter feeds. Further, it’s critical that we speak about this issue whenever possible. Tell your friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and neighbors about the bill and explain what they can do to help. Let them know that they, too, can write a Letter to the Editor or phone their congressman. It may sound surprising, but one well-written editorial makes a difference, just the same as one vote can make a difference.

The key to inspiring change is a combination of awareness and action; we need to be knowledgeable of the federal goings-on while also encouraging our communities, universities, and local governments to fight for bold national change. It’s a tough job, but we proved ourselves with Power Vote and Power Shift. As young people, students, and individuals who care deeply about our country’s future, we create a strong, unified voice and we have all the ambition, intelligence, and creativity necessary to inspire change. Let’s talk about this bill, let’s write about this bill, and let’s prove that we’ve got a mission and a purpose. Now is the time to demand bold action and even bolder change and though the summer may be short, now is the time to make it happen.

Brittany Forrestal

Communications Fellow

May 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Florida Green Fee: Legislation Fizzled, But Campus Campaigns Still Sizzle!

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 mandy@climateaction.net

May 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

FL YOUTH DEMAND TO BE HEARD! “Give us the Green Fee!!”

Many of you know that students in the University System of Florida have been rocking the Green Fee campaign all over! In fact, 10 out of the 11 universities in the state system are actively planning and campaigning to get the Fee on their campus. 5 schools have already passed student referenda in support of the Fee. This year, they took it to the state, working with Senator Lee Constantine to present the Fee in the form of and amendment to Senate Bill 1996. Following the Bill to the floor, students from 5 universities attended the original committee meeting, where it passed 3 to 1 with one absent. They were again present at the next committee meeting where the bill passed unanimously.

Late last night, we got the word that the Renewable Energy Fund amendment, along with Florida Senate Bill 1996 was stalling at the Higher Education Appropriations Committee. This committee is chaired by Senator Evelyn Lynn, who opposes the fee, which would allow schools that have approved the fee to implement it. It is not mandatory. The students are asking for it. It is their money!

If it passed, it would allow University of Florida to implement a mere 50 cent per credit hour fee, which would generate nearly $800,000 to be used to increase efficiency and invest in renewable energy. New College of Florida would also be able to implement the $1 per credit hour fee that their students and administration approved, which is the maximum that would be allowed under the legislation.

Please take time to show your support of the Green Fee in Florida! Send the email below, or your version of it, ask your friends to do the same! Help us make it viral! Link this in your Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere!

For more info on the history of this campaign, check out the Florida Green Fee Coalition.

Questions? mandy@climateaction.net

Dear Senator Lynn,

I, _______________________________, am a student strongly in support of the Green Fee currently being proposed for public universities across the state of Florida. Myself, as well as students at five other public universities within Florida, voted in support of referendums on our campuses dealing with funding for the Green Fee. Along with student backing from the remaining Florida institutions, the campaign has grown to all the public universities in the state over the past 2 years. The Florida Student Association has also endorsed the passage of this legislation. Students are not only willing, but eager to contribute financially to sustainability efforts on their own respective campuses.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, supporting SB 1996 would be an incredible effort in the fight against global climate change. With your support and this groundbreaking legislation, Florida will have the opportunity to be a leader in sustainability efforts on campuses across the country. Please support the concerns of university students in Florida by making every effort to see that the Green Fee becomes a reality.

Sincerely,
[name]

April 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

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