Dear Friends of Florida’s waters:
As you probably know already, the legislative session ended without the unbelievably bad water bills or the fracking bills passing. Thank goodness for the dysfunction between the House and Senate. The extreme agenda of the House leadership served the people of Florida well by not only sabotaging their own insane goals, but also by preventing the Senate’s less crazy but still not acceptable direction. Once more, thank you to everyone who made phone calls, sent emails and helped spread the word about these destructive bills. Without your pressure, the bills would have zipped through both houses and been a “done-deal” before the final days when Crisafulli had his melt-down and did us all a big favor by leaving town.
Now that we are all rested we can return our attention to other important matters. Here are a few that are on our immediate agenda:
1. Dredging through grass beds in Santa Rosa Sound – an application from Santa Rosa County Commissioners to dredge three channels through healthy grass beds (Thalassia testudinum and Halodule wrightii) predominantly Thalassia for the benefit of a few private canal-front homeowners in the Santa Rosa Shores subdivision. Many of you signed on to a letter in opposition to this activity, to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) about a year ago. They ACOE has not made a final decision. The new application is to the Florida DEP for actual design and to begin work. The application actually changed some by getting worse than the conceptual permit application. You may recall that FL-DEP has consistently told the applicants for this project for the past 20 years that this would never get permitted. Then, under Rick Scott, the DEP suddenly decided this will be fine and dandy. This could have dire consequences for other applications across the state where someone wants to dredge through grass beds – a practice that has been almost impossible until now.
Unless you tell me otherwise, I will put the names of everyone who signed the ACOE comment letter on to this letter as well. If you didn’t have a chance to sign on to that letter then please send me your name and city where you live and you will be added. The comment letters from last year and the new one are attached.
2. Fracking Florida – We can’t let any grass grow under our feet while the frackers get their ducks realigned for the next session of the legislature. The next move is to get resolutions from local governments for a fracking ban. There are people working on the bans all over the state so if you want to help, let me know or contact Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson at email@example.com and we will help you connect with your local organizers.
3. Buckeye pulp mill, now owned by the Koch brothers, is requesting an extension of their 25 year-old permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to build a pollution pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally they are wanting to remove the requirements in the permit related to water quality and submerged aquatic vegetation. Hah!!! I am working on a comment letter right now and will send it to you in a few days for sign-ons. WE NEED LOTS AND LOTS OF SIGNATURES, SO PLEASE SIGN WHEN I SEND THE DRAFT TO YOU!!!
If you go to this link here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/bigbend/pub/BBS_Map01.pdf
you will see a map of the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve in the very northeastern corner of the Gulf. What’s missing in this picture? A huge rectangle is cut out of the preserve and it happens to be located at the mouth of the Fenholloway River. This large area is excluded because it is a dead zone, caused by the Buckeye pulp mill, located 26 miles upstream at the headwaters of the Fenholloway. The mill dumps 40 to 50 million gallons per day of dioxin-contaminated waste into the Fenholloway which then finds its way to the Gulf.
Now the Koch brothers want to build a 15 mile pipeline straight from the mill to the mouth of the river where all that industrial waste, full of toxic chemicals and other pollutants will flow right into the Gulf. There will be no settling of the tons of solids upstream as there is now. There will be no dilution with springs and creeks as there is now.
We will be posting a comment letter soon and we hope that you will sign your self, your business and/or your organization onto our comments. The letter will offer details about the list of horribles that will come to the Big Bend if this pipeline is built. Please stay tuned and help us stop this assault on the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the amazing resources it holds.
Thank you in advance for helping with these issues in whatever way you are able. Your efforts to help protect and preserve Florida’s waters are making a difference. Just imagine what would happen if no one was sending emails, making phone calls, filing legal challenges, etc. Collectively we do amazing things but it takes all of us, so hang in there. Your efforts are very appreciated!!!
For all of Florida’s waters,
Linda Young, Executive Director
Florida Clean Water Network
PO Box 5124