Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Governor Charlie Crist October 2, 2007

The Capital

Tallahassee, Fl. 32399


Dear Governor Crist:

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) is thrilled to finally have a Governor who speaks out for the environment. Your state-wide initiative to curb greenhouse gases is a breath of fresh air which our coalition strongly supports.

While we applaud your efforts to confront this unprecedented threat to our planet, our concerns about the West County Energy Center (WCEC) have been ignored by your office, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and other State agencies. The emission of an estimated 8.5 to 13.5 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, millions of tons of other noxious gases released just a stone’s throw away from the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and the consumption of over 6.5 billion gallons of water each year by this power plant flies in the face of your stated initiatives, and cannot be ignored. Your initiatives to require state agencies to become more energy efficient, while ignoring this massive assault upon the atmosphere, is equivalent to serving a cool drink to the passengers of the Titanic before it hits the iceberg. Moreover, this power plant is unnecessary because it was designed in large part to serve the needs of a predicted population growth in Palm Beach County, which demographers and elected officials now say will not occur. In fact, many people are leaving Palm Beach County due to housing problems, the economy, and various quality of life factors, which all stem from the type of run-away growth that this power plant will only fuel and make worse.

On May 24, 2007, we sent you a letter asking you to reconsider your approval of the WCEC. Your office responded that we should share our concerns with the Florida DEP. When we did so, we were astounded to learn from director Michael Sole that the Florida DEP does not regulate, nor even monitor the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Such lack of concern from the head of the Florida DEP about climate change flies in the face of your stated initiatives, and constitutes an astounding dereliction of duty, similar to a State Attorney’s office announcing that he would no longer prosecute, nor even monitor homicide. Such irresponsibility by the head of the Florida DEP should be corrected at once and not ignored by your office.

Under the previous administration such comments by the DEP and acquiescence from the Governor’s office were typical. However, we expect much more from your enlightened leadership. Moreover, under the recent decision of the Commonwealth of Massachusettes vs. the EPA, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the emission of greenhouse gases can no longer be ignored by agencies which are entrusted to protect our air, land and water, such as the Florida DEP. Thus Mr. Sole’s comments are not only irresponsible, they are also a flagrant violation of the law. As our coalition successfully spearheaded the legal and political challenge against the State’s effort to place Scripps on Mecca Farms, our coalition is now mobilizing our community to oppose this unnecessary power plant. Once the people have been informed about this issue, they have rallied to our side. We have also filed several legal challenges to the WCEC. As with Scripps, we expect a victory in this effort as well. While we succeeded in our struggle to move Scripps off of Mecca Farms, this came only after the State and County squandered over $100 million of taxpayer’s dollars in their futile defense and plans to move forward with this ill-fated decision, and is a large part of the reason why the State must now hold a special session to try to recoup this expenditure form the taxpayers. If you want to lower taxes in this special session, pull the plug on the power plant, encourage conservation and the use of alternative energy, and then you won’t have to cut vital services such as law enforcement, wildlife management, education and critically needed services to the poor.

As Florida’s Attorney General, you expressed concerns when the cabinet met to vote on this issue, regarding a possible violation of due process stemming from the lack of proper notice, a failure to fully inform the public, and the rushed procedure for such a massive project. When you became Governor, our coalition wrote you a letter on May 24, 2007, asking you to take another look at this project, and at your international conference on global warming, we asked you publicly if you would work with us to cancel the plans to construct the WCEC in Palm Beach County. In response you publicly stated that you would look into this. After all this time, we now ask you once again, do you know or even care about the amount of greenhouse gases that will be released into the atmosphere by the WCEC? Have you had the opportunity to review this potential environmental disaster and if so, will you join our effort to cancel this project? Will you require the Florida DEP to monitor and regulate greenhouse gas emissions prior to approving a project, and if so, will you ask the Florida DEP for the first time, to take such action and reconsider its approval of the WCEC, especially in light of FP&L’s recent announcement that it intended to increase the wattage to be generated by this power plant beyond its original estimates when it was approved by the Florida DEP?

We appreciate your stated desire to combat climate change, and have publicly stated so. However, should you not advise us within 10 days of this letter of your agreement to work with us to pull the plug on the WCEC, we shall inform the public of the discrepancy between your words and deeds on this vital issue. We would much prefer to be able to inform the public that they have a Governor who is making great strides in environmental protection and lowering taxes, and whose deeds are consistent with his lofty statements. Thus we eagerly anticipate your cooperation, and stand ready to commit all of our resources to working with you to accomplish your worthy goals.

Sincerely Yours,

Barry Silver and Panagioti Tsolkas, co-chairs of the PBCEC

cc: Sierra Club, Audubon Society, 1000 Friends of Florida, WWF et al.

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