Monday, March 17, 2008

No New Mines, No New Roads.. Sustainability NOW!!

For those who know the PBCEC, you know that we take strong and strategic stances in defense of our environment and our communities. Many times we have stood together with other local and national environmental groups and other times we have felt a need to stand apart and stick with the overgrown-grassroots road. While our fight with FPL has taken us on a wild ride--and it certainly ain´t over yet!--there is a series of new battles emerging that also demand our attention. They offer opportunities to work with many groups and individuals (certainly including some pretty strange bed-fellows.. with whom we may likely find ourselves lying on the floor). Just as we took a stand against the West County Energy Center being the fossil fuel motor of unsustainable growth, we are now facing another facet of the sprawl machine: roads. Roads have rightly been called the gateway drug to development. They are the infrastructure of the potential over-development nightmare to come...
Yet, as with the power plant fight, if we stop road construction and expansion, we invite a new future of conservation and sustainability into our communities. And in doing so, we remove the need for new rock-mining that is polluting the water supply and leaving craters in our wetlands and marshes. The PBCEC demands that all public funding go towards improving public transit access for a crowded and polluted County that is on the verge of wiping out the Everglades ecosystem and any chance at it´s restoration.
Now is the time to defeat these destructive projects. The development/real estate industry and their political puppets are on the defensive (or under Federal indictments). They can no longer justify the infrastructure proposals that they have been pushing on us for decades. Now is the time and to stand and shout for the future we want; and to begin creating it here-and-now... (and while i´m on a roll, i´d like to throw in there: to hell with the Bert Harris Act!)
...We are the ones we´ve been waiting for...
Hope to see everyone reading this message at our next PBCEC meeting April 7th, 7pm at Howley´s Restaurant in West Palm Beach (4700 South Dixie Highway.)

panagioti tsolkas, PBCEC co-chair

p.s. Don´t forget about Fossil Fools Day, Tues., April 1st 2008 to get involved with local activities, contact

Everglades Agricultural Area mining summit THIS WEDNSEDAY!! At the Mounts Botanical Garden,
¨Commissioners have called for a first-ever county rock-mining summit with state and federal authorities. The three-hour meeting, with a half-hour allotted for public comment, is to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Hutcheson Agricultural Center, 559 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach.
¨Millions of tons of valuable limestone lay beneath the vast farmlands of western Palm Beach County’s Everglades Agricultural Area — a treasure for those building Florida’s new roads and development.¨
Read the article by Mark Hollis, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 16 2008,0,7274849.story

No New Roads! No More Sprawl!!
The PBCEC is standing firm in opposition to all new roads that act as a ´gateway drug´ to Palm Beach County´s development junkies. Please get in touch with Nicolle to get involved in mobilizing against these new road plans..

¨I am a Sierra member who also lives in the Acreage, part of the Indian Trail Improvement District. I’m asking for volunteers and Sierra’s support. I ask that you oppose all new roads in the Western Communities because they allow suburban sprawl to continue westward towards the EAA. What happened to Eastward Ho!?
Please contact me if you oppose these roads. I need your help writing letters, making phone calls and commenting at public meetings. I would like to have the county’s five year plan ammended to eliminate the funding for these roads. Taxpayers money should go to more worthy causes. -Nicolle Tolleson 561-506-9016¨

Read Nicolle´s full letter explaining road opposition to at:

Also, read the PBCEC´s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the Seminole Pratt Extension:

Oh and check out some of our recent appearences in the news!
*Great rebuttal to John R Smith´s hit piece in the Sun-Sentinel last week,0,687773.story

*Another article in the Sun-Sentinel about FPL and protests..,0,4205026,full.story

*The original John R. Smith piece for those who didn´t see it yet..,0,687773.story

Stop the Seminole Pratt Extension, Restore the Hungryland Slough!

March, 14, 2008

Alisa Zarbo
Regulatory Division, Special Projects/Enforcement Branch, Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers
Department of the Army
2170 SW Canal Street
Stuart, FL 34997

Re: Permit Application No. SAJ-2006-7857 (IP-AAZ)-Seminole Pratt Whitney Road extension from Northlake Boulevard to Beeline Highway/SR710, Palm Beach County

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) is opposed to the Expansion of this road. It should never be built, It should never have been proposed. We suggest a denial of this permit and the pursuit of a no-build option.

It will be a four-lane road divided highway 160-feet wide, comparable to Northlake Boulevard, Six miles in length along the eastern boundary of the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area going basically straight north from the southern public entrance to Corbett. It will permanently separate two natural areas, Corbett and Palm Beach County Hungryland Slough Natural Area, making the hydrological connection (sheet flow) of water from Corbett to Hungryland Slough Natural Area impossible, hindering regional restoration efforts. We feel that Mecca farms, which is adjacent property now in public ownership, and Vavrus, which is identified on the Northeast Everglades Natural Area (NENA) map by the County´s Environmental Resource Management (ERM) as desired land, should be restored--this road would lessen the restoration value of those sites.

The road will be built on a 2/3 mile long, 100-foot wide portion of southeastern Corbett (10 acres) and on 2 acres of northeast Corbett; it fills over 28 acres of wetlands, and likely much more when wet flatwoods and wet prairie area included. There will secondary impacts to wetlands next to the road which will have hydrologic issues due to drainage through culverts under road for the entire length of the extension.

The Permit application states that no Bald Eagles, Red-cockaded woodpeckers or Everglades snail kites were observed in the wildlife survey in the applicant´s Environmental Assessment. Participants with the PBCEC have visited the proposed corridor of the road extension (and the surrounding areas) on multiple outings and have seen the abovementioned listed species on numerous occassions in the area.

We have seen for ourselves that wading birds, including: wood storks, white ibis, little blue heron, roseate spoonbill, snowy egrets and tricolor herons, will lose foraging areas. We believe there will likely be increased road kills for sandhill cranes. Road kills will also increase for reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and large, both prey and predator. Fencing and underpasses for wildlife will not help, as we can look at dead animals all along Northlake Blvd outside the fences. This road will also remove Hungryland Slough Natural Area from Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) recovery plans. The road will cause petro-chemical runoff into wetlands and will be vector for exotic plants.

Portions of the Hungryland Slough Natural Area were purchased from unwilling sellers through eminent domain for environmental preservation and portions of this Natural Area are being restored for mitigation credits (the value of which is questionable when it is cut off from Corbett and becomes an isolated County park). This road would further push the climate of distrust that currently exists between the general public and government agencies regarding important restoration-oriented land acquisition projects.

We must also ask why this road is desired. Will it really improve transportation? To where? For who? It has been planned for 30 years, at a time before the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was created. Government agencies once wanted to drain the entire Everglades; we now recognize the value of restored hydrology for both wildlife habitat and human water supply. We now know the cumulative danger to the Everglades watershed of ´death by a thousand cuts´. Just because a road is in the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan, does not mean we are stuck with it. Exemptions are made for private developments, many of which are against the public interest, all the time; why would we not make exemptions for wildlife and the protection of public land?

The Seminole Pratt extension is not needed for evacuations. Hurricane plans emphasize local evacuations from the coast to the area of this road. It is not needed for access to central Martin County, which currently has no housing or development--recent polling has shown that it is not desired there. It appears that the only apparent reason for this road is to facilitate the development and expansion of two industrial complexes next to Corbett: Pratt Whitney and the North County Industrial Park. These complexes were intended to be anchors for development that is never coming. They were sent into rural Palm Beach County on the trojan horse of ¨more jobs¨, similar to the recent debacle with the Scripps Biotech Research Park (which was exposed and defeated). The inhabitants of the Everglades region—human and non-human--can´t afford to be tricked by greed and private interests any longer.

It has been said that this extension is a “missing link” in the Seminole-Pratt Whitney Road. Well, what about the missing link in the Hungryland Slough/Loxahatchee River watershed that we are spending billions in public money to restore?!

A responsible proposal to get people from the Acreage community to the coast would focus on improving traffic flows on Northlake, Okeechobee and Southern Boulevards, which are existing corridors. More specifically, the PBCEC wants to see increased public transit access in theses areas--in light of our Governor´s Executive Orders on Climate Change, we feel strongly that this is where County and State Transportation funds should be directed. And most importantly, for sane traffic flow, as well as the longterm viability of our South Florida communities, we must stop over development and sprawl in western Palm Beach County immediately. Denying this permit is a step in the direction of sustainability.

Thank you for considering our comments. If you have any questions regarding our position, please do not hesitate to get in touch,

Panagioti Tsolkas
Co-Chair, PBCEC

No More Roads in PBC!

[Letter from a Loxahatchee Sierra Club member regarding roads in PBC]
Dear Lox Group,

I am a Sierra member who also lives in the Acreage, part of the Indian Trail Improvement District. I'm asking for volunteers and Sierra's support. I ask that you oppose all new roads in the Western Communities because they allow suburban sprawl to continue westward towards the EAA. What happened to Eastward Ho!?

New roads do not ease traffic congestion. They allow for increases in densities in huge developments that have not yet been built- such as GL Homes, Callery Judge, and many more. The Bert Harris Act forbides me to ask for a moratorium on these scheduled developments eventhough there are 40 months of homes on the market. However, there is no reason to allow the developers to build greater density than legally allowed by the Comp Plan and Ag Enclave. These deals are being made right now but you must contact me for the details. New Roads either pave over existing wetlands or they Eminent Domain existing low density homesteads. The Sector Plan Overlay, if passed, would allow the Western Communities to be filled in with greater density- and is refered to as "infill" in the document. I have copies of the Overlay. Increasing density does not solve sprawl but makes it worse when most jobs are east. These roads will run north and south, not east and west. New roads bring air, noise and light pollution, loss of habitat, and the real possiblity of oil, hydraulic fluid, diesel and gasoline spills.

If you oppose the Roebuck Road extension then you should oppose the Acreage Reliever Road extension (which is part of the State Road 7 extension) and the Seminole Pratt extension. All of these road extensions are new roads that will pave over wetlands. What is troubling to me is that people who oppose Roebuck Road have not opposed the SR7 extension when the argument is the same. Is it because the residents of Bayhill and nearby communities are wealthier than Acreage residents and can pay more for attorneys and senators to back them? I have attached some photos from the Acreage reliever road which is in the Pond Cypress Natural Area. It is also troubling that the money for these roads is already set aside in the County's five year plan (attached). The website for the SR 7 extension road states that "the no build option is still being considered and studied"

Please contact me if you oppose these roads.
I need your help writing letters, making phone calls and commenting at public meetings.
I would like to have the county's five year plan ammended to eliminate the funding for these roads. Taxpayers money should go to more worthy causes.

-Nicolle Tolleson

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PBCEC 3/3/08 Meeting Summary and More

Sorry to those who missed another great meeting... Join us next time, Monday April 7, 7pm at Howley´s Restaurant

Sorry about some holes in the notes.. I´m on my way to table at the Langerado Festival and running late!

-panagioti, PBCEC co-chair

We discussed:

*FPL updates- We discussed the recent protests and arrests, administrative challenges and federal lawsuit and upcoming protests around the potential Gulfstream pipeline construction. Tuesday, April 1 2008 is a national day of protest called ´Fossil Fools Day´ anounced by the group Rising Tide North America. Find out more at Get in touch for local activities.. Also, tonite (Thursday 7:30pm at Temple Torah in Delray) is the Democratic Exec. Committee (DEC). There is call from PBCEC co-chair Barry Silver to attend and ask for DEC support in our WCEC fight and in specific around the threats of harsh sentences against civil
disobedience protesters.

*Roebuck Rd- This 3 mile road has a long history of opposition from neighbors and opposition. It has been said that it is only a ´NIMBY´ issue, and there may be some truth there, but the reality is that SR 7 extension is tied to this plan, as well as the Jog Road extension. If one goes the other is not needed. If one gets built the other is inevitable. There are no meetings for the immediate future, but please keep an ear out. Many elected officials have expressed interest in stopping this project. Their motives are unclear, but we were informed at our meeting that Megan Kossove, Legislative Aide to Senator Jeff Atwater is coordinating a peition effort. She can be reached at: Phone: 561.625.5101, 561.625.5103 FAX,
mail: 824 US Hwy 1; Suite 210 North Palm Beach, FL 33408

PBCEC feels that this road and all new roads, road extensions and road expansions should be opposed as the gateway drugs of growth and the thieves of public resources that should go towards improving public transit and reducing our fossil fuel dependency. And on that note, we
also discussed...

*Seminole Pratt Extension- [ACTION Needed!} This 6 miles of new/extended 4-lane road has been on the table since 1982. There was no reason for it then, and there is no reason for it now. With Jeb´s Biotech trojan horse, Scripps, beaten back across I-95 (still not far enough!), there is no excuse for this road other than more sprawling development and industry. A public notice for the permit application described below has been posted at
Scroll ¼ down the site. File name: 20080225-saj-2006-7857. Comment are DUE MARCH 17 2008.
Project Name: Seminole Pratt Whitney Road Extension.

*Indian Trail/ Sector Plan- PBCEC participants in the Western Communities are challenging various upcoming decisions intended to facilitate increased development in the rural tiers of the County. The Indian Trails Improvement District council voted to buy water and sewer from the county. The PBCEC supports local residents who say this will accommodate sprawl and drive the cost of living up for people.

*´Reach 8´ is the new beach dredge and fill project that is being fought by Sierra Club members, Surfrider Foundation, Reef Rescue and others. While the Town of Palm Beach voted against paying for the project, they are now pushing for an estimated $100 million in Federal funding for sand in front of a privitized coastline plagued with condos. This project must be stopped! Check for details.

*Marlins Baseball Player endorses and brags about wanton, wasteful and cruel treatment of wildlife- A Marlin was bragging about shooting animals from the air, which are then left to die. PBCEC participants who are concerned about animal abuse are planning to attend a spring
training game and voice their concerns with the team´s image of disrespect for the wild.. Get in touch for more details.

*Airport Expansion- no one from the meeting made it to these hearings, but we are interested in following the issue. Anyone out there available to help?!

*Don´t forget the March 15 ´Energy Film Festival´ at the Delray Beach County Library, Sponsored by Loxahatchee Sierra Club

*Also March 15, 12-2pm protest at FPL´s Hutchinson Island power plant:
No Nuke Expansion!

*March 14, In Miami: Support the fight for affordable housing, join a demonstration hosted by ´Take Back the Land´, 6pm at 46th st and 25th ave.

Here´s a new issue facing our neighbors to the north that was not discussed in our meeting:
*St. Lucie ARC Incinerator- Speaker comes to South Florida, MARCH 13

His message:
¨My name is David Ciplet, and I work with an organization called the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). We are a global network of 500 organizations and individuals in 81 countries working for healthier alternatives to waste incineration.

I am writing because I will be traveling to Florida next week with my colleagues Dr. Paul Connett and Bradley Angel to talk with community members and decision makers in Tallahassee, Gainesville and St. Lucie about the dangers of incinerators-- including plasma arc incineration. We are working with the newly formed statewide alliance, Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise.

Building the plasma arc incinerator for St. Lucie County is an enormous decision for the county to make, and it is important that residents and decision makers have all of the information to make an educated decision. If constructed, the Geoplasma facility will be one of the largest incinerators in the world. It also has the potential to be precedent setting for other communities in the U.S. that thus far have been effective in preventing new incinerators from being sited in their community.

We hope that there are individuals in St. Lucie that are interested in hearing about what we see as the health, economic and environmental dangers of plasma arc incineration for your community, as well as the alternatives.

Dr. Connett and I will arrive in St. Lucie county next Thursday, March 13 at around noon. Please let me know if there are individuals that are interested in arranging meetings to discuss these issues with us on that day. Below, I have included links to a movie about some of the impacts of plasma, pyrolysis and gasification incineration. I have also attached a list of case studies about incinerators in disguise from around the world. I think these two items will provide a good introduction to some of the concerns that we have.¨

Below are links to a movie about pyrolysis, gasification and plasma on YouTube. The movie was produced by Healthcare Without Harm and GAIA. In the movie, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, PhD. reviews some of the dangers of pyrolysis, gasification and plasma incineration. Although the video most directly focuses on medical waste incineration, most of the information presented generally relates to other feedstocks as well. This should provide people with a solid understanding of some of the dangers.

Part 1 (Background):
Part 2 (Pyrolysis, Gasification, Plasma):
Part 3 (Environmental Concerns):
Part 4 (Other Issues):

Dave Ciplet
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
(510)883-9490 ext. 102

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Court Hearings for Anti-FPL Protestors

Aside from the greenclad suppoters keeping an energetic presence on the streets and in the courtroom, the first round of court hearings went rather uneventfully last Monday March 3. Originally all assigned to the same judge, the 24 protestors with hearings on Monday were split amongst 6 other judges, only to have their cases reset for dates varying from March 14 to March 31. Only one plea offer was made, to drop two of the three charges, and offer community service for the third charge. This plea was accepted and one case is successfully closed!

The public defenders office is putting forth an appreciable effort into our cases, and we are assembling a small team of pro bono private lawyers as well. The state attorney is considering pressing for financial restitution from the defendants, but we hope they do not take such a severe step to unfairly penalize first amendment rights of free speech and expression.

If you would like to be present at any or all of the cases, please contact us for dates and times.