Friday, June 27, 2008

Let's Keep the Pressure on!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crist: No Expansion of nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure.. Sustainable Energy NOW!

Various organizations, including Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, Everglades Earth First!, Florida Green Party, Greenpeace, Nuclear Information Resource Service showed up to demonstrate against the expansion of nuclear and fossil fuel energy infrastructure...

FPL Protest Trial Updates.. And urgent call for solidarity with arrested activists in southern Indiana fighting I-69 NAFTA Superhighway

[For previous days' Trial updates checkout:]

A verdict and sentencing was given Friday afternoon. 6 defendants with the Earth First! movement from all across Florida and the U.S. were found guilty of 3 charges: unlawful assembly, trespass, and resisting. The sentence is a year of probation; no contact with the Palm Beach Aggregates or West County Energy Center (WCEC) site; and $333 in court costs. There will be a restitution hearing to decide if they will be required to pay the Sheriff's decision to pay overtime, for which the State is requesting $20,000.

In my opinion, the defense was excellent and compelling, offering the jury various legal opportunities to side with the environment over the State. We can only guess why they chose the decisions they made. I want to thank all the attorneys who worked on this case and all the people who showed up in court to support our efforts. It was very heartening to those in front of the Judge to see green shirts in the audience, representing the cross-generational solidarity in our fight to stop the FPL's new fossil fuel plans.

As indicated below, the trial was a success in capturing peoples' attention and informing the public on the pending threats of the WCEC through the media, the jury selection and the our week long presence in the courthouse. And there is certainly more to come...

There are 13 remaining defendants who have been given a court date of July 15. Are likely to also take their cases to a public trial and will be looking for a showing of community support in the court room. Although we were fortunate to have representation from the Public Defenders office, we have incurred legal costs in this case, and of course are also amassing legal costs for our civil challenges to the WCEC construction. Donations would be greatly appreciated.

On I-69 & Southern Indiana:
As our court date was wrapping up, we received a call from friends and fellow environmental activists in Indiana that people were being arrested for their tree-sit blockade to stop I-69 (the 'NAFTA Superhighway') from being built through forests, wetlands, farms and homes. We offer our thoughts and actions to them and hope others will do they same, as people there have been following and supporting our efforts here in the Everglades. There are even some of the same companies involved in the WCEC and I-69. Below this email is information on supporting them, including some simple phone calls and emails, which all of us can do from home.. Perhaps we can plan something for Monday at the local office for Zachry Construction?!

Please show your solidarity with these committed activists in the heartland!!

For the Wild,
panagioti tsolkas
Co-chair, Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
Everglades Earth First! activist

"Power-plant protesters found guilty, given probation" by Kelly Wolfe


"FPL plant risky to environment, chemist testifies" K. Wolfe

"Free speech area' issue raised at protest trial" K. Wolfe

TV news coverage from Fox 29:


Call for URGENT Support of activists in Indiana:

CHECK for more information!
PLEASE forward to as many individuals and list serves as possible!

Urgent Update on the Tree Sit's Eviction and how you can help

At 5:45 am local time, over 25 officers from three different agencies descended on the scene of the anti I-69 tree sit. Over the next few hours, the officers worked to bring both of the tree-borne protesters down and promptly placed them under arrest. For more info, check the press release at the end of this email...

Arrests from this morning now total 8, with police actively hunting down any of those who have been involved in the sit. Donations for the legal support for these individuals are greatly and urgently needed. We have a paypal account set up, which can be found on the front page of our website (
Other options can be arranged by emailing

The life-threatening actions of the cops, and INDOT's despicable attitudes generally, must not go unchallenged. Below is a list of the contacts for some of the responsible parties:

INDOT Central Office 317-232-5319
Vincennes District Office 812-895-7301
INDOT Legal Office 317 234 2682
the I-69 Project Manager, Steven Smith 317-232-5646
Gohmann Asphalt and Construction (contracted to do the clearing and construction of the first 1.77 miles of the route this summer)
812-282-1349; their fax numbers are 812-288-2168, 812-385-1207, 812- 768-5251

Otherwise, any visible, public response to the agencies involved would be particularly effective at this time. There has been a general call out for Monday, the 23rd to be a day of solidarity actions. These actions would certainly mean a lot right now to those involved in the sit to the vast majority of Indiana residents that are opposed to this road.

You can check the websites of involved companies for more info on where their offices are:


Gohmann Asphalt & Construction,

Michael Baker, Inc. -

BAA Indianapolis LLC -


Wilbur Smith Associates -


Bernardin Lochmueller and Associates

Ozark Underground Laboratories -

Zachry Construction Corporation -

I-69 Media Office
323 S Walnut
Bloomington, IN



June 20th 7am, Evansville Indiana -- In the early morning hours of June 20th, around 25 police officers from the Indiana State Police (ISP), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Gibson County Sheriff's office descended on the scene of the anti-I69 tree sit, just south of State Road 68 in southern Gibson County (20 miles north of Evansville). The police officers, many of them trained specifically for this purpose, brought in "cherry pickers" and other platform raising equipment in order to reach the sitters. The two people in the trees at the time of eviction were lowered to the ground, after being forcefully and dangerously approached by Conservation Officers of the IDNR.

Sitting on platforms suspended 40 feet above the ground, the tree-sitters were not in positions from which they could be easily and safely removed. Arresting officers' reckless behaviors, however, resulted in protesters' quick eviction. One protester was not attached to a safety line during the eviction, but was still hostilely handled by the Conservation Officers. As they reached her with the cherry picker, they pulled her unattached to anything that would have prevented her tumbling to the ground, putting her life in great danger.

After evicting the first sitter, officers moved on to the second. They raised the cherry picker below the platform to threaten the sitter, and then lifted the platform with the cherry picker. They proceeded to cut the support line that was holding it in the tree. This protester had locked himself onto the ropes using a "lock box" device intended to help him evade eviction. The officers cut that rope, leaving this protester also without any form of safety.

After the tree-sitters were forcibly removed from their tree top positions, they were lowered, cuffed and placed on the ground below the trees. From a telephone recording made during the eviction, it is clear that the arresting officers purposefully laid one of the protesters face down into a patch of poison ivy.

People not involved in the tree-sit eviction this morning have reported to the media office that state police officers are pulling people over on the state highways in the vicinity of the sit. One person reports that they were surrounded by 5 police vehicles when stopped. As well, it has been reported that one car had its tires blown out by the state police in order for them to arrest all of the occupants of that vehicle.

The information in this press release was compiled by the I-69 Media Office, an independent anti-I69 media clearinghouse. All questions should be directed to the media contact given in this release.

Friday, June 20, 2008

FPL Protest Trial Updates


On Tuesday, the judge denied the motion to consolidate all remaining defendants into one trial, and only the six that had traveled the farthest were selected to begin trial. The remaining defendants were tentatively reset for trial in mid-July.

A full 10 hours was spent selecting a jury, after which, on Wednesday the state attorney began their case. Continuing through Thursday, several officers testified, as well as an employee of Palm Beach Aggregates, the site where the protest was located. The police video of the protests and arrests, showing a chaotic scene with intimidating police dogs and peaceful protestors screaming in pain from officers' actions, was shown to the jury.

After the state rested their case, their was arguments made on both sides on whether to allow the defendants to use a "necessity defense" in the trial. A necessity defense allows that a person may have committed a crime, but did so out of necessity to prevent a greater harm to themselves or another person. Despite the state attorney's best efforts to squash it, the judge upheld the defendant's right to use this defense and present their side of the story. This could be a precedent setting case in the use of environmental necessity to legally defend direct actions.

Two expert witnesses presented thorough and objective testimony on the disastrous effects of FPL's West County Energy Center before the day ended. One witness, a hydroecologist, stated that the number one environmental stressors was disruption of hydrology, and showed that WCEC's plant is sure to do just that based on its enormous water usage in an area prone to drought, saltwater intrusion, and water mismanagement. The other expert spoke to the effects of the plant on water quality and rain pH.

The trial should wrap up tomorrow (Friday), after testimony from protest organizers and the defendants.

FPL plant risky to environment, chemist testifies
Free speech area' issue raised at protest trial

[There was also a great column by Frank Cerabino, which unfortunately has not been posted online...]

FPL Protestors Prepare for Mass Trial

June 16, 2008; West Palm Beach, FL - Jury trial will begin on June 17 at the Palm Beach County Courthouse for 20 environmental activists with the Everglades Earth First! movement who were arrested on February 18 while protesting at the entrance to the construction site of FPL's West County Energy Center (WCEC). The trial will take place in Judge Barry Cohen's Palm Beach County courtroom 9F, around 9am. The trial is expected to last 3 to 4 days. There will be a press conference, Tuesday at 8:15am, on the steps, eastside in front of the courthouse.

The protest centered around growing resistance to 3800 megawatts of gas-and-diesel-fired power generation, located on site of the scandal-ridden Palm Beach Aggregates.The WCEC is 1000 feet north from the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge which serves as the functional headwater of the remaining southern Everglades ecosystem. The facility includes pipeline directly adjacent to the L-8 canal and neighbors the massive reservoir which is intended to improve water flow in the Loxahatchee Basin, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).

"When someone stands up to defend the environment, they are treated as criminals; a corporation threatens to pollute and destroy the environment, they are awarded with permits. It makes no sense." says one Earth First! arrestee. "They have the wrong people on trial here."

The protest was also supported by the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC), who have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop construction until a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed for WCEC'ss fuel source, the Gulfstream Pipeline. An EIS requires that all cumulative and secondary impacts must be assessed. The PBCEC challenge claims that the plant, presently under construction, is in violation of Federal and State laws, including: NEPA, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, RICO, and others. The PBCEC also has three open cases at the administrative level alleging faulty permits issued under the Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

According the the PBCEC: the completed project will consume over 6.5 billion gallons of water and emit 12.3 million tons of climate-changing CO2 annually; 18.9 million gallons of diesel fuel will be stored on-site; Up to 21 million gallons of industrial waste water could be deep well injected on site per day; It would provide the power to invite over a million new homes worth of sprawl into the region.

The activists contend that power use could be met through conservation, efficiency, and renewable options immediately, if only greed and corruption wasn't standing in the way. "We believe the jury will find our actions justifiable, and that they will condemn the actions of FPL and this system of runaway development that promises to destroy Florida," states another Earth First! arrestee.

Following the February protest, the Everglades Earth First! group began an ongoing effort to monitor construction and document immediate impacts to wildlife and public health.

For more info: