Sunday, August 31, 2008

PBCEC Letter to Army Corps of Engineers Opposing Roebuck and Jog Road

Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
¨Fighting for healthy ecosystems, open space and quality of life in Palm Beach County¨
822 North C Street, Lake Worth, FL 33460 561-588-9666

August 27, 2008


Justin W. Hughes
District Corps of Engineers
Department of the Army
2170 SW Canal Street
Stuart, FL 34997

Re: Roebuck Road Permit Application No. SAJ-2008-2749 (IP-JWH) and

Jog Road Permit Application No. SAJ-2006-6142 (IP-JWH)

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) is opposed to the construction/extension of these roads. We suggest a denial of this permit and the pursuit of a no-build option. The cumulative impacts will be a great burden to the public and the permits for new, extended roads do not adequately take into the consideration for public transportation increases, and other available options, to address traffic concerns in a safer, more cost effective, environmentally sensitive manor.

The impacts to hydrological flow and wildlife habitat in the Loxahatchee Slough ecosystem are unacceptable. Participants in the PBCEC utilize the wetlands of Grass Waters Preserve for recreation and drinking water supply and we must fight to protect these important public resources from encroachment by poorly planned urban infrastructure projects such as those represented by Roebuck Road Permit Application No. SAJ-2008-2749 (IP-JWH) and Jog Road Permit Application No. SAJ-2006-6142 (IP-JWH).

The greater Everglades Ecosystem, which consists of interconnected shallow and underground water flow, has taken impacts from urban development far beyond its capacity to sustain a regionally viable watershed. It is the subject of the world's largest, most ambitious restoration endeavor—the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). These roads threaten to negatively interfere with quality and quantity of water and habitat that are intended for improvement through the Northeast CERP effort to restore water availability to the Loxahatchee Slough and River.

The Grass Waters Preserve is also a key component of the Northeast Everglades Natural Area (NENA) plan, which is an collaborative interagency effort to maintain and improve the regions wildlife recreational access, including Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management, South Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other various local governing bodies. We feel these roads will negatively impact the NENA process.

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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Environmentalists file Emergency Injunction to stop construction on the expansion of the Gulfstream pipeline and FPL power plant


Federal litigation: Barry Silver, Esq. 561-483-6900; David Reiner, Esq. 305-670-8282
PBCEC: Panagioti Tsolkas 561-588-9666
Everglades Earth First!: Lynne Purvis 561-588-3974

Environmentalists file Emergency Injunction to stop construction on the expansion of the Gulfstream pipeline and FPL power plant adjacent to Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge;

Meanwhile, the battle against expansion construction continues at the ground level and in criminal court

Palm Beach and Martin County, FL
– A Motion for Emergency Injunction was filed in Federal Court August 29, 2008 by the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) in response to an August 21 order to "commence operations" for gas pipeline fueling for the West County Energy Center. Meanwhile activists arrested for their opposition continue to fight charges in Martin and Palm Beach County Court.

In explaining the justification for both the request for Emergency Injection and the need for continued protest, Co-counsel Barry Silver noted, “With the accelerating climate change we have seen in recent years and the horrific and catastrophic changes in our planet's environment as a result of these changes, there is no more time for half-measures in dealing with this crisis. It is the height of irresponsibility for FPL to even consider spending billions of dollars for another fossil fuel power plant, simply to provide energy for people that are not even here and, according to recent demographic changes, perhaps never will be here.”

After more than two years of battle, including 6 administrative legal challenges (five of which are still pending), dozens of demonstrations and more than 30 arrests for multiple civil disobedience actions, the activists are asking Judge Middlebrooks to halt any further damage to regional ecosystems caused by construction while their Federal legal complaint is reviewed. This complaint alleges multiple counts of Federal and State violations, including: NEPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, RICO, Sunshine Law, and others. Several of these violations pose immediate risks, necessitating the Motion for an Emergency Temporary Injunction.

A previous press conference in May of this year announcing the filing of this Federal Complaint ended in the arrest of plaintiff and PBCEC co-chair Panagioti Tsolkas on an alleged felony warrant in Martin County for trespassing on Gulfstream Pipeline property. Although the arrest caused hardships and delays for the group’s work, it has solidified their commitment to fighting this project. The charges against Tsolkas, resulting from construction monitoring activities related to the group’s litigation, were dropped by Martin County on August 13, 2008.

"We refuse to be silenced by these energy giants" said Tsolkas. "They are pulling the political strings across the world and driving the planet's remaining human and wildlife habitats into oblivion. No person with a conscience can stand by and watch it happen any longer."

Tsolkas says he expects the court to grant the Injunction and require the permitting process to include a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will review cumulative and secondary risks associated with the segmented project.

"We have a basic, fundamental demand. There is really not any way around it. Projects of this scale need an EIS.” Tsolkas says he is frustrated that Governor Crist (named as a Defendant) could revoke this power plant at anytime for violating the Final Certification approved by Governor Bush's Cabinet in December 2006. “Unfortunately we can't sit and wait for that."

Protests and civil disobedience lawsuits continue

PBCEC plans to continue fighting FPL's Loxahatchee proposal on the community level as well. The group is a key sponsor in a 'Rally for the Everglades' scheduled for September 20, starting at Stormwater Treatment Area 1E, less than a mile east from the WCEC site at Palm Beach Aggregates. It is expected to be one of the largest anti-FPL protests to date.

Another group sponsoring the September 20 event is Everglades Earth First! (EEF!), who was involved in the blockade that stopped construction on February 18 at the WCEC and sparked national media coverage. Several of those arrested are still facing trial, but a significant victory was won by the group and their Public Defenders this week when Judge Cohen ruled against restitution to the Sheriff by the protesters. The group viewed the restitution demand as unconstitutional. A sentencing hearing occurred as well on August 29 for four protesters from the group. Thirty-eight officers with the Palm Beach County Sheriff attended the hearing to testify on behalf of the State Attorney's Office to renew the push for restitution. No resolution is expected until later this month.

According to EEF! Organizer Lynne Purvis, “a goal of taking this criminal case to trial has been to show the public that it is a necessity to stand up for our planet; sometimes civil disobedience is needed and that should not be discouraged by squads of riot police and frivolous restitution claims.”

“Damage is being done right now by construction associated with the FPL WCEC expansion. The impact will be magnified if that plant goes into operation, as millions of gallons of water is sucked from the Everglades and thousands of tons greenhouse gases and ozone are spewed into the air every day. Our ongoing protests and the legal injunction filed today go hand-in-hand. There is an urgent need for people to take action now. Otherwise, it may be a moot point in the near future.”

Copies of the Amended Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief are available electronically from Barry Silver; emergency affidavits of experts and plaintiffs will be available on Tuesday, September 2 ( For more information on WCEC, Gulfstream and other related issues, see:


Friday, August 22, 2008

Environmental groups tell FMPA Dedication: "Kick the Fossil Fuel Addiction, No New Gas Plants in Florida!"

For Immediate Release August 14, 2008:
Contact: Rachel Kijewski,; Panagioti Tsolkas 561-588-9666,

Fort Pierce, FL -
Everglades Earth First! and Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition denounce the opening of Florida Municipal Power Agency's Treasure Coast Energy Center (TCEC) for furthering dependence on unsustainable fossil fuel and adding to the cumulative impacts of regional pollution and water consumption. While this dedication is only for the 300 MW unit 1, FMPA has an ultimate site certification for 1,200 MW. The dedication event will begin at 11am, at Selvitz Road, north of West Midway Road, Fort Pierce.

The group cites the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in criticizing Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) for the concerns they have presented.

According to TCRPC, this plant is the primary component of their required Ten Year Site Plan for 2008-2017, which has been found "inconsistent with Strategic Regional Policy Plan Goal 9.1, Decreased vulnerability of the region to fuel price increases and supply interruptions and Strategy 9.1.1 Reduce the region's reliance on fossil fuels." (5/16/2008)

According to FWC, "Air quality impacts associated with fossil fuel-burning power plants include emission of greenhouse gases; bioaccumulation of methylmercury in fish and wildlife; increased regional haze; and acidification of lakes, rivers and streams (DEP 2005)… [We] are concerned about potential for adverse impacts associated with the cumulative effects of future units combined with construction of other proposed new power plants" (10/4/05)

Everglades Earth First! activist Rachel Kijewski, who is a resident of Port St. Lucie, says "This plant is an environmental nightmare which is connected to a whole list of fossil fuel infrastructure coming to Florida."

She cites proposals for new gas pipelines across the state and two new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities on the table, one on-shore in Indiantown, the other off-shore in Broward, as evidence that utilities in the state are expanding their dependency on finite, carbon-emitting resources to accommodate new power plants such as the TCEC.

The reality of climate change, drought and cumulative air pollution demand that projects such as TCEC be abandoned in favor of renewable, decentralized energy generation. The TCRPC Ten Year Site Plan report suggests a "shift to rooftop photovoltaic systems".

Everglades Earth First! may not actually be present to attend the TCEC Dedication event, due to this week's trial of activists arrested protesting the construction of the West County Energy Center, an FPL power plant under construction in Loxahatchee, Palm Beach County, but they hope to be there in spirit.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Hey PBCEC folks!! August News, notes and updates...

Last meeting we talked about power plants, pipelines, roads, beach dredging, elections and boaters dropping their anchors on coral reefs. We also had two candidates running for local office show up to be questioned by us: Jeff Auslander, Republican candidate for State Rep, district 89, and candidate for circuit judge, attorney Bill Abramson. Jeff let us know that he is no fan of FPL and Bill informed the group that he is representing one of the WCEC protestors in court. You should of been there.. Mark your calendar for next month's meeting on Sept 1st, 7pm at the Quaker Meeting, 823 North A Street, Lake Worth.. (which is both US Labor Day and the start of Ramadan.)

Speaking of FPL Protests, trials are starting up again. Today (Monday, 8/11/08) was jury selection for 4 activists who participated in the February 18 FPL blockade action at Palm Beach Aggregates (remember? ) Trial is taking place in courtroom 9F, downtown West Palm, in front of Judge Cohen, it will go through Wednesday or Thursday, supporters are encouraged to wear a green shirt so you can be identified you in the crowd.

and, we aren't backing down..

Rally for the Everglades, September 20: Don't let sprawl, heavy industry and climate change destroy what's left of our watershed!!
starting 10am, meet at STA 1E (1 mile east of Lion Country Safari Rd., on the south side of Southern Blvd), we will rally and march to the entrance of FPL's West County Energy Center construction site inside the Palm Beach Aggregates rock mine. This event is hosted by the newly forming bio-regional grassroots group, the Everglades Environmental Coalition..
[click here to open flyer and print, please distribute in your community!]

On August 19, the PBCEC will be going to Tallahassee for the Public Service Commission meeting to face-off with FPL and the State bureaucrats who are pushing more fossil fuels down our throats in the form of a consolidated docket with 3,657 megawatts of gas-burning power, disguised as a green solution to climate change (including WCEC unit 3 and re-powering of the Riviera and Cape Canaveral plants). We are intervenors in the hearing, which will be held at Betty Easley Conference Center, room 148, 9:30 am.

The PBCEC will also be sending a rep to the FL Fish & Wildlife Commission's Conference on Climate and Wildlife,
August 20-22 in Orlando

In case you needed another reason to distrust law enforcement.. check out the film of this terrible attack on a bicycle advocate in NYC that has been causing a stir

Last, for several PBCEC meetings now, we have been joined by The Voters League of Palm Beach County (based in Riviera Beach)
We are joining them in encouraging support for this upcoming candidate's forum:

A Special Community Forum "Meet the Candidates: Our Votes Matter"

HAITIAN CITIZEN UNITED TASKFORCE, INC (HCUT) in partnership with For The Children Inc., Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and Immigrants' Rights Coalition of Palm Beach County invite you to the 7th Annual Candidate Forum 2008.

Saturday, August 16, 2008
7:00-9:00 pm.

Haitian Lutheran Church at 1020 S. Dixie Hwy
Lake Worth, FL 33460
(between 10th Av South and 12th Av South)

Come and show these candidates for elected office that the community is involved in local politics and social issues. This is the night to ask the candidates and elected officials about their plans for the Palm Beach County residents and your specific problems that you are having

Bob Louis Jeune, HCUT President/CEO (561 255-445/586-8054)
Christine Jones, FLIC's Voter Engagement Project (561-900-5067)


QUIÉN: La organización haitiana HAITIAN CITIZEN UNITED TASKFORCE, INC (HCUT) junto con For The Children Inc., Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) y Palm Beach Immigrant Coalition le invita al Séptimo Foro Anual con Candidatos 2008.


CUÁNDO: Sábado, 16 de agosto, 2008 de 7:00-9:00 pm.

DÓNDE: En la Iglesia Haitiana Luterana (Haitian Lutheran Church) ubicada en 1020 South Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth, FL (entre la 10a Ave. South y 12 a Ave. South).

CONTACTO: Philippe "Bob" Louis Jeune, Presidente/CEO de HCUT (561 255-445/586-8054). Christine Jones, Gerente del Projecto de Participación del Votante del FLIC (561-900-5067).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

PBCEC monthly meeting this Monday, Aug. 4

Hey all you PBCECers,

Don't forget, our next meeting this monday, Aug. 4, 7pm at the Quaker Meeting house, 823 north A street, Lake Worth. Bring a snack to share.

As most of you know by now, this summer has been full of traveling and networking for me. Right now, i am writing from the Northeast Climate Confluence where we are brainstorming for building grassroots movements to address climate change and create disaster response networks, check it out :

There is also a Southern Climate Action Convergence coming up in Virginia, and we will have PBC folks there too:

But i will be home for the meeting this time, and i know i have a lot of catching up to do. So please come and help fill me in on local happenings..

If you have not been to meetings recently, please visit our website:
(remember, you can donate online thru paypal)

for real restoration and true sustainability,
panagioti tsolkas
PBCEC co-chair