For Immediate Release: September 15, 2008
Palm Beach County, FL – At 10am September 20, protesters from across South Florida will gather near the construction site of Florida Power & Light's West County Energy Center (WCEC), which is a 3800 megawatt fossil fuel power plant being constructed across the street from the functional headwaters of the northern Everglades ecosystem. The rally is to take place at STA-1E (past Lion Country Safari on Southern Blvd). This is the same location as the February action organized by Everglades Earth First!, which was received by a Sheriff road block of Southern Boulevard and the arrest of 26 peaceful protesters, many of whom still await court resolutions.
The newly-formed Everglades Environmental Coalition hopes to inform and involve the community in the ongoing permit process of FPL's West County Energy Center, including the plan's operating permit for injection their wastewater into the aquifer. The group claims that the entire process has been driven by corruption, profit and corporate interest at the expense of this unique ecosystem and all those who rely on it. The WCEC is under construction on a site which also houses a CERP project intended to improve the federally designated Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee River to the north and the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge to the south.
Organizers for the rally say that it will be a family-friendly event, intending to continue coalition building and outreach around what organizer Russell McSpadden has called "Everglades justice", which he says is "under threat due to the disregard that FPL has shown for Everglades Restoration by building what will be the largest fossil fuel power plant in the entire US, less than 1000 feet from a national wildlife refuge." He also argues that FPL has equally shown disrespect to the people of South Florida.
"South Floridians know the Everglades as a place of irreplaceable beauty, but also depend on it as our source of fresh drinking water. FPL will both pollute and overuse water from the Everglades watershed endangering humans as well as wildlife" says McSpadden.
According to another organizer, Ana Rodriguez, "we will rally and protest to demand a full environmental impact statement, which FPL has failed to provide, concerning the cumulative harm that the plant will cause to the Everglades and surrounding communities. It is as much a health hazard to residents of South Florida as it is an environmentally damaging project."
The WCEC site is awaiting an emergency hearing on a motion for injunction filed by the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition in Federal Court.
The rally is organized by activists from the Everglades Environmental Coalition, which is supported by various grassroots groups including:
Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (www.pbcec.blogspot.com),
Save It Now Glades! (www.saveitnowglades.org),
Sierra Student Coalition, Boca FAU (www.SSC.org),
Everglades Earth First! (www.evergladesearthfirst.org),
Central Florida Earth First!;
and Lake Worth Bike Coop (www.myspace.com/lakeworthbikecoop)
Organizers from the Lake Worth Bike Coop are hosting an 18 mile ride to the rally in support with the environmental organizations.
The coalition grassroots environmental activists are inviting the public and the media to help them record, monitor and prevent the police department's efforts to suppress their freedom of speech and their rights to peaceful assembly.
For technical details of WCEC or the Gulfstream Pipeline: www.RiverofGas.info