Thursday, October 23, 2008

DEP: Reinstate Oct 27 Administrative Hearing for FPL's WCEC Site Certification

To Mike Halpin, Mike Sole, and all others whom it concerns,

Canceling this hearing and refusing to send this issue to the Governor's Cabinet, which sits as the Power Plant Siting Board, is not a wise idea. There are undoubtedly outstanding issues with the West County Energy Center unit 3. You know that the public has been participating in the permitting process for this project as a whole since its beginning, for all 3 units, at practically every level possible. How could you, in clear conscience, push to deny the public access to participate in this publicly-noticed hearing?

You know that there are facts in dispute, as your agency has been central in these disputes. Below are some examples of this, most of which you should know by now:

The wastewater injection should be a part of the Site Certification and that an administrative petition was filed on Oct 6 2008 regarding a significant permit modification for WCEC unit 3.

FWC biologists testified in a Federal court proceeding, also Oct 6 2008, that they presented concerns regarding the cumulative impacts associated with the WCEC, which were ignored by both FWC and DEP in the power plant siting process.

Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council did NOT approve this project, presenting serious concerns and policy violations regarding the expansion of fossil fuel dependency, impacts to the Everglades and unrealized potential of renewable energy options, most of which were ignored.

There are multiple state and federal legal proceedings pending which address other concerns related to this Site Certification, related to wildlife, air and water quality, cumulative and secondary impacts, climate change, and criminal racketeering, to name a few.

This is the largest fossil fuel burning power plant under construction in the entire country and the first power plant in the state to use aquifer injection for it's industrial wastewater (into the same underground limestone system that much regional drinking water now comes from), it is 1000 feet from the northern public entrance of Everglades' functional headwaters--the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

The first two units will cause 6.5 billion gallons a year of water sucked from the ground water, lowering the water table and resulting in increased pine-tree die-off, wildfires, and impact to depressional wetlands in the region; if the third unit comes on line, it will be depriving the urban eastern corridor access to its regional re-use water and increasing the chances of upward migration of injected wastewater (due to differences in freshwater buoyancy).

The air emissions also presents a new source of pollution in the Everglades ecosystem through 'wet deposition', which has not yet been assessed.

The physical presence of the facility and its infrastructure will lessen the quality of and access to recreation in the Northeast Everglades restoration plans, including the Northeast Everglades Natural Area's Corbett--Loxahatchee Connector trail and the Loxahatchee Basin Reservoirs...

This is simply skimming the surface. None of these issues should be surprises to you. Nonetheless, they have not been taken into full consideration.

Whether it is through willful ignorance of agency staff, the applicant applying political pressure or a combination resulting in malfeasance, DEP's role with this power plant project appears to be a negligence which poses a threat to the public at large.

But it is not too late to abate many of these risks. I believe here are alternative possibilities that may be amenable to most, if not all, parties.

Seeing that the Monday hearing will not be reinstated, i invite you to meet with us on Monday the 27 at the regional DEP office in West Palm Beach to discuss some of these matters, and ensure that they are taken into consideration in the Final Order the Department is to issue. Hopefully other participating agencies will also be willing and able to join us, since we all had this day marked in our calendars anyway (please feel free to pass along this invite.)

Thanks for your attention and interest.
Look forward to seeing you Monday.

panagioti tsolkas

For background on this hearing, visit the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) site:

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