Sunday, August 30, 2009

Take Action Oct 12-16: Global Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and the Peoples

On May 31, the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples Abya Yala ("America") called for a Global Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and the Peoples from OCTOBER 12-16, 2009, "against [pollution], the commercialization of life ... and the criminalization of indigenous and social movements."

Root Force is supporting this call and encouraging people throughout the Americas and across the world to answer it with actions targeting the infrastructure of global trade. Infrastructure expansion projects such as roads, highways, air/sea ports, dams, power plants, pipelines and power and telecommunications cables form the front lines of the assault on indigenous peoples and the Earth. They are the backbone of the system that is killing our planet and enslaving its people.

For more information about the call to action and why we think infrastructure projects are appropriate targets, see below.

For help planning and publicizing actions, contact Root Force: rootforce [at] riseup [dot] net. You can find direct action, strategy and messaging resources here:

Send action reports to rootforce [at] riseup [dot] net. If you can't pull together a direct action, consider events raising anti infrastructure awareness.


On May 31, the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples Abya Yala issued a closing declaration resolving, among other things:

"To proclaim that we are witnessing a deep crisis of the Western capitalist civilization overlapping the environmental, energy and cultural crisis, social exclusion, and famines, as an expression of the failure of Eurocentrism and the colonialist Modernity that was born from ethnocide and which is now carrying all of humanity to its own slaughter.

"To offer an alternative lifestyle against the civilization of death, rescuing our roots in order to project ourselves to our future, with our principles and practices of balance between men, women, Mother Earth, spiritual beings, cultures and peoples, all of which we call Good Living / Living Well. We are a diversity of thousands of civilizations with over 40 thousand years of history, which were invaded and colonized by those who, just five centuries later, are leading us to planetary suicide. ...

"To confirm the organization of the ... Global Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and the Peoples, against the commercialization of life (including land, forests, water, sea, agrofuels, external debt), pollution (extractive transnationals, international financial institutions, GMOs, pesticides, toxic consumption), and the criminalization of indigenous and social movements, to be held from October 12 to 16, 2009."

Read the full declaration here:


There are three primary reasons to target infrastructure as a way to defend the Earth and indigenous peoples.

1. Infrastructure projects devastate ecologies and communities, whether it's the massive fish kills caused by dams and oil spills, the stripped land and poisoned air left by highways and mines, or the dislocation of poor, rural and indigenous peoples caused every time a new dam, road, mine or power plant moves in.

2. Infrastructure projects facilitate further exploitation above and beyond their immediate effects: a road brings loggers and missionaries; a power plant brings industry and sprawl.

3. Infrastructure forms the physical basis of the global economic system-- a system that is killing our planet, that cannot function without the continued dispossession of indigenous land and destruction of Earth-based

This civilization will not change its genocidal and ecocidal trajectory willingly, and the Earth cannot be saved by half measures. The system must come down, and its reliance on infrastructure -- especially the infrastructure of trade -- is one of its greatest weaknesses.


Taking down the system by fighting infrastructure expansion:

Infrastructure and indigenous sovereignty:

Infrastructure and the environment:

More infrastructure fact sheets (labor, global warming, etc.):

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To the Florida PSC, regarding proposed FPL pipeline and rate increase

[This letter is a modified version of a 'Motion to Intervene' PBCEC filed on several fossil fuel power plants proposed for south Florida. They were rubber stamped by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2008 without a local public hearing. We want to express our sincere gratitude to the Florida Alliance for a Clean Environment for their support in filing grassroots interventions, as we borrowed several of their points for our letters.]

FPL Pipeline Docket 090172 and FPL rate increase Docket No. 080677-EI

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition opposes FPL ‘s proposed a $1.6 billion 280-mile fossil fuel (gas) pipeline across Florida, as well as the proposed $1.3 billion proposed rate increase.

We contend that when compared to other options and strategies the 280-mile FPL pipeline proposals poses an extended period of economic risk that is unreasonable and diminishes the economic well being of FPL's Florida customers now and in the future. Therefore, we request that the project be denied, pending more complete assessment of available energy options, updated growth projections and accurate complete environmental costs of burning fossil fuels.

The proposed projects do not meet the needs criteria established by the State of Florida in FS403.519(4) which require the project contribute to FPL's power system's reliability and integrity, it's fuel diversity, base load generation capacity, and its effort to deliver adequate electricity at a reasonable cost. That it continues to be a viable option after any renewable energy sources and technologies or conservation measures that may be taken or are reasonably available to FPL that might mitigate the need for the proposed fossil fuel transmission projects has been considered, while also providing the most cost effective source of power.

Florida’s electrical power grid is already over 70% dependent on gas-powered generation.

It is our contention that every dollar of FPL rate payer money proposed to be spent on the proposed fossil fuel power project could be better spent on efficiency, conservation and renewables; financing programs that may include new or expanded DSM programs, leveraging through cost sharing the expansion of net metering / distributive energy programs. The integration of solar thermal and geothermal applications can mitigate peak load. The more efficient use of the existing base load can eliminate the need for new base load capacity.

We also see a slowing of growth in Florida that calls into question the proponent's projection for need. New building design criteria is also intended to reduce the need for new fossil fuel and transmission.

We, the PBCEC, are in agreement with the report from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC, or 'Council') regarding expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. A was approved and authorized to be transmitted to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on May 16, 2008, at the public Council meeting. This report found FPL to be "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." The TCRPC urged FPL and the State of Florida to continue developing new programs "to 1) reduce the reliance on fossil fuels as future energy sources; 2) increase conservation activities to offset the need to construct new power plants; and 3) increase the reliance on renewable energy sources to produce electricity."

It is our belief, based on our research and the reports of the State of Florida’s TCRPC, that the projected cost of this proposal as alleged by FPL does not represent an accurate assessment of the actual costs of the project. Future costs attributed to CO2 are not taken into consideration in a tangible and concrete manner and environmental and health cost impacts associated with drilling and extraction are not mentioned. The availability and cost of water need also to be considered.

We believe that the reality of greenwashing must be taken into serious consideration when reviewing this pipeline proposal. "Greenwash" (a portmanteau of green and whitewash) is a term that is used to describe the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. The term Green sheen has similarly been used to describe organizations which attempt to appear that they are adopting practices beneficial to the environment.

While FPL's self-promotion reads, unsurprisingly, like an advertisement for their highly-profitable product. Independent, public
interest assessments of their proposals, such as that of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC), reads quite differently.

The Council recommended that "FPL should develop a program to install, own and operate photovoltaic units on the rooftops of private and public buildings... modeled after the Southern California Edison plans" where a utility will plans to install solar energy on more than 100 buildings in the greater Los Angeles area. TCRPC suggests that:

"shift[ing] to rooftop photovoltaic systems distributed throughout the area of demand could reduce the reliance on large transmission lines and reduce costs associated with owning property; purchasing fuel [and water]; and permitting, constructing, and maintaining a power plant."

This above-mentioned technology is available now, and is underway in other parts of the United States.

The TCRPC report also suggests the partnering of offshore wind and ocean current generation. PBCEC believes these options, which are under development now, could be available in a hastened time frame if non-renewable conventional fuels sources were not pursued in this crucial decade, which has been acknowledged by global climate scientists to within the tipping point of irreversible climate change.

In media releases, FPL has claimed that this so-called ‘EnergySecure line’ before the PSC will reduce CO2 emissions by millions of tons over the life of its operations. But the critical eye of public interest, and public agencies that are tasked to work in its service, must also note that the project will facilitate emissions surpassing that amount on an annual basis for the duration of their operations. 'Reduction' standards must not be in the eye-of-the-profiteer. They must be concrete and tangible, measured in observance of the evolving climate science of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other reputable scientific bodies.

The PBCEC is concerned that FPL's current agenda is not as economically sound or environmentally friendly as their public
relations would have us believe. In a letter-to-the-editor published in the Palm Beach Post following an annual FPL shareholders meeting, entitled, ironically "Conservation a top priority for industry leader FPL", Company president Armando Olivera explains FPL's perspective:

"Over-reliance on conservation to meet our needs will leave customers vulnerable to higher rates and decreased reliability."

In the face of clean, renewable energy options and efficiency and conservation opportunities, this attitude can only be seen as a threat to its customers and a leash to centralized non-renewable, unsustainable power for our FPL ratepayers in the PBCEC.

FPL’s proposed rate increases (Docket No. 080677-EI) which accompany the expansion of out-dated fossil fuel expansion and fortification of a centralized energy grid show that their priority is in maximizing company profits in violation of Florida State Statutes intend to protect the people.

We expect the Public Service Commission to follow your lawful mandate to protect our interests. Surprise us.

Most sincerely,
Panagioti Tsolkas
Co-Chair, Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
s/panagioti tsolkas 8/26/09

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stephanie McMillan's CODE GREEN comics

"Outside" by Stephanie McMillan
August 3rd, 2009

"Marketing" by Stephanie McMillan
August 10th, 2009

Check out South Florida artist Stephanie McMillan's new Code Green series, updated every Monday. If you print a publication or 'zine, contact Stephanie about using her art to spread the message of the environmental emergency surrounding us:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Leaked memo: Big Oil manufacturing ‘Energy Citizen’ rallies to oppose clean energy reform.

The American oil industry, working with a coalition of business interests, plans to manufacture rallies in opposition to clean energy reform, an internal document reveals. According to the plan acquired by Greenpeace, the American Petroleum Institute (API) will “coordinate transportation” for oil industry employees to “Energy Citizen” rallies targeting U.S. Senators in 21 states. The document’s author, API president Leo Gerard, discusses how it is “important that our views” supplant “constituents’ views”:

The objective of these rallies is to put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy and to aim a loud message at those states’ U.S. Senators to avoid the mistakes embodied in the House climate bill and the Obama Administration’s tax increases on our industry. Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid reportedly has pushed back consideration of climate legislation to late September to allow Senators time to get their constituents’ views during the August recess. It’s important that our views be heard.

API’s membership, which includes ExxonMobil, GE, and Halliburton, will join “allies from a broad range of interests: the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturing, the trucking industry, the agricultural sector, small business, and many others” to create these Astroturf [aka fake grassroots] rallies to protect their dirty energy profits at the expense of the planet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Everglades land swap may be key to FPL expansion plans

Everglades and FPL managers are evaluating a compromise so the power company can add much-needed transmission lines in West Miami-Dade.


Florida Power & Light bought a ribbon of Everglades marl prairie 40 years ago, envisioning it as an isolated place to some day run power lines.

Some day has come. FPL has filed for state permits to run three high-voltage power lines along the 7.4-mile strip.

But the surrounding land has long since been absorbed by an expansion of Everglades National Park, a federally protected wilderness where towers topping 140 feet and lines buzzing with 500 kilovolts are officially frowned upon.

Under orders from Congress, park managers are now evaluating a compromise: a land swap with FPL that would push the power corridor, now three miles west of Krome Avenue in the footprint of a critical park restoration project, to the park's eastern boundary.

For FPL, securing a western corridor for power lines is crucial, not only to handle projected population growth in Miami-Dade but also to move additional juice from the utility's planned expansion of its Turkey Point nuclear power plant. The company, already battling concerns from residents and politicians from Cutler Bay to Coconut Grove over a second proposed 230-kilovolt route up a long swath of U.S. 1, supports the swap.

''For FPL, it provides the necessary land, albeit smaller and closer to developed areas, in which to expand its electrical facilities to meet its obligation to provide reliable electric service to its customers in South Florida,'' said FPL spokesman Mayco VillafaƱa in an e-mail.

For the park, the existing corridor would complicate and potentially hinder a critical part of the massive Everglades restoration effort -- bridging Tamiami Trail to flow more water down the Northeast Shark River Slough, the park's historic and long parched headwaters.

''As long as those lands are there, there is a problem in terms of moving water to the south,'' said Dan Kimball, superintendent of Everglades National Park.

The land, only as wide as a football field, amounts to just 320 acres in the 1.5 million-acre park. But FPL would have to fill in wetlands to build bases to anchor the towers and an access road for maintainence. Towers and power lines stretching more than seven miles wouldn't exactly add to the vista, either.


Some environmentalists argue the massive transmissions lines don't belong in or along the border of a national park.

Sara Fain, Everglades program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said cutting a deal with the utility would set a bad precedent for handling disputes over private holdings in national parks.

''There isn't one solution, swap the land or not,'' she said. ``There is another solution. Buy the land.''

One potential alternative the park is considering is to acquire the land, by buying or condemning it, said Brien Culhane, the park's chief of planning and environmental compliance for the National Park Service.

But either option could be expensive and require time-consuming legal wrangling. FPL had discussed a land purchase for more than a decade, Kimball said. ``We couldn't agree on the terms of acquisition.''

FPL, which contends it must add power lines to improve the electrical grid and get power to growing areas, is seeking four new routes in Miami-Dade between 2012 and 2016. It has already filed permit requests for both Glades routes with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

VillafaƱa said the trade would benefit the park and utility, adding 60 acres to the park and removing a restoration concern. In exchange for its 320-acre strip, FPL would take over a 230-acre strip with a 90-foot easement along L31-North canal, making for easier worker access.

If the park accepts the swap, it would clear the way for easy state approval for FPL. A decision, Culhane said, is expected by January. If it rejects it, the utility could be facing another difficult fight to run lines closer to suburbia in western Dade -- perhaps along Krome Avenue.


The land swap was added to a massive spending bill Congress approved in March and was supported by both Florida senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mel Martinez.

But the clause, which passed through no committee reviews, explicitly left the final call to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who oversees federal land.

It also conflicts with the congressional language supporting the park's 1989 expansion, which explicitly called power lines an incompatible use.

This time, said the park's Culhane, ``Congress authorized but did not mandate that we do an exchange. It's not a directive.''

Similar stories:
Coalition focuses on FPL plan for new U.S. 1 transmission line

A group of municipal leaders in South Miami-Dade County have banded together to discuss their concerns about the future of the U.S. 1 corridor.

Transportation and future development are their core issues.

But lately, the group, known as the South Dade Coalition, has focused on Florida Power & Light's plan to install a 230-kV transmission line along a long swath of U.S. 1 and the adjacent busway to improve the electric grid and meet future energy demands. The eastern route would connect the Turkey Point nuclear power station, located east of Homestead to a substation between Southwest First and Second avenues on the north side of the Miami River.

FPL's power-line plan in South Miami-Dade faces opposition

When Elizabeth Gonzalez wanted to protest against Florida Power & Light's plan to install new high-voltage transmission lines in South Miami, she turned to Facebook.

She created a group, ''Residents against FPL transmission lines,'' and provided links to FPL's project website.

In Coral Gables, Sharon Watson e-mailed and spoke to parents and students at Coral Gables Senior High School about the power lines weeks before the City Commission decided to hire a consultant in April to study how they would affect residents.

FPL power line proposal sparks concerns

When state regulators came to Coconut Grove Thursday night to hear from customers about Florida Power & Light's proposal to hike its base rates, they got an earful from residents and elected officials about something else: FPL's planned high-voltage transmission lines running along U.S. 1.

''If customers pay more, they should see a benefit,'' said Pinecrest Village Council Member Bob Ross. ``Undergrounding the power lines would be a place to start.''

The Florida Public Service Commission regulates most of Florida's electric utilities. The commission held hearings about FPL's rate proposal Thursday at the Miami Science Museum in Coconut Grove and the Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale. It held hearings Friday at the North Dade Regional Library and in Plantation.