The latest update for the extension of Suncoast Parkway 3 to continue north from SR44 up through Citrus County to parallel I-75 north past Jacksonville has been put on the back burner. FDOT will be concentrating on relieving traffic on I-75 by widening I-75 and making other improvements.
More information about upcoming meetings will be available on the project website at ww.i75relief.com Please direct any questions or comments to Hui Wei Shen, FDOT Project Manager, by phone at (850) 414-4911, or by email at Huiwei.Shen@dot.state.fl.us.
The Florida Channel has agreed with FDOT to videotape all remaining I-75 Relief Task Force meetings. FDOT is also negotiating for live-streaming the remaining Task Force meetings.
TUNE IN http://thefloridachannel.org/, and learn about this process that threatens our Florida.
Next I75 Relief Meeting
Task Force Meeting #7 is scheduled for Friday, August 12, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion (Auditorium), 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala, Florida 34470
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Homosassa Library, 4100 S. Grandmarch Ave., to update residents on two projects in the county.
The projects are improvements to U.S. 19 from Green Acres Street to West Jump Court, which are ongoing, and the forthcoming replacement of the Halls River Road Bridge.
There will be no formal presentation, but residents are invited to review project information and discuss the projects with FDOT staff. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like information about the projects, email the department at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the open house, contact John McShaffrey at 813-975-6930 or email@example.com.
Persons who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Chris Speese at 813-975-6405, 800-226-7220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at least seven days before the meeting.
(An action to protect us all)
Letter to the Editor
I was an attendee at the Public Forum on Sabal Trail November 21st.
As an attendee, I found the forum at the Unitarian Universalist Church, endorsed by the League of Women Voters, to be both educational and well-presented, and the event was well-attended. To read the Sabal Trail-perspective piece, in The Chronicle almost a week post-forum, you might believe speaker and attendee fears were unfounded. However, Spectra Energy, the parent company of Sabal Trail has an extremely bad safety record, with blowouts, leaks and explosions occurring far more often than Sabal Trail’s spokesperson admitted in the Sunday article, including an explosion in Pennsylvania last April and a huge blowout in The Arkansas River in 2015, among many other accidents and safety violations. The article covering the forum colored speakers and attendees as ill-informed worrywarts. As far as I could tell, no one from Sabal Trail attended the forum.
I have since learned that sinkholes and drilling blowouts have already occurred recently, in both Georgia and North Florida, video-documented by Sierra Club’s Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and John S. Quarterman, President, WWALS Watershed Coalition. A sinkhole opened at a Sabal Trail construction site in Suwannee County, near the Santa Fe River, on CR 49 between Branford and Live Oak (the site of the O’Brien, Hildreth Compressor Station) damaging at least the road there. And another well-documented Valdosta, Georgia area Withlacoochee River drilling blowout occurred as Sabal Trail was drilling under the river. Impossible events, according to Sabal Trail’s spokesperson. There are other documented incidents of wildlife and wetland destruction in the Hunter Creek region as the pipeline makes its way to South Florida for export. Forum attendees were not ill-informed worrywarts. They were well-educated concerned citizens.
There were numerous safety concerns raised about the STROM LNG export facility currently under construction in Crystal River, its close proximity to Seven Rivers Hospital, and what the disaster plan would be should an accident occur there. There were questions about the legality of land being taken through eminent domain for a product that is being shipped overseas, and not connected to a Florida Utility, many questions left hanging for lack of answers.
There are a few questions that beg answering about the wisdom involved in approving the Sabal Trail Pipeline:
1. We already have a brand new Florida Gas Transmission Line (FGT). Why do we need another private for-profit line that takes a shortcut over our fragile world-famous springs and river systems, with an unknown quantity for export and 5 planned export facilities?
2. The “Natural Gas” comes from the Marcellus Shale where countless people are having to abandon their homes, and their waterways are poisoned from fracking chemicals. People are getting sick and dying. What is the moral reason to approve such a project when clean solar is waiting for development?
3. Approving these projects ensures a commitment to burning more fracked methane-intense greenhouse gas for decades, at a time when the people are demanding clean solar energy, and Floridians just rejected the industry’s attempt to hoodwink us with amendment 1. So what is the reasoning behind the rush to climate chaos?
It’s all well and good that a for-profit company should try to sell the cost-benefit-analysis of a project in the interest of its investors, protected by force majeure. We the people, and our environment, however, are assured of paying the ultimate price into an indefinite future.
But the Fourth Estate is hopefully a neutral agency working in the interest of our precious Nature Coast, not solely towards the expansion of a new “Extreme Energy Coast.” Where is our representation? Harriet Heywood
Co-Coordinator, Trade Justice Alliance
Florida State Coordinator, People Demanding Action
Follow-up on Spectra Safety Violations:
35 Year Proclamation of CCC by BOCC Chair Ron Kitchen
October BOCC Service Proclamation for CCC Members, Native Plant Society,
Executive Director, Energy and Policy InstituteLast week, the Florida utility-backed anti-solar initiative officially launched their campaign to block solar leasing in the sunshine state with the confusing name, “Yes on 1 for the sun.” The utility-backed group running the initiative campaign, called the “Consumers for Smart Solar” has been funded by nearly $7 million in contributions from the investor-owned utilities and fossil fuel front groups to date. Energy & Policy Institute previously revealed that Consumers for Smart Solar is funded by utilities and front groups seeking to prevent changes to state law that would open the solar market in Florida and specifically allow third party solar leases. Third party solar accounted for 72 precent of residential solar installed across the country in 2014.
Instead, the utility-backed ballot initiative would continue to restrict the solar market in Florida by writing into the state constitution that homeowners and businesses cannot use third party solar leases. Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone writes: Key policies that have spurred a rooftop solar revolution elsewhere in America are absent or actually illegal in Florida. Unlike the majority of states, even Texas, Florida has no mandate to generate any portion of its electricity from renewable power. Worse, the state’s restrictive monopoly utility law forbids anyone but the power companies from buying and selling electricity. Landlords cannot sell power from solar panels to tenants. Popular solar leasing programs like those offered by SolarCity and Sunrun are outlawed. In the battle between the utilities and pro-clean energy advocates in Florida, the utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar drove up the cost of petition signatures in Florida, rendering a pro-solar ballot initiative (spearheaded by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) unable to raise enough funds to overcome the vast resources of the monopoly utility companies. The pro-solar initiative called “Floridians for Solar Choice” would have opened the market and removed restrictions on solar leasing. Rolling Stone reported, “utilities crushed the [pro-solar] Solar Choice campaign by spending it into submission. Qualifying an amendment for the ballot in Florida is onerous and expensive under the best of circumstances.”The Consumers for Smart Solar(bad) campaign also worked to confuse petition-signers by using the same language as the real pro-solar campaign. While gathering petition signatures, the utility-backed initiative would talk about “solar choice,” mirroring the name of the pro-solar ballot initiative, Floridians for Solar Choice (good). Now, with the utilities launching their ballot initiative as the “Yes on 1 for the sun” campaign, the misinformation continues. George Orwell noted in his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” that political speech serves to distort reality, saying “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible… Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness… the great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” The utility-backed ballot initiative is certainly insincere about it’s intentions - instead of “for the sun” the utilities are working to confuse voters and cement public policy that squashes the free market and eliminates competition coming from the distributed solar industry. Perhaps Florida should change it’s moniker from the “Sunshine State” to the “Investor-owned Utility State”, where citizens and businesses are simply not allowed to use the free market to generate their own power, because the monopoly utilities have enough funding and political power to keep it that way.
July 20th Candidate Forum
Bud Osborn and Pat Wade at CCC Welcome Table
Kate Betsko- President, League of Women Voters, Citrus County
Kate Betsko and John Wade honoring Senator Dean with plaque
Susan Gill, Supervisor of Elections
A “white paper” generated by Dan Hilliard and published by Kings Bay Springs Alliance, Inc. - for your quick consumption.
Kings Bay Springs Alliance, Inc., is asking that if you agree that addressing the damage done by turf fertilizer to our water systems is in order, and that the following would generally be in addition to the current ordinance, please email the county commissioner of your choice - or all five of them - and tell them it’s time to toughen up our residential fertilizer ordinance to save our water systems! (Note: agriculture is exempt)
1. Prohibit sales of turf fertilizer June thru September inclusive.
2. Prohibit the application of turf fertilizers during the same time frame with possible exception of golf courses.
3. Prohibit the use of turf fertilizers within 100' of any storm water drainage conveyance which will transmit runoff directly into any water body.
4. Prohibit the application of fast release turf fertilizer on any property adjacent to water bodies unless the shoreline is protected by swales to control runoff.
5. Incorporate a concurrent Florida Friendly Landscape ordinance which is consistent with state guidance and promotes the conversion of landscaping of residential and business properties for a specified but limited time (10 years?) by use of property tax incentives. The ordinance should be incorporated into the Citrus County LDC.
(This Petition is still active and needing signatures)
Tell DEP: Don't allow more toxic fracking chemicals in Florida's water
Petition to Florida Department of Environmental Protection:
"Protect Florida's water. Don't weaken standards to allow more toxic chemicals in our state waters, including chemicals like benzene that are used in fracking."
Sign Petition You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.
According to reports this week from the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida officials are preparing to weaken restrictions on two dozen toxic chemicals in Florida’s water — including tripling the allowable level of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical used in Fracking.1
Thanks to public pushback, fracking still isn’t allowed in Florida, but the fracking industry is trying hard to change that. This plan to increase allowable benzene levels could be a backdoor attempt to help pave the way for fracking in the Sunshine State.2
As the Department of Environmental Protection considers these new standards, this is a vital moment for Floridians to speak out for the safety of their water.
Tell the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Protect Florida’s water. Don’t weaken toxic standards that could pave the way for fracking.
While officials at the Department of Environmental Protection claim increasing benzene levels has nothing to do with fracking, it’s hard to take them at their word given the recent actions of the fracking industry in Florida.
After the oil and gas industry gave at least $443,000 to top Republicans in the legislature, the Florida house voted in February to pass a bill that would open the door to fracking, preempt local fracking bans, and provide exemptions for companies to avoid disclosing what chemicals they’re using.
Thanks to an outcry from Floridians, including nearly 10,000 CREDO Activists, the bill died in the state Senate. But we know the industry is not done — and we can’t let weakening toxics standards open the door for endangering Florida’s precious water with toxic fracking in fragile ecosystems.
With 90 percent of Floridians relying on groundwater aquifers for their drinking water, increasing levels of toxic contaminants is dangerous. And with the state so vulnerable to impacts from a heating planet, any attempt to expand fossil fuels and fracking should be a non-starter. Tell the Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Protect Florida’s water. Don’t weaken toxic standards that could pave the way for fracking.