Category Archives: Law

Waterkeepers Florida for home rule, against state pre-emption of environmental ordinances 2020-02-14

On Friday, February 14, 2020, Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) passed this valentine in support of local environmental measures and in opposition to statewide pre-emption:

WKFL to take a position in opposition to state preemption of local governments’ ability to regulate local environmental protections, including, but not limited to, those related to Rights of Nature, single-use plastics or polystyrene, fertilizers, and sunscreens.

[Announce]
Announce

This motion was partly provoked by two bills in the Florida legislature right now that would pre-empt the rapidly growing Florida Rights of Nature movement. You can help stop the bad parts of those bills; follow the link.

But the motion goes beyond that, to other topics, and any pre-emption part of any bill.

Waterkeepers Florida represents all the Waterkeepers of Florida. Continue reading

EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31

The EPA took weeks to write to WWALS to confirm less than what it said in the January 8, 2019 meeting in Madison, Florida:


      220 years to fix? Need better oversight --Brannan, EPA
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, still from WWALS Video, Madison, Florida, of Carol L. Kemker, Director, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, and others.

In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has authority for establishing procedures for how permitted utilities are to respond during a major spill event. The EPA has delegated permitting authority to the state under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (NPDES). However, the EPA does maintain a state oversight role. After the sewage spill into the Withlacoochee, the EPA reached out to EPD to ensure the spill’s cause was properly addressed and notification procedures were followed. The EPA continues to work with EPD to reduce the possibility of future spills from Valdosta into the Withlacoochee River.

No detail was included in the EPA Region 4 letter to WWALS as to how the spill’s cause was to be addressed, or why notification procedures were the only other topic worth mentioning. EPA Region 4’s response says nothing about water quality testing, tracking procedures, alternative water supply, water well testing cost reimbursement, wildlife on land and water, underground plumes of contamination, or an educational campaign; all topics listed in the WWALS letter to which EPA is replying.

Apparently it took a week for the email I forwarded to EPA Region 4 on December 17th to get there on December 23, 2019. Then it took another month for EPA to send a paper reply letter in fancy packaging.

EPA also recommended: Continue reading

Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

The two days John Moran spent writing his talk paid off, along with the years of photographing what was and what is left of the waters of Florida. If you watch none of the rest of these videos from the Florida Bill of Rights for Nature, the three with John Moran’s talk are well worth your time.

John Moran

Below are links to each WWALS video. I didn’t video everything; mostly a few speakers whom I had told in advance.

Doug Shields explains how he got the Pittsburgh, PA, City Council to be the first in the U.S. to ban fracking, and how it spread from there, and what that has to do with Rights of Nature.

Chuck O’Neal of WEBOR explains the three ways you can get a Bill of Rights for Nature passed in a Florida County, and how he did it in, Orange County

As already posted, David Moritz explains the one that may have started it all in Florida, Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SaFEBoR).

You should be able to follow the demonstration of Tools not working for Florida’s environment even if you don’t know FDEP from a WMD, or if you’re familiar with a different state or country. The problems are the same everywhere: laws, agencies, and rules rigged against nature. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights for Nature, in each county, state, and country. Continue reading

Florida Rights of Nature Convention 2020-02-08

Update 2020-02-09: Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

What Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) started only nine months ago has blossomed into a dozen county or river Rights of Nature movements across the State of Florida.

David Moritz, SAFEBOR

Here is WWALS video of what David Moritz said about SAFEBOR. More will follow, especially of what John Moran said. Continue reading

Baker County, FL, resident responds to Charlton County, GA, about mine proposed near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-01-14

Mark Lyons, Charlton County Herald, January 14, 2020, Letter to the Editor: Response to City of Folkston, Development Authority,

Dear Editor,

I read with curiosity the Letter to the Editor from the City Council of Folkston and the Charlton County Development Commission giving their endorsement and support of the Twin Pines mining proposal. That letter raises so many questions. Where did these two boards obtain their scientific data that the mining would not affect the swamp and the environment? Much of the information offered in their letter appears to have been spoon fed to them directly from Twin Pines. There was no mention of where they obtained the scientific data that rendered such a strong endorsement that the mining will not harm the swamp or the environment. The letter did not mention any consultants or scientist who were hired by either of these two entities to inform them there wouldn’t be any environmental damage from the mining. How many scientist sit on the city board or the development council? Did the boards hire or consult any scientist at all? What was the name of the consulting firm either the city or the development board hired to supply them the scientific data that the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Where did the boards get their scientific data that gave them proof the mining would not harm the swamp and environment? Please, I would ask you to share such valuable data with the public.

Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS of Chemours mines in north Florida, looking west across Bradford County
Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS of Chemours mines in north Florida, looking west across Bradford County, on Southwings flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

How can anyone determine and say the mining will not affect the environment when Continue reading

Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-31: Cleaner at Okapilco and Piscola Creeks and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-29.

There was good news, but actual responsibility or accountability by Valdosta was hard to find, at the January 8, 2020, evening meeting of the Florida counties Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. It was attended by a record number of citizens from Florida and Georgia, many of whom were quite vocal. You can see it all in these WWALS videos.

The good news included stormwater infiltration into the sewer system reduced by 25%, faster remediation of manholes, and the long-awaited catch basin for the WWTP is permitted. Yes, Valdosta has battery or generator backup for its lift stations and the two Wastewater Treatment Plants.

Per incoming Mayor Scott James Matheson’s request, I repeatedly described the Mayor’s Paddle organized by WWALS, then upcoming on January 18th. It went well, and we got a lot of good press out of it. Yet not a single person from Valdosta Utilities, nor the City Manager, paddled with WWALS and the Mayor. Valdosta even refused to test the Withlacoochee River before their own Mayor paddled: “We did what we were required to do.”

The new Mayor, at this meeting one day before being inaugurated, said he had met with the city staff and was impressed, but expected to hold them accountable. Many of us look forward to that.

In response to a question by Valdosta resident Tom Potter about whether legal liability was tied to the contractor, Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta takes “full responsibility.” But practically in the same breath he added, “but not full financial responsibility,” passing that off to the contractor.

Even about who is on the list to be notified of a spill, Continue reading

How Florida can pick up slack from FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2020-01-15

Longtime WWALS member Cecile Scofield in TCPalm, January 15, 2020, Liquified natural gas needs regulation in Florida,

You and a friend decide to go into business together. You draft your business plan and delineate each person’s responsibilities for the operation. But what happens if one of you decides to shirk your assigned duties? Your business venture will be doomed to failure.

[WWALS LNG Export Map]
WWALS LNG Export Map
PDF

This is exactly what has happened with regulating a new breed of inland Liquefied Natural Gas export facilities in Florida. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlines each agency’s role in exercising regulatory authority over the siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of LNG facilities. See https://tinyurl.com/tdhxazn.

LNG facilities are regulated, in part, by Continue reading

No LNG by Rail Rule –WWALS to PHMSA 2020-01-13

One of seventeen reasons for PHMSA to reject its own proposed rule for LNG in rail tanker cars:

  • The solution to risks of leaks, wrecks, and explosions of LNG truck tankers is not to add another source of risk in LNG rail cars, no matter what design.

[FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville]
FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville

Many thanks to Maxine Connor and Cecile Scofield for comments, corrections, and additions of this WWALS comment, sent to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday, which was the deadline for comment on PHMSA Notice of Proposed Rulemanking (NPRM HM-264) Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, PHMSA Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0025.

Cecile also had already filed her own excellent comment. Both hers and this WWALS comment draw on a fascinatingly wrong and inadequate document Cecile previously obtained via FOIA: Continue reading

Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03.

Florida state Senator Bill Montford has scheduled “a meeting concerning the Valdosta sewage spill issue” this Wednesday afternoon, the same day and before the meeting of the Florida Counties Rivers Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. We have some questions (see below). You probably do too, and you can ask them at one or both of these Wednesday public meetings.

When: 1 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: Madison County University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office
184 Northwest College Loop, Madison, FL 32340

Event: facebook

Table, Committee

I have confirmed that this Madison meeting is a public meeting. The venue is small, but that’s no reason for the public not to come.

Sen. Montford held a Continue reading

Letter: Lowndes County, GA, Commission supports Troupville River Camp 2019-12-30

The county of the site of the proposed Troupville River Camp supports the project.

[Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.]
Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.
PDF

On behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.

Quality of life amenities are an integral component of economic development initiatives. The ability to provide a river park for citizens that could also serve as a destination for others is an amazing opportunity for our community. Further, programs proposed that will continue to protect one of South Georgia/North Florida’s most valuable natural resources should not be overlooked in the consideration of this application.

Lowndes County appreciates and admires the initiative demonstrated by WWALS Watershed Coalition. Those associated with the organization are both knowledgeable with regards to preservation and passionate about their mission.

Thank you again for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support of their efforts.

I had requested this letter at the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019. As I mentioned, Chairman Bill Slaughter was already familiar with the site. Continue reading