Tag Archives: everglades law center

Seminole Tribe of Florida fights FPL proposal; Sierra Club beats rock mine in the Everglades

4 Aug

A night time view from the recently-built power plant in Loxahatchee, which the Hendry proposal has been compared to by FPL, explaining how "low profile" it will be

By Earth First! Journal

In a recent legal challenge to Hendry County’s approval of re-zoning land for a newly proposed FPL power plant in primary panther habitat, attorneys with the Seminole Tribe of Florida demanded a Writ of Certiorari quashing the County Ordinance which gave preliminary approval for the plan. The following are excerpts from the legal challenge, filed earlier this summer: 

The approved use is not compatible with the longstanding and continuing uses of the Big Cypress Reservation, which is adjacent to the rezoned property… Given the flow characteristics of the area, such an analysis is critical in determining the compatibility of the rezoning with adjacent land uses on the Big Cypress Reservation. The extreme groundwater withdrawals necessary to support the project will diminish the hydrological functions of the floodplain and will impair important biological and ecological functions of the floodplain, thereby endangering the residents and use of the Big Cypress Reservation…

While the Seminole Tribe brought these issues to the attention of the County prior to the adoption of the rezoning, no analysis of the compatibility of the approved project with the Big Cypress Reservation was ever conducted and no finding of compatibility was ever made that was supported by competent and substantial evidence. In fact, the County’s Planning and Zoning Department’s Staff Report failed to even mention the Seminole Tribe or the Big Cypress Reservation in its discussion of the Power Plant’s compatibility with the surrounding areas…

As acknowledged by the County, the proposed Power Plant has “significant” water demands… The impacts of this significant water demand have also not been analyzed with respect to the Seminole Tribe’s own water rights pursuant to the Water Rights Compact Among the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the State of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District…

The Seminole Tribe of Florida also has federally recognized usual and customary use rights within the Big Cypress National Preserve and Addition Lands that will be negatively impacted by drawdown associated with the proposed project…

The record evidences that the proposed Power Plant cannot be accommodated on the 3,127 acre rezoned property and will depend upon consuming the water resources from numerous wells on surrounding property outside of the rezoned site…

On July 20th, the court accepted the Tribe’s petition and ordered the County to explain its approval. Let’s hope that the Seminole Tribe’s legal challenge can end this nightmare, for the Tribe and the Florida panther, before it gets any further.

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In other victorious paper-wrenching news from the Everglades

A Palm Beach Post article yesterday reported the defeat of a rock mine approved by Palm Beach County, in a favorable ruling from the Fourth Disctrct Court of Appeals. From the Post:

In a decision that environmentalists say could affect the future of rock mining in the county’s rural western area, the court ruled the 470-acre expansion planned by Bergeron Sand and Rock Mine Aggregates did not meet criteria spelled out in the county’s comprehensive plan—a long-term blueprint for growth and development.

“Mining in the EAA has been a major Everglades issue for several years now,” said Richard Grosso, a pro bono attorney for the Everglades Law Center. “We are obviously happy to win the case, but frustrated that, at every turn in the last several years, the county commission goes and decides against Everglades restoration and for industry. At some point, we are hoping that the county will change its approach in order to start giving the benefit of the doubt to the Everglades.”

In all, the environmental groups 1000 Friends of Florida and the Sierra Club have filed legal challenges against three county mining approvals, including the Bergeron expansion. Two cases are still pending.

The attorneys who filed the successful appeal against the rock mine cited that it was affidavits of the activists who were at the public hearings that were able to secure standing and result in this victory. So for all you out there that have sat through long, boring, infuriating public hearings (or Sierra Club meetings for that matter), sometimes its worth a damn…

But usually not. So get back out in the streets, and swamps, already! Geez!! a few small victories and you people start getting lazy. Lest we forget, we have an entire civilizations to dismantle, and it seems unlikely that the appeal will be in our favor on that one.

Everglades Earth First! shuttin' down business as usual at an FPL power plant AND rock mine in the Everglades Agricultural Area, Feb, 2008.

Groups successful in raising concerns with proposed FPL new nuclear reactors in Florida: Federal licensing board admits arguments

16 Mar

Florida Power & Light's Turkey Point Nuke Plant near Everglades

Miami, Fla. – The future of new nuclear reactors in Florida hit another stumbling block as concerned citizens and public interest organizations in Florida had a significant, initial victory in their legal effort to prevent two more costly new nuclear reactors from being built at Florida Power & Light’s existing Turkey Point plant adjacent to Biscayne Bay, Biscayne National Park and the Everglades, about 25 miles from Miami. There is a state-managed aquatic preserve, an expansive wetlands habitat preserve, two national parks and one national wildlife refuge within six miles of the proposed site. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s three-judge panel recently admitted some of the groups’ arguments but rejected many other serious environmental and public health issues the expansion poses.

“One would be hard pressed to find a less compatible and more ecologically sensitive location in which to expand a nuclear power plant than at Turkey Point,” said Jason Totoiu, the Everglades Law Center’s General Counsel. “We are pleased the Board agreed with some of our arguments but their decision unfortunately overlooks the very real potential that a number of significant environmental impacts could result from this project.”

The Everglades Law Center and Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic filed the petition in August 2010 on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and private citizens from Miami. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) held a hearing in November in Homestead, Florida to hear the groups’ arguments.

At the November hearing, attorneys raised concerns about the impact the construction and operation of the proposed reactors could have on these imperiled places and communities located near the Turkey Point plant. The proposed use of millions of gallons of reclaimed water per day, that would otherwise be used for Everglades restoration, would come from the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department serving as the primary source of cooling water for the proposed new reactors. After use, FPL plans to discharge some of the reclaimed wastewater into the groundwater via underground injection wells. The ASLB admitted the organizations’ argument that Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Environmental Report failed to adequately address the impacts that underground injection of various chemical contaminants would have on groundwater supplies.

“We are very concerned about the injected wastewater laced with chemical and radioactive contaminants getting into our precious and limited drinking water supplies,” said Mark Oncavage, a resident of Miami and intervenor. “FPL’s proposal could be disastrous for the area.”

“The Boards ruling clearly recognizes that expanding Turkey Point would threaten the health of our citizens and national treasure Biscayne National Park,” said Kahlil Kettering, Biscayne Restoration Program Analyst for the National Parks Conservation Association and intervenor. “Biscayne already suffers from reduced freshwater flows and adjacent land development, adding an expanded nuclear power plant to the mix could send the park over the tipping point.”

The Board rejected other arguments, including FPL’s cursory treatment of the potential cumulative impacts of the project and FPL’s proposed plans to use radial collector wells underneath Biscayne Bay that could withdraw much needed fresh water from the system. Also rejected were concerns over the loss of several hundreds of acres of wetlands to accommodate miles of new transmission lines. FPL’s failure to fully evaluate other viable energy alternatives including energy efficiency and conservation along with renewable energy options and lack of planning for future potential sea level rise that would adversely impact the operations of the facility were also rejected.

“The Board really got it wrong regarding climate change and sea level rise,” said Captain Dan Kipnis, resident of Miami Beach and intervenor. “With scientists predicting up to three feet of water rise during the plant’s operating life, the whole premise of FPL’s site location appears shaky at best. This is an unbelievably bad idea and bad location to build more nuclear reactors that have a $20 billion price tag.”

Given the recent devastating impacts caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the damage to several nuclear reactors, this proposal reinforces concerns expressed by the organizations about the health risks and potential hazards that would be associated with expanding Turkey Point.

“The reality is that clean, safe energy options are available that won’t pose these serious risks to the community and the pocketbooks of hard-working Floridians,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “FPL has a long, long way to go, especially now in light of the disaster unfolding in Japan, and would serve their customers well by moving away from such a flawed proposal.”

Citizens Allied for Safe Energy, Inc. (CASE, Inc.) and the Village of Pinecrest filed separate petitions. The Board granted legal standing for both parties and accepted part of two contentions submitted by CASE, Inc. that deal with the storage and management on-site of so-called low level radioactive waste.

For more information on the intervening organizations and legal counsel, visit:

Everglades Law Center, http://www.evergladeslaw.org * National Parks Conservation Association- Sun Coast Regional Office, http://www.npca.org/southflorida * Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, http://www.cleanenergy.org * Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic, http://www.law.emory.edu/academics/academic-programs/environmental-law/turner-clinic.html

Download the August 17, 2010 petition at http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Testimony.html and the recent ASLB decision at http://www.cleanenergy.org/images/testimony/2011-02-28_TP_ASLBOrderContentionAdmissibility.pdf.

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