Category Archives: Law

Nestle water withdrawal on SRWMD agenda; staff in favor 2020-08-11

Nestlé water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs next to the Santa Fe River is back on the SRWMD agenda for Tuesday morning, with staff in favor this time. Please speak up now!

[Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020]
Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020
PDF

That’s 9AM, Tuesday, August 11, 2020, online only; see below for how. As near as I can tell, the main difference is the withdrawal request is reduced by 14.58% from 1.1520 million gallons/day to 0.9840 MGD. I still don’t see why a Swiss company should profit from sucking up Floridan Aquifer water to sell us back plastic bottles that we then have to clean up from springs and rivers.

If you don’t think a 14.58% reduction is enough, you can still Continue reading

Video: Final Deadline Today, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols Radio 2020-07-21

Steve Nichols helped remind everyone on the radio this morning that the last chance to send in a song is tonight at midnight, through this form:
https://forms.gle/buQjC4e6oEKDoc537

We also talked about water quality testing (including a grant by Georgia Power), water trails, outings, hats, contacting Georgia Governor Kemp about that titanium mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp, and what is Suwannee Riverkeper, anyway?

You can listen to it all in the facebook video by The Morning Drive with Steve Nichols, starting at 2:34:35.

[Georgia Beer Co.]
Georgia Beer Co.

Thanks again to our top-tier sponsor of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Georgia Beer Co. Continue reading

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

FERC rejects NERA petition for FERC control of solar net metering 2020-07-16

FERC did the right thing! All four FERC Commissioners voted to dismiss a petition to have FERC take over from states decisions on rates utilities pay for rooftop solar electricity.

It’s true they dismissed it on procedural grounds without much addressing the substance of the matter, and that may lead to assorted District Court decisions, as one of the concurring Commissioners noted. But dismissing it for any reason is much better than granting the petition.

It just goes to show even the most regulatorily-captured agency can be right occasionally.

[Photo: Carl Howe, 335W SunPower solar panels in Massachusetts, 28 February 2014]
Photo: Carl Howe, 335W SunPower solar panels in Massachusetts, 28 February 2014

FERC Dismissal of NERA Petition

FERC Accession Number: 20200716-3099, Order Dismissing Petition for Declaratory Order re New England Ratepayers Association under EL20-42. Commissioner McNamee is concurring with a separate statement attached. Commissioner Danly is concurring with a separate statement attached.; see PDF.

WWALS Motion to Intervene and to Deny

Among the almost 50,000 comments on FERC Docket No. EL20-42-000, seven organizations filed to intervene with “motions to dismiss or deny.” WWALS was one of those seven, with FERC Accession Number: 20200615-5329, Motion to Intervene, Comments and Motion to Deny by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. under EL20-42; see PDF.

We never published the WWALS motion comment, so here it is. Continue reading

Thanks for helping defeat GA HB 545 Right to Harm bill

After an amendment in the Georgia Senate that made it not quite as bad, HB 545 stalled in the House, and time ran out in the Georgia legislature.

So thank you, all who helped defeat this bad bill that would have made it easier for North Carolina-style industrial hog farms to move into Georgia.

That includes voters in Georgia, and anybody from Florida who helped. As we all know, contamination getting into rivers in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia often runs downstream into Florida.

Tomahawk Creek Breach
Waterkeeper Alliance, 20 September 2018, Waterkeepers Identify Multiple CAFO and Coal Ash Spills Following Hurricane Florence

Jessica Szilagyl, AllOnGeorgia, 1 July 2020, Ga Legislature Fails to Give Final Passage to Ag Nuisance/‘Right to Farm’ Bill,

A lobbyist-backed initiative endorsed by the Georgia Farm Bureau that placed rural Georgians in a duel of private property rights against farm protections failed to cross the finish line before the Georgia General Assembly adjourned for the year.

House Bill 545, donned the ‘Right to Farm’ bill, was revised a number of times before the final day of the 2019-2020 legislative session, but lawmakers could not negotiate the measure to a point of consensus in order to change the law.

There’s more detail in the story.

Brief version: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The existing law was not broken, and now the bad fake fix has been defeated.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Central Florida Water Initiative Rulemaking Workshop 2020-07-09

Whatever happens in this workshop will no doubt be used as a precedent later for rules affecting the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020]
CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020
PDF

The three water management districts not named in that announcement are Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

SRWMD is not among the three. But remember, SJRWMD and SRWMD in 2017 jointly approved a North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan back in 2017.

Text of the Notice

Continue reading

Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18

Columbia County Attorney Joel Foreman sent a copy of this ordinance (see PDF) within minutes of being asked, along with this explanation:

Attached is the version of the Ordinance that was signed. The amendment was made at adoption to 78-3(B), adding that the Board would approve any supplemental rules by resolution.

Columbia County, FL BOCC Special Called Meeting 2020-06-18

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson posted the below explanation on facebook (reposted here with permission): Continue reading

Clean Waterways Act won’t fix water quality –Waterkeepers Florida 2020-07-01

Plus FL SB 712 still doesn’t fund or implement regular, frequent, water quality monitoring from the state line to the Gulf, like Valdosta, GA, is doing three times weekly on 40 miles of the Withlacoochee River to the state line.

Jen Lomberk, Orlando Sentinel, 1 July 2020, Clean Waterways Act won’t fix water quality,

[Orlando Sentinel screenshot]
Orlando Sentinel screenshot

Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed into law SB 712 — the self-proclaimed “Clean Waterways Act” — an ambitious misnomer for a bill that claims to be the solution to our mounting water quality issues, but falls far short of that mark.

This bill has been praised by its supporters (”Sen. Mayfield: Clean Waterways Act would be major step forward,” June 30 online) as one of the most environmentally progressive pieces of legislation in over a decade. But looking back at the cuts and rollbacks that our environmental regulations were subjected to under the last state administration, that really isn’t saying much. Jen Lomberk Jen Lomberk (Courtesy photo)

At 111 pages, the bill largely pays lip service to most of Florida’s major sources of pollution, but lacks the specificity and enforceability to actually solve any of the problems.

Proponents of the bill claim that it implements recommendations of the Blue Green Algae Task Force, but even those common sense, albeit vague recommendations will not be nearly achieved through the implementation of SB 712. For example, the Task Force recommended that projected changes in demographics, land use, and hydrology should be incorporated into the BMAP process.

Think about it. We have 1,000 people moving to our state every day. That means that over the 20-year life of a BMAP, millions of people will have Continue reading

Sewer line repair between manholes, Bevel Creek Lift Station @ LCC 2020-06-22

Lowndes County is fixing the June 8, 2020, sinkhole at the Bevel Creek Lift Station in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone, with $82,000.00 to replace two manholes, to discuss at its Work Session 8:30 AM Monday morning, with voting at its 5:30 PM Regular Session Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

The county’s agenda sheet says:

Due to extensive flooding and undermining, the manhole before Bevel Creek lift station collapsed on June 8, 2020 creating an emergency situation. After accessing the problem it was determined the most feasible and economical method of repair was to replace two manholes and redirect the flow. RPI Underground submitted a quote not to exceed $82,000 to make the repairs. Staff recommends approval of the Bevel Creek manhole emergency repair by RPI Underground not to exceed $82,000.00.

Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.
Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.

Continue reading

Rum Island absorbed within Columbia County Park Ordinance: BOCC vote 2020-06-18

Update 2020-07-03: As amended and passed, Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18.

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 18, new rules for Rum Island Park will be voted on by the Columbia County BOCC. This park with its public boat ramp is a popular access to the Santa Fe River and its springs.

[Cover Sheet]
Cover Sheet

At the previous meeting in which they scheduled this meeting, Columbia County Commissioners were heard complaining about kayak and canoe outfitters being some sort of problem.

June 4, 2020, Columbia, County, FL, BOCC Regular Session video

The greatly expanded definitions in the ordinance add permits, with a limit of a total of four permits for “regular commercial uses of parks or recreational facilities”. It’s not clear what “uses” means. Does that include dropping off customers at a public boat ramp? Parking outfitter vehicles? Other?

Presumably issuing permits for fees will affect later budgets. Note that the agenda sheet only says “This item has no effect on the current budget.”

You can comment if you attend, or you can send email beforehand; see below.

WWALS has no official position, although we will send a letter asking the BOCC to be sure such permits don’t interfere with Sec. 78-6(C):

“(C) Boats, including human-powered craft and boats of common horsepower motors, shall be allowed.”

So far as I know, Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) also has no official position.

When: 5:30 PM, Thursday, June 18, 2020

Where: Columbia County School Board Administrative Complex Auditorium, 372 West Duval Street, Lake City, Florida 32055

What: Special called meeting of the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners

Purpose: To adopt a Rum Island Park Ordinance within a broad Columbia County Park Ordinance that includes all of the recreational holdings of the county.

To comment: Attend in person. Or send email to:
To: Board Secretary Penny Stanley <penny_stanley@columbiacountyfla.com>
Cc: County Attorney Joel Foreman <jforeman@columbiacountyfla.com>
Subject: Columbia County BOCC Park Ordinance

Thanks to Continue reading