From the Chair – July Report


June is here already and summer is starting with these last two weeks of days with 96 F. and higher temperatures…What to do? Go to a beach, float down a spring, kayak in a river, or swim in a lake. If you are looking for a group outing, go to www.sierraclub.org and scroll on the outings list for Florida. Last time I checked, there was a good outing selection for this part of our state…Do you want to meet other Sierrans, then come to the SSJ Annual Picnic at Poe Springs, on Saturday, July 18, from 11:00 to 2:00pm. Come earlier to kayak or swim, or stay the afternoon. Come to have some cool time and maybe brainstorm on activities we could organize with our members and other local environmental groups.
If it’s too hot to go outside, then spend some time on the Sierra Club website. www.sierraclub.org and educate yourself on the many programs that our club is leading.

For your information, Sierra Club has a new President, Aaron Mair, the first African American to lead our club. Please read more here http://www.sierraclub.org/change.

It always makes me feel good to read the Sierra Club website, and it also energizes me to attend the Sierra Club Florida leaders meetings, held four times a year, generally in St Petersburg, where we have a Sierra Club office, with four staff members. By the way, these meetings are open to all members, and the next one will be on October 3rd at Eckerd College, in St Pete.

So I attended the first one in Miami in 1999, and thought then, this is a group of good people, committed to work for a better place to live…and I attended the last one on June 6, 2015. I want to share with you some of the notes I took, they are succinct, but I will be happy to share more if you have questions or comments.

1) Margrete Strand, new Board Member of the Sierra Club, is now assigned to work with the Florida SC Staff. She is the President of Public Citizen, and lives in Washington DC. She will work on the Beyond Coal campaign.
2) We need to make sure that we have better representatives elected in 2016, so a Lobbying Committee will be formed and will meet by phone starting in September 2015
(Phone mtgs. will be on Sunday night 6:30-7:30pm).
3) Report from David Cullen, our Sierra Club Lobbyist in Tallahassee. Full report in an email I can forward. In brief, we need to plan better to get Amendment 1 money put in place for the next 19 years.
4) Report from Tim Heberlein, Beyond Coal campaign staff (in St Pete). “The Beyond Coal” campaign is the most expensive campaign run by the Sierra Club and also the most successful. See article in Politico may 2915, article by Michael Grunwald “Inside the War on Coal”. In Florida, the goal is to shut down by the end of 2015 the McIntosh 3 coal plant in Lakeland. We need to push for clean energy using solar and wind.
5) Report by Dan Chu, National Sierra Club staff, on Our Wild America Campaign. See sierra club website for detailed information. A Committee was formed and met with Dan to create “Our Wild Florida” Campaign.
6) Report by Julia Hathaway, SC staff in Palm Beach Gardens, on “Big Sugar Summit” scheduled in West Palm Beach for 6-20-15. Learn how Big Sugar affects politics, our health and our lives. Watch the YouTube video on Big Sugar Summit in WPB.
7) Report by Alexis Horn, SC Staff in Ft Myers, on meetings with the FWC re: Bear Hunting that will be allowed in October 2015. Alexis is also working on the Protect the Panther campaign. She stated that the FWC leaders feel that the number of panthers is too high and they plan to take the panther off the Endangered List in the future. {You read it right}. FYI: There is a 4.000 acres/10.000 homes project of Collier Enterprise and Minto Communities (Rural Lands West) located in SW Florida, right into the panther habitat…??? { Why do we want to build more homes in this part of Florida known to be panther habitat? Are we short of foreclosure and bank owned homes at this time?}{my own comments}.
8) Report by Phil Compton, SC staff in St Petersburg, on Clean Air campaign, “I Love Clean Air”. In the media and the Energy Industry, we hear about the production of “Clean” Natural Gas…Don’t be fooled. Natural Gas is not a Clean Energy, it is a dirty fuel.
Use of electric buses Proterra, produced in North Carolina and BYD in Orlando, is increasing. Several events to promote Electric Vehicles (EV) are planned during “Drive Electric” Week (September 12-20) in Jax, Melbourne, Miami, Tampa and St Pete. Go check EV Guide on www.sierraclub.org .
9) Conservation Conference is planned for the fall of 2016. The planning committee needs some help and some ideas. Contact Craig Diamond and Rudy Schaffer.
10) Running your Best Excom. Groups worked on defining skills needed on Excom, and the qualities needed in each member to work effectively (team player, be present, humor).
11) Political Committee. Priority is to have a new 7 people Political Committee at the SC state level. A political compliance officer needs to be trained (in each group)– someone good with politics and compliances. Treasury reports need to be done monthly.
12) Excom elections for the Florida groups are not done electronically yet. National SC is working on this.

I know it looks like a lot of information or too little, but any comments are welcome.
See you at the picnic, July 18, Poe Springs…Bring a friend!
Maryvonne Devensky