Audubon Florida News

Topic: Everglades,Renewables,Wildlife



Wind Capital Group Says No Longer Pursuing Everglades Wind Farm

posted on November 27, 2013 in Everglades,Renewables,Wildlife

WindmillJust when things were about to heat up, we received some great news. Wind Capital Group has announced they will not be pursuing the giant wind turbine proposal in the Everglades Agricultural Area.  According to a consultant for the project, the company pulled out of Florida due to lack of economic viability and instead will focus efforts on wind projects in the Western United States.

According to Jane Graham, Audubon’s Everglades Policy Associate,

“Alternative energy is critical for our future needs, but it must be in the right place. This large scale project would have posed unreasonable risks to our treasured wildlife, given its proposed location on the Southern Atlantic Flyway, and surrounded by vulnerable and globally significant conservation areas including Lake Okeechobee and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.”

This is on the heels of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issuing a permit for the project on November 12 without notifying the public. Tuesday, Audubon sent a letter to DEP stating opposition to the issuance of the permit, and requesting to be kept informed of any further developments- including any attempts to transfer the permit to other entities. Moreover, we stated the need for DEP to develop clearer procedures in the future to balance the development of green energy with the protection of birds and other wildlife. The federal permit proposal has apparently been withdrawn, but we are still tracking it closely in case anything else develops.

Thank you to Audubon Society of the Everglades, United Waterfowlers of  Florida, and other environmental allies who spoke up to protect our precious birds in the Everglades.

For more coverage of this news, please see the following links:

Audubon Advocates Speak Up for Birds in Palm Beach Wind Turbine Debate

posted on March 23, 2012 in Everglades,Renewables

Yesterday, the Palm Beach County Commission held a quasi-judicial hearing on the zoning of Sugarland Wind, a proposed industrial wind project that aims to place over 100 turbines the size of the Statute of Liberty in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Thank you to Audubon of the Everglades, South Florida Audubon Society, and other Audubon chapters throughout the state for speaking up yesterday through direct testimony and resolutions directed at the Palm Beach County Commission to protect birds.

Audubon Florida supports wind energy but it has to be in the right place. Our staff have been urging the construction company behind the turbine project and the Palm Beach County Commissioners to postpone this project until there is adequate data to understand the potential impacts to the rich wildlife in the area, including endangered Wood Storks, Everglade Snail Kites, Audubon’s Crested Caracaras, and federally protected Bald Eagles. Audubon sent a letter requesting the collection of three years of on the ground data to detail the potential impacts to wildlife, an opinion shared by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

After hours of public comments and cross examinations from project development staff from members of the public, the Commission unanimously voted to approve zoning for the Sugarland Wind Project to proceed.

Despite this news, the Commission did decide to impose a number of conditions to protect wildlife, which include:

  1. The requirement for bird avoidance solutions for the wind project operations to protect birds and bats,
  2. The project must be compatible with current and futureEvergladesrestoration projects, including Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan projects and water quality projects.
  3. The Fish and Wildlife Service was added as an agency that must approve the project before it can finally proceed.

Audubon Florida would like to give a special thank you to Audubon of the Everglades’ President Linda Humphries, Rosa Durando, and our environmental allies from other organizations who gave impassioned public comments urging the Commission to protect our wildlife. Rebekah Gibble from the Fish and Wildlife Service also testified on the importance of data before the project moves forward.

Audubon Florida’s own Jane Graham testified and live tweeted the hearing at @EvergladesJane to let the advocates know what was happening in real time.

The Next Step: The Sugarland Wind project will now undergo further evaluations from the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Protection, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Audubon Florida will be actively engaged in promoting sound science through this process to protect our treasured wildlife in Florida. 

**Update: a day after the decision, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued land based wind siting guidelines, which emphasize rigorous science for siting decisions. Click here for National Audubon Society president David Yarnold’s statement.

Stay tuned and thanks for speaking up to protect Florida’s birds!

Sound Science Needed Before Siting Wind Farms

posted on February 29, 2012 in Renewables,Wildlife

Audubon policy and science staff are urging more rigorous scientific assessments of impacts to wildlife before Palm Beach County moves forward with approving this project on Thursday, March 1 at the Palm Beach Zoning Commission.

Alternative energy is extremely important and Audubon Florida is a ardent supporter. But projects must be appropriately planned and sited.

Audubon’s Everglades Conservation Team has serious questions about the location of this project. The proposed wind farm is within a highly sensitive ecological area with abundant wildlife, such as federally protected Bald Eagles and Wood Storks. The project area would be located between Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, our Water Conservation Areas, and within the footprint of future Everglades restoration projects. The area also falls within the Atlantic Flyway, an essential part of a migratory route for thousands of birds.

Audubon Florida’s Everglade Policy Associate Jane Graham was quoted in an interview with CBS News 12:

“This is something that hasn’t been done before and the impacts are unknown. There isn’t enough science to tell us precisely what will happen. This is an extremely vulnerable area. There are lots of federally listed endangered species around and with limited numbers, every bird counts.”


The Palm Beach County Zoning Commission will discuss the wind farm proposal this Thursday, March 1 at the Zoning Commission. The meeting is public – you can attend and let the Zoning Commission know what you think about this important issue.

THURSDAY MARCH 1, 2012

9:00 A.M.

Vista Center1st Floor Hearing Room, VC-1W-47

2300 N. Jog Road,West Palm Beach

What do you think about the proposal to place 114 wind turbines about the size of the Statue of Liberty in the Everglades Agricultural Area? Tell us in the comment section below or on Facebook!

A Wind-Power Generation Facility in the Heart of the Everglades Agricultural Area?

posted on August 16, 2011 in Everglade Snail Kite,Everglades,Renewables,Wildlife

Earlier this year, the St. Louis based Wind Capital Group expressed its interest in constructing a wind-power generation facility in the heart of South Florida’s Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

While Audubon strongly supports wind as an alternative to carbon-based fuels, we believe that wind facilities must be appropriately sited so that they do not cause unacceptable collateral impacts to birds and other wildlife.

On August 8th, Director of Wildlife Conservation Julie Wraithmell and Lake Okeechobee Science Coordinator Paul Gray released Audubon’s preliminary analysis of the project’s potential for wildlife impacts.

The environmental monitoring protocols currently proposed for the EAA project do not provide sufficient rigor to adequately predict future impacts. Audubon provided recommendations to achieve the necessary rigor to accurately assess the project’s risks to wildlife. The resources of this region are too important and vulnerable to proceed with implementation without sufficient information.

Read the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s coverage of this issue or review our comments in their entirety by clicking here.

Will You Speak Up for Clean Energy?

posted on July 12, 2011 in Renewables,State Government

A Texas oil and gas industry advocacy organization has apparently been detailed by Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos to come up with recommendations for Florida’s energy policy. The group is allowing others to attend its energy meeting in Orlando on July 18-20 to discuss energy issues ranging from off-shore drilling to renewable energy.

Audubon of Florida is calling on advocates for renewable energy and for energy efficiency to attend the meetings and voice support for clean energy options.

Notwithstanding the Senate President’s questionable strategy of delegating to an oil and gas industry front group the job of collecting energy recommendations, if conservation advocates do not weigh in on these meetings, our views may not be considered. So we ask that you participate. Let us know how the meetings went on the Protect the WEB Facebook Page, in an email or below in the comments section. Even if you cannot attend, we want to know how you feel about Senate President Haridopolos’ decision and Florida’s energy future.

Audubon has sought every available opportunity to offer public testimony before committees of the Florida Senate, and we see no reason why our comments should now be filtered through the oil and gas lobby. But Senate President Haridopolos in a letter to the president of Houston based Consumer Energy Alliance asked the group to meet with other stakeholders and report to him by the end of the year. The oil and gas lobby did reach out to Audubon in an email with a vague invitation to a meeting at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando.

Audubon and other clean energy advocates will still try to persuade Senate President Haridopolos and other legislators and candidates that drilling for oil off our beaches is a dead end strategy and that renewable energy and energy efficiency are the best options for Florida. You can help by attending one of these energy hearings.

Tell Senate President Haridopolos and the Texas oilmen organizing the hearings that you:

  • Support renewable energy financed by a small earmark on rates.
  • Support conservation through requirements for more efficient electricity and transportation.
  • Oppose drilling for oil off Florida’s vulnerable coasts.
swflranch
Click on image to enlarge.

The Rosen Creek Shingle is located at 9939 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819. To contact the hotel, call 866-996-9939 or access its website here: http://www.rosenshinglecreek.com/.

All sessions are off the record and require an RSVP to attend. If you would like to participate, please e-mail Natalie Joubert at njoubert@consumerenergyalliance.org or call her at 202-778-2103 and indicate which session(s) you would like to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

New Solar-Thermal Power Plant Comes Online in Martin County

posted on March 11, 2011 in Climate Change,Renewables

Audubon of Florida Executive Director Eric Draper was a featured speaker at the opening of FPL’s newest solar energy installment, located in Martin County. The array features over 190,000 mirrors that concentrate the sun’s rays by 80%. That heat is then used to boil water, which in turn creates steam that is used to generate 75 megawatts of power, or enough to serve 11,000 Florida homes.

Besides being 75 million dollars under budget, the new plant is the first in the world to be hooked up to an existing natural gas power plant and will save customers an estimated $178 million in fuel costs over its lifetime.

Congratulations Florida – it can be done!

Watch Executive Director Eric Draper’s speech at the opening ceremony here:

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Goes Solar

posted on January 31, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp,Gulf Oil Spill,Renewables

Audubon Blair Center at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary by RJ WileyOver the weekend, Audubon of Florida was proud to announce that their own Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida has completed installation of Solar Panels on the roof of the Blair Center. With a generous donation from REC Solar, who donated the panels and installation work, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary will now save around 400 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere every two weeks.

Audubon Director David Yarnold Announces the Solar Panels by RJ WileyThe donation was a response to Audubon’s efforts to save Brown Pelicans in the wake of the BP Oil Disaster of 2010. The panels will go a long way in helping prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere and will be a great tool to teach visitors about the benefits of renewable energy and conservation. National Audubon Society President David Yarnold was on hand for the official unveiling.

Solar Panel Savings by RJ WileyCongratulations to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and REC Solar who made this momentous day a reality! Thank you!

Happy Holidays from Audubon of Florida

"Spoonbill Lagoon" by Peter R. Gerbert

“The Spoonbill Lagoon” © Peter R. Gerbert

As the temperature drops across our state, Audubon of Florida wishes you the warmest of holiday seasons and a healthy New Year. This time of the year is perfect for spending time outside with loved ones, reconnecting with the natural world. Try spending a day at one of Florida’s incredible State Parks or take a trip to Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Wherever you may find yourself this busy holiday season, be sure to take comfort in your family, friends and natural Florida.

Please take a moment to read Audubon of Florida’s year-end reports and newsletters.  They are a great and concise way to learn about what Audubon has been up to in 2010.

Restore!

The Advocate

The Coastal Strand

Florida Raptor News

Climate Action Network

Thank you for all your support – we’re looking forward to an exciting 2011!

Protect the WEB – Water, Energy and Birds are All Connected

posted on November 30, 2010 in Climate Change,Renewables

Protect the WEBTake the Conservation Challenge today and  upload your stories and tips to our Facebook Page.

Providing ample clean water for human consumption and use takes a huge amount of energy and often impacts our wetlands, ponds, lakes, streams, rivers and estuaries. These natural systems are critical for the survival of natural habitats, native plants, birds, and other wildlife. By modifying the may we use energy and design our backyard landscapes, we can dramatically reduce our energy use and our water consumption and contribute to conserving these vital resources.

Improving your home’s energy and water efficiency also saves you money. Here are some fast facts: Home heating and cooling generally accounts for 50 percent of the electricity you use at home. Watering lawns account for half of potable water use. Energy Star estimates that you could save up to 20 percent of air conditioning costs just by sealing and insulating your home.  A shade tree planted on the west side of your home can also provide valuable free energy saving benefits.

With growing numbers of people and rapid rates of development, many of our native habitats are disappearing. Birds and other wildlife that call Florida home have fewer places to breed and spend the winter, and the millions of migrating birds that pass through our state twice each year have fewer places to rest and refuel.  Through conservation you can help make sure there is enough water for both human consumption and the natural environment.  And by planting the right plants in the right places, you can save both water and energy and provide food, water and shelter for birds.

Invite your friends and family to take the challenge with you – or bring a copy of the list to your next neighborhood meeting. Together, we can make a difference for Water, Energy and Birds.

St. Petersburg College presents “The Gulf Oil Crisis – Pathways to Policy: The Future of Energy”

posted on September 23, 2010 in Gulf Oil Spill,Renewables

On Saturday October 2nd, St. Petersburg College is hosting an event to learn and discuss national and state energy policy.

Speakers include:

  • Dan Lashof – Climate Center Director, National Resources Defense Council
  • Dr. David A. Cartes – Director, Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability (IESES), Florida State University
  • Barry Moline – Executive Director, Florida Municipal Electric Association
  • Dale Brill – President, Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Panel Discussion Moderated by Susan Glickman of the Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy
Economy.

Get more information and register here.

CLICK HERE FOR FLYER

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