Florida’s Amendment 9 – Frequently Asked Questions


What is Amendment 9?

Amendment 9 will prohibit drilling for oil or natural gas in Florida’s state waters and include tobacco vaping in the existing prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces. Learn more at www.yeson9florida.org

What offshore area would Amendment 9 cover?

Amendment 9 would prohibit drilling in state waters, which extend three miles offshore on the Atlantic coast and nine miles offshore on the Gulf coast. Waters beyond these distances are regulated by the federal government, and Florida cannot prohibit drilling in federal waters.

Isn’t there already a law prohibiting drilling?

Florida currently has prohibition in state statute against drilling in state-owned waters, but laws can be undone, and in 2009, the Florida House of Representatives voted to lift drilling ban. This measure was introduced under highly irregular circumstances with eight days left of the 60 day regular session. The proposal received very little discussion and was pushed through. Fortunately, the Florida Senate did not comply and the measure died.

Why does this belong in the Constitution?

The 2009 vote to lift the existing near-shore ban demonstrates why we need greater protection in the state constitution. Laws can be changed and our tourism economy, jobs and natural environment are too important to be left to political whims.

What about vaping?

In 2002, when the workplace smoking ban was placed in the Florida constitution by 71 percent of voter approval, vaping technologies did not exist. Amendment 9 would simply update an already existing constitutional protection for the health of people in the workplace so they are not subjected to second-hand smoke or vapors. See the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Yes on 9 site here.

Wouldn’t drilling create jobs?

Culling oysters. Apalachicola Bay, FL. | Credit : Michael Hanson for www.whoownswater.org
Culling oysters on Apalachicola Bay |
Credit : Michael Hanson for www.whoownswater.org

There is a potential for some job and revenue creation associated with offshore drilling, however, any jobs created by offshore drilling would pose a direct threat to the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Floridians who work existing jobs in fishing and coastal tourism industries that rely on oil-free waters and a clean coast. Saltwater recreational fishing generates $8.0 billion annually and supports 114,898 jobs, and Florida’s commercial fisheries generate $17.7 billion of sales, $3.3 billion of income, and $5.9 billion of value-added and support 92,858 jobs, including imports.

In 2016, out-of-state visitor spending in Florida reached a record $112 billion. Visitors generated $88 billion, or roughly 10 percent, of Florida’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and visitors generated $11.6 billion in state and local taxes. Additionally, an analysis shows that oil drilling and tourism don’t mix. Coastal counties on the Gulf coast without pipelines and refineries generate twice as much tourism revenue per capita as counties with such infrastructure.

Why do we care about state waters when the big threat is offshore?

Putting a ban on near-shore drilling in the state Constitution would send a very loud message to our policy-makers that Floridians want to protect our coasts from the ravages of oil and gas extraction and the pollution that it would bring in the process and resulting infrastructure.

The threat of drilling expansion in federal waters is real, and the Trump Administration has announced its intent to open all U.S. coasts to drilling.

How else will we get energy?

The United States has massive oil and gas resources that are more economical that drilling off of Florida’s beaches. There is simply no need to open pristine areas for additional drilling.

The future of the transportation sector is widely seen as electric. Electric vehicle sales are expected to surpass 50 percent of new vehicles by 2040, and this rapid uptake of electric vehicles will dramatically reduce global oil demand. A recent American Automobile Association (AAA) survey found that 20 percent of Americans are likely to make their next car electric. Royal Dutch Shell, a major oil and natural gas development company, estimates that global oil demand may peak in the 2020s and decline thereafter. As electric vehicles take over the transportation sector, and the demand for oil is reduced, it makes sense that we amend the Constitution to ensure a permanent solution.

What can I do to help Amendment 9 pass?

Volunteer at the polls! To pass, we must have 60 percent of Florida voters voting YES on Amendment 9. Volunteer at the polls during early voting or on Election Day to remind voters why it’s important to Take the Time, and Vote Yes on Amendment 9. Sign up to volunteer at the polls here.

Spread the word on social media: The oil industry is spending lots of money to expand drilling, so take a few seconds to share this fun, educational video on Facebook so that your friends and family know to vote YES on 9! Find more resources via our social media toolkit here.

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – Oct 19

“The U.S. Has 1 Million Electric Vehicles, but Does It Matter?” The article includes a summary of the current dire need for EVs as a solution to decarbonizing our transportation sector, the global market summary, manufacturer sentiment, and how local leadership can guide the U.S. there. It references the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warns nations of the need to rapidly transition the transportation sector to electric.

Although the U.S. federal government has not been supportive of policies to decarbonize, many states and local municipalities have been working hard to promote and expand driving electric. Therefore, for this week’s news roundup we chose to highlight some great work by EV enthusiasts that made the 2018 National Drive Electric Week a success!

The 2018 National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) saw record-breaking participation from electric vehicle drivers and attendees with over 321 events in all 50 states. NDEW started in 2011 as a single day devoted to showcasing the value and benefits of driving electric and has grown to a full week across the nation. This year from September 8-16 people all across the country learned more about electric vehicles at these engaging events. Plug-In America, one of the event’s national sponsors, recorded over 9,000 ride and drives! The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) participated in promoting, attending and broadcasting many events throughout the Southeast. Below are some highlights. Read more…

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FAKE NEWS alert: “Zombie” Bellefonte reactors remain a bad bet

The infamous, “zombie” Bellefonte reactors near Scottsboro, Alabama were cancelled in 2016 by TVA after being mothballed for many decades (and cannibalized for parts used at other reactors) with billions of dollars spent/wasted. The project remains a very, very bad economic bet despite recent efforts by Franklin L. Haney’s Nuclear Development, LLC to lure Memphis Gas Light & Water (MLGW) into buying power from it.

The Bellefonte site has a fascinatingly long, complicated history that serves as the poster child for all that often goes wrong with nuclear power construction projects, which can be summed up in one word: failure. And failures aren’t worth repeating, especially multi-billion dollar failures with serious outstanding safety concerns that have already cost utility customers too much for literally no electricity ever produced.

Cartoon courtesy of Tom Ferguson

Why is MLGW being courted?

It’s important to remember that Mr. Haney has been trying to revive the Bellefonte project for years (see our analysis on a privatization scheme for the site back in 2013 here) and won the bid to acquire the abandoned plant for pennies on the dollar from TVA in 2016. But now, Nuclear Development, LLC is apparently trying to get over $8 billion in controversial taxpayer-backed federal nuclear loan guarantees for the project. There is a November 2018 deadline by which they need to show the Department of Energy that they may have a customer to one day purchase the electricity (that likely will never be generated).

Enter the Courtship of MLGW. Haney and his friends are promising massive cost savings to MLGW. And get this – Michael Cohen (yeah, that Michael Cohen) reportedly is also part of this bizarre affair: “Franklin Haney, a Chattanooga developer who is a principal with Nuclear Development, has come under scrutiny after allegedly offering President Donald Trump’s former associate, Michael Cohen, $10 million if he could help Haney land the federal loan.”

What should MLGW do?

Rally in Knoxville, TN – Courtesy of Powershift

We’re encouraged that MLGW is reviewing all of its options and agree that it shouldn’t rush that review. However, there are a lot of reasons Bellefonte shouldn’t even be on MLGW’s short list. (We won’t focus now on the serious safety concerns about reviving a cannibalized, abandoned nuclear plant.)

First, MLGW should look to the current fate of JEA, another municipal utility down in Jacksonville, Florida, that wants out of their contractual obligations with the ONLY remaining new nuclear power construction project in the U.S. – Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia. Years ago when rosy projections were offered about the costs of new nuclear power, JEA bought in to the Vogtle expansion. JEA offered to buy a significant portion of power from MEAG, one of the Vogtle co-owners. Years later, with the original price tag of $14 billion having doubled and a more than 5 year schedule delay, JEA is using every legal and political maneuver to extricate themselves from the bad deal they agreed to.

Second, MLGW should take a hard look at the supposed savings Nuclear Development, LLC claims they’ll receive if they buy into Bellefonte. Definitely question the cost and the schedule – completion by 2023? In what universe? If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (Another phrase also comes to mind, “Run for the hills!”) Thankfully, it does sound like MLGW is voicing skepticism.

Third and most importantly, MLGW should look to actual affordable opportunities that are available today that could save their customers money. In fact, JEA adopted this approach in their dispute with MEAG. In a September 18 letter, they assert that, “Costs for both solar and storage have dropped significantly over recent years and prices are expected to continue to drop, a fact that is in stark contrast to the megawatt price that will result from the [nuclear] Project.”

MLGW, similarly, could access cost-effective solar to meet customer expectations for clean, safe, reliable electricity. Project developers from within the Tennessee Valley can offer solar to MLGW at prices lower than the wholesale price TVA charges. They are doing deals like this in surrounding states like Georgia. This is the kind of contract MLGW should be pursuing rather than a high-risk bet on the cannibalized, “Zombie” Bellefonte reactors.

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V.C. Summer and Dominion: How to Save Customers Money and Protect the Environment

V.C. Summer nuclear project, May 2017. Courtesy High Flyer 2017.

V.C. Summer nuclear project, May 2017. Courtesy High Flyer 2017.

South Carolina’s energy regulator–the Public Service Commission (PSC)–will be hearing a very important case in November to decide the future of the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear project and SCE&G’s proposed merger with Dominion Energy, which will shape South Carolina’s energy future for decades.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has intervened in the docket with Coastal Conservation League, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, and we have submitted testimony from several experts showing how to save customers money, serve the public interest, and increase customer protection while investing in the reliable, low-cost clean energy future that our state’s citizens desire. Testimony here, here, and here.

Our testimony contains three recommendations to protect customers, to save them money, and to protect the environment. Read more…

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Trump Administration’s “Affordable Clean Energy” Rule Is Anything But

This is a guest blog written by Julie McNamara with the Union for Concerned Scientists. The original blog can be viewed here.

 

If there’s one thing you need to know about the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, the Trump Administration’s new proposal for limiting carbon emissions from power plants, it’s this: ACE was not designed to reduce emissions; ACE was designed to boost generation from coal plants.

Which is audacious! A clean air standard that somehow manages to increase the nation’s use of its dirtiest power source, even when compared against a scenario with no carbon standards at all?

Remarkably, yes.

Because under the cover of establishing emissions guidelines, ACE is actually peddling regulatory work-arounds that aim to increase coal generation, a brazen attempt at stalling the industry’s precipitous decline.

How could something like this possibly come to pass from an agency whose core mission is to protect human health and the environment? A proposal that not only manages to increase emissions, but also worsens public health and raises costs?

Here, we’ll take a look.

With ACE, something is worse than nothing

ACE is the Trump Administration’s proposed replacement to the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a standard developed by the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut carbon pollution from power plants. Both ACE and the CPP are underpinned by the agency’s Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings, which necessitate that EPA regulate carbon emissions to protect human health and welfare. Read more…

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Hurricane Michael and Climate Change: What We Know

Chris Carnevale with SACE contributed to this blog post.

Photo 10/10/2018, 11:52 PM; taken from https://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/content/hurricane-imagery

It’s hard to believe we are writing another blog about another big hurricane headed towards the Southeast not even a month after Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas. But we are! If you are in the path of Hurricane Michael, here are tips to stay safe from the Department of Homeland Security. As we mentioned in our pre-Hurricane Florence blog, we must keep talking about preparing longer term for hurricanes in a warmer world.

First, it needs to be said that hurricanes are not caused by climate change. However, it’s also important to understand that the impacts of hurricanes are very much influenced by a warming climate. NOAA states that the average temperature for September 2018 across the contiguous U.S. coming was 67.8 degrees F (2.9 degrees above average), making it the fourth hottest September in the 124-year record. Let’s take a deeper dive on the links are between hurricanes and climate change. Read more…

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – Oct 5

Electric Vehicles
Volkswagen appears to have concrete plans to back-up their announcement last week of 10 million EVs. They laid out details of the Modular Electric Toolkit/MEB platform, which will be the base for their electric fleet among other aspects of how they plan to turn out high production numbers of EVs. Read on, here.

The article It Costs Less To Fuel An Electric Car, And Why compares fuel costs between gasoline and electricity and demonstrates why it’s much cheaper to fuel an EV.

Infrastructure
Hatteras Island, North Carolina now has public electric vehicle charging stations. “The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative installed stations in Rodanthe and in Hatteras Village near the ferry docks, said Laura Ertle, spokeswoman for the organization.”  Read more…

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Where the 2018 Candidates Stand on Energy: Democratic Nominee for Florida Senator Bill Nelson

This post is the seventeenth in a series of blogs examining where the 2018 candidates for state and federal offices in the Southeast stand on key energy and climate issues. SACE staffers, George Cavros, Susan Glickman, and Alissa Schafer contributed to this post. To read the candidate profile for Florida Republican Nominee for U.S. Senate, Rick Scott, click here

 Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.

Candidate: Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate from Florida. He has served in that position since 2000. Nelson is a fifth-generation Floridian and was a Captain in the US Army. Previously, Nelson served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner for Florida. Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate, Nelson was an astronaut, flying on the Columbia Space Shuttle.

Renewables

Nelson has stated in filing a bill to allow greater access to financing for solar power that “Florida is the nation’s Sunshine State but ranks twelfth when it comes to solar production.” He added: “That needs to change. This bill will make it easier for homeowners to invest in their own solar installations while, at the same time, making it easier for larger renewable energy companies to access the capital they need to expand and create more jobs in Florida.” According to his website, the bill could further expand the solar industry in Florida by allowing banks to invest heavily in the renewable energy sector, a financial move that is currently banned under Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulation. Read more…

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Where the 2018 Candidates Stand on Energy: Republican Nominee for Florida Senator Rick Scott

This post is the sixteenth in a series of blogs examining where the 2018 candidates for state and federal offices in the Southeast stand on key energy and climate issues. SACE staffers George Cavros, Susan Glickman, and Alissa Schafer contributed to this post. To read the candidate profile for Florida Democratic Nominee for U.S. Senate Bill Nelson, click here

Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.

Photo by Shealah Craighead

Candidate: Rick Scott

Rick Scott is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Florida. He has served as Florida’s governor since 2010. Before becoming governor, Scott served in the U.S. Navy and was a health care company executive.

Renewables

Governor Scott signed bipartisan bill S.B. 90 into Florida state law to implement a pro-solar amendment adopted by voter Amendment 4 in 2016. S.B. 90 exempts 80 percent of the value of a solar installation from the tangible personal property (TPP) tax for both residential and commercial properties. S.B. 90 also exempts 80 percent of the value of a solar installation from the assessment of real property taxes for commercial properties. A 100 percent exemption already exists for residential properties. Read more…

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SACE Organizers Registering Voters Across Tennessee

SACE’s organizer, Michael MacMiller, registered high schools students at Memphis Business Academy this past Tuesday.

In order to make clean energy and environmental justice issues a top priority in the South, we have to start by boosting voter turnout among those ready to build a clean, just energy future in local and statewide elections across the region. And where better to start organizing than the state in our region that has fallen the furthest behind in voter engagement – Tennessee. Currently, Tennessee is ranked 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration. That means hundreds of thousands of Tennessean voices are effectively being silenced because they aren’t taking advantage of the power of the ballot box and we want to change that. 

Midterms are just around the corner, and there are only 12 days left in Tennessee to register voters before the 2018 midterm election. That’s why SACE organizers across Tennessee are hard at work, registering new voters at high schools, community centers, college campuses, and local farmers markets to make sure more Tennesseans exercise their right to vote this November.

Read more…

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