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May 19, 2011

Florida Eases Beach Restoration Standards as BP Dollars Roll In

TALLASSEE, Florida, Mary 18, 2011 (ENS) – Florida has suspended key
protections to reduce or prevent environmental harm and public health risks
in rebuilding eroded beaches with dredged materials, according to agency
documents posted Tuesday by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility, a membership organization of employees in natural resources
agencies.
The documents show there will be no review of contaminants used in materials
placed for beach restoration nor will wildlife damage be considered in
resoration plans.

The suspension comes as BP releases millions of dollars to finance beach
projects in compensation for damage from last year’s Deepwater Horizon
blowout in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted in the largest offshore oil
spill in U.S. history – nearly five million barrels of crude oil.

In an April 15, 2011 directive, a top official in the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, DEP, issued a reinterpretation for how the agency
would apply rules governing beach projects.

The memo by Jeff Littlejohn, DEP Deputy Secretary for Regulatory programs,
makes it clear that beach work should be “presumptively approved regardless
of consequences,” said PEER in a statement Tuesday.

“While we must consider the potential for adverse impacts to fish and
wildlife and their habitats, we must keep the following fact clear in our
minds: The restoration of critically eroded beaches increases habitat and
has been determined by the legislature to be in the public interest,”
Littlejohn writes.

“The new marching orders in Florida are damn the beaches, full speed ahead,”
warned Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP enforcement
attorney. “Under this directive, state permit writers cannot do their jobs
of making sure that the beach work is beneficial and done responsibly.”

The memo directs DEP permit staff to not consider listed “contaminants” used
in borrow material when deciding whether or not to allow the project to go
forward, unless they would cause “cementation” of the beach.

The memo directs staff to, “Avoid requesting additional information about
projects or imposing conditions.” Under the memo, it is uncertain how DEP
will prevent prohibited toxic material, construction debris or other foreign
matter from being deposited onto artificially reinforced beaches.

The memo also directs staff to suspend reviews on planting plans which
determine “a project’s potential to impact the beach and dune system.”

Last month, BP said it will give Florida $100 million for environmental and
natural resource restoration and recovery from the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill disaster.

The funds are for beach re-nourishment projects, as well as restoration of
oyster reefs, sea grass beds and bird habitat. This initial BP payment will
be followed by a much bigger sum BP will owe Gulf states once natural
resources damage assessments are completed.

“Given the huge magnitude of the beach work that is about to commence in
Florida, we should make sure it is done right rather than in a fly-by-night
frenzy,” said Phillips. “Florida’s beaches are too important to cover with
crap and call it restoration.”

May 16, 2011

Margo is at it Again!

Many of you may remember Margo for her paddle from Miami to Maine a couple of years ago to raise awareness for our oceans. Well she is at it again…along the entire Jersey coastline. She is traveling with a Stand Up Paddle Board this time. Why is this relevant to Florida Surfrider Chapters you ask? Well…She is doing this to help the Emerald Coast Chapter raise funds to continue the oil testing in the gulf.

To find out more Click Here to learn more and donate.

May 16, 2011

Update from our Pensacola Member on th Gulf Blog…

BP Contractor is attempting to remove Tarmats in the Surf Zone in Perdido Key, FL

A BP Contractor has been working the last three days on the Beaches of Perdido Key, FL to remove large areas of tarmat in the surf zone near Eden Condominiums.

http://whatsupwiththegulf.blogspot.com/2011/05/bp-contractor-attempting-to-remove.html

May 12, 2011

Hands Across the Sand: June 25th

Add your voice to the grassroots movement to protect our coastlines from offshore drilling! Participate in Hands Across the Sand on June 25, 2011!
Go to www.handsacrossthesand.com to find an event near you or to create your own event.
Hands Across the Sand is an international grassroots event that brings people together to oppose new offshore oil drilling and promote a clean energy future. Last year more than 100,000 participants made Hands Across the Sand the biggest anti-offshore drilling demonstration in world history. This year’s event promises to be even bigger.
The premise of the event is very simple: on June 25 at 12pm local time people will join hands for 15 minutes on beaches and in communities around the world to champion clean energy solutions to our filthy fuels problem. All events are organized locally and the event website provides most of the resources that you will need.
So visit the Hands Across the Sand website today and sign up to organize an event at your local beach or in your community (landlocked residents are encouraged to participate too)! Many locations go quickly, so don’t delay!
With the U.S. House of Representatives passing new legislation to expand oil and gas development off our coasts, now is the time to join the grassroots movement to protect our coastlines from risky drilling practices!
See you on June 25!

May 3, 2011

New legislation that would fast track new offshore drilling

Please tell Congress to oppose new legislation that would fast track new offshore drilling in our ocean waters. House Bills 1229, 1230, and 1231 would accelerate the leasing process for offshore drilling and mandate new drilling in sensitive ocean areas off virtually every coast.

Click here to take action!

As the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrated, offshore drilling is an inherently risky activity that can devastate the health of our coastlines. Yet, instead of addressing the safety and environmental issues that the BP disaster exposed, HR 1229, 1230, and 1231 would actually weaken oversight of offshore drilling and expand drilling to new places that have not been drilled before, including the Atlantic, eastern Gulf, and much of the Pacific.

Our nation’s coasts provide billions of dollars in economic revenue through recreation, tourism, and healthy seafood. We must protect these benefits from the risks of offshore drilling.

Please make your voice heard and tell your Representative that you support protecting our coasts from expanded oil and gas development!

May 2, 2011

Southeast Florida Coral Reef Survey

Surfrider Foundation is a member of the Southeast Coral Reef Taskforce. As a member of this group we are involved in a number of working committees to identify how to best protect our reefs. We are conducting a project concerning the management of coral reefs and associated resources in southeast Florida. We are particularly interested in your opinion on the condition of certain resources, your views on how these resources are being managed, and most importantly, your suggestions on how better to manage coral reefs in the region.

We have developed a 20-minute video that goes over southeast Florida coral reef resources, their condition and trends, present management approaches, and future management options. We request that participants in our project please first view this video, which is available online at www.seflreefstudy.com, and then complete a very short survey, which can also be accessed via www.seflreefstudy.com.

Your input is highly valuable and we encourage that you please participate to provide your opinions to Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on the effectiveness of the regional coral reef management and best ways to better protect these resources.

If you have any questions concerning the study, you can contact the project leaders, Manoj Shivlani (Email: shivlanim@bellsouth.net) or Maria Estevanez (Email: mestevanez@rsmas.miami.edu). We look forward to your input!

May 2, 2011

Upcoming Congressional Bills on Oil Drilling

Great blog post by NRDC on the Doc Hasting’s offshore drilling bills. These are scheduled for House floor votes in May and are getting a lots of support in Congress – especially considering how extreme and misguided they are! Stay tuned for an action alert we’ll be launching this week on these…

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dgoldston/casting_oil_upon_the_waters_th.html

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