Juno, FL – Activists with Earth First! groups from across the country converged at the Florida Power and Light (FPL) Headquarters this morning. Five protestors have locked their necks together at the entrance, disrupting business operations at the second largest energy company in the nation. Their primary concern is a proposal to construct a fossil fuel power plant in Hendry County, on the border of the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation.
“Stop FPL and others who destroy the environment and resources, for the sake of our future generations,” says Sam Tommie, a Seminole tribal member who opposes the project.
“This proposal is an act of environmental racism against indigenous people and an attack on the Everglades. If we stand by and do nothing, we are also complicit in this injustice,” says Christian Minaya of Everglades Earth First!, a group based in Palm Beach County.
The signs and banners of Earth First! demonstrators include messages regarding threats to panther habitat, water quality and the practice of gas fracking—a controversial extraction technique that will likely be a source of fuel for the facility. Last year FPL also announced that it would be partnering with Spectra, a major transporter of fracked gas, to build a new pipeline across Northern Florida.
“This FPL proposal would be one of the biggest plants in the country. There’s a good chance that the gas could come from poisoning the water around where I live,” said a protestor named Ryan, from New York, where
there is a push for more gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region.
FPL’s plans in Hendry County have already been delayed by legal challenges to the rezoning of the land proposed for the site. Minaya, of Everglades Earth First!, says their group is familiar with the proposed power plant in Hendry County. The model is identical to the FPL plant they fought in Loxahatchee, known as the West County Energy Center (WCEC). Between 2007 and 2009 over 50 people were arrested in blockades and protests against the WCEC, as well as at the Barley Barber FPL plant in Martin County.
Each of these massive power plants, also in the Everglades, are known to use over 20 million of gallons of water daily and emit thousands of tons of pollution including, SO2, NOx, mercury and chromium, as well as millions of tons of greenhouse gases.
The activists also say FPL has a history of environmental racism, citing long standing complaints against their facilities in the predominately Black community of Riviera Beach, where the company recently expanded a gas facility amidst community opposition.
Watch the video below for a glimpse of the action:
More Images from the Protest