The 2018 elections in Florida will be key to overturning decisions to ignore voter mandates to restore funding for environmental land protection and to ensure that fracking doesn’t happen in the future, Frank Jacklalone told a packed audience at Ancient Islands Sierra Club’s monthly meeting Thursday at Circle B.
Jackalone, a longtime Sierra Club activist from St. Petersburg, is senior organizing manager for Sierra Club Florida.
Environmental preservation and cleaner energy are the two big issues around which Sierra is joining with other groups to organize.
He outlined the current fight to get funding to restore the Everglades, which is suffering from decades of water diversions designed to support sugar farming and urban sprawl in south Florida.
Although the proposal approved this week in the Florida Senate to construction a giant reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is not exactly what supporters of Everglades restoration had in mind, Jackalone said they[re supporting it unless it is watered down by the Florida House.
“But protection of the Everglades is not enough,” he said, explaining it’s important to support and effort led by Bob Graham, who launched Everglades restoration when he was governor in the 1980s, to make sure the Florida Legislature funds purchase of environmental lands as the voters envisioned when they overwhelmingly supported Amendment 1 in the 2014 election.
The amendment authorized $300 million this year, but the budget proposed by the Florida House has no money and the proposed Senate budget has only $15 million, he said.
Meanwhile, a move to ban fracking in Florida, which was poised to get Senate approval, appears dead this year because of the unwillingness of House members to support the measure.
Jackalone said it will be important to get candidates on record on these issues for the 2018 legislative races and to support only candidates that support these two conservation priorities.
He emphasized that it is important to persuade elected officials to take the long view on these issues.
“We want the generations that come after us to enjoy the special places we enjoyed,” he said.
He also discussed the challenges of weakened federal environmental policy under the Trump administration.
“The stakes are very, very high,” he said, explaining citizens can commit to alternative energy as the technology becomes cheaper, more efficient and more esthetic and can create a new energy economy, regardless of anything Trump does.
“People don’t want environmental degradation,” Jackalone said.
He said another key to success will be joining with other groups to make common cause on these issues.
The next action is the People’s Climate March April 29.
The main demonstration will be in Washington D.C., but there will be local events around central Florida, including Tampa and Orlando.
For details on the Florida events, go to http://peoplesclimate.org/sistermarches/ .