Everglades uprising – an invitation to help create a Loxahatchee Free State

This Summer, you’re invited to join Everglades Earth First! in launching a sustained campaign of direct action to defend the ecologically rich South Florida Everglades. Since 2006, Everglades Earth First! (EEF!) has been involved in challenging a massive gas-fired power plant proposed by Florida Power & Light (FPL) a quarter-mile away from the Arthr R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The plant –which would consume over 6.5 billion gallons of water per year, emit 12 million tons of CO2 annually, requires 34 miles of gas pipeline through the L8 Canal/Loxahatchee Basin system and would invite over a million homes worth of sprawl– is now under construction in violation of Federal and State laws, including NEPA, Clean Air and Water Acts, ESA, the National Wildlife Refuge Act, RICO, and others. While courts are reviewing the environmental permits (or lack of), FPL and the Gulfstream pipeline are moving ahead, considering the “Final Certification” of former-Governor Jeb Bush as their justification.

Over the year EEF! has added our protests to the chorus of local dissent, which has sadly not included several other environmental groups due to FPL pay-offs. We have obstructed the road to FPL’s annual shareholders’ meeting, blocked the entrance to their illegal construction site on the Palm Beach Aggregates, covered the County with flyers and posters and confronted them face-to-face at nearly every public hearing.

We are ready to take our fight to a new level. Over the next year, while the pipeline and plant are under construction, we intend to launch a sustained campaign of direct action to bring attention to the greed of the energy industry and the failure of the government to respond, even within the bounds of its own corrupt system. We will set up camps on public land to monitor the progress of these projects and slow them down at every step we can. We will document their violations from the field (a tactic known as ground-truthing), we will stop them from harming a fragile ecosystem and its endangered species (including over 100 identified gopher tortoise burrows) and we will help turn the tide against the Energy Empire once and for all. Our camps will model the sustainable, cooperative and decentralized worldview that we believe in. We intend to reclaim the goal of restoration from the stranglehond of bureaucracy into the grassroots community… And y’all are invited!!

The Everglades Bioregion & it’s Threats

The Everglades bioregion is the watershed of South Florida, where a tropic and sub-tropic climate blend, originally starting in the Orlando area’s chain of lakes following the Kissimmee River basin into Lake Okeechobee and leaking out towards the coasts, creating marshes, sloughs (including Pahayokee, the Shark Valley’s famous river of grass), hammock islands and rivers loaded with wildlife. A bioregion is “an area of land which shares similar environmental, physical, climatic conditions and contain characteristic ecosystmes of plants and animals” (Goulthorpe & Gilfedder 2002)

South Florida was inhabited by land-based cultures known to us as: Calusa, Jeaga, Tekesta, Jobe, Ais and others. As Muscogee people from the Creek Confederation were forced to migrate south, the culture came to be known as Seminole and were soon joined by escaped African slaves (known as Estelusti). During the Wars of Indian Removal, the Everglades was one of the final holdouts of indigenous resistance to the encroaching U.S. Empire and its ongoing holocaust against native cultures. This bioregion is still home to the lands of Seminole and Miccosukee Tribal reservations, as well as lands held by the Independent Traditional Seminole Nation, which comprise some of the last unceded native territories in the Eastern United States. There were never legitimate treaties with the U.S. government south of Lake Kissimmee; according to agreements made with General Worth and signed by President Polk in 1845, Florida’s southern-most 5 million acres was set aside for the remaining Seminoles in Florida.

Today South Florida’s environment is a strange dichotomy. It is simultaneously home to one of the country’s largest expanse of protected wild area and one of the most degraded, threatened ecosystems in the U.S. Over the past century, countless reports, books and articles have been written about the demise of the Everglades. The last few decades filled shelves and files with stories and studies on the costly and overly-complex attempts to resuscitate the vast wetlands.

With near $10 billion public dollars (and rising) earmarked for restoration, what is considered the most ambitious restoration project on the planet has become a cash cow of corruption tainting nearly every agency and organization its money touches. There is an industry of advocacy groups and foundations that are dependent on the business interests and crooked politics of Everglades restoration — what we call the Environmental-Industrial Complex. If the Everglades had as many people defending it as it has researching and debating its defense, perhaps you wouldn’t have to bother reading this today.

While scientists and engineers spell out the hydrological failures of quality and quantity to sustain the ecosystem, the developer’s bulldozer keeps on rolling, building towering coastal condos, aquifer-sucking sprawl and all the polluting roads and power plants needed to support this cancer-like urban growth. As Big Agri-Business works their political connections to re-zone land for their final crop of concrete-and-steel across the Everglades Agiculture Area, the question of whether we can restore the historic flows of the Everglades region becomes moot. Add in the projections for coming climate change if we don’t reduce greenhouse gases immediately and the Everglades ecosystem, and all the plants and animals that depend on it (including us), are done for. From this point on we draw a line in the beach sand and swamp muck and say: No More.

For more info, check: www.RiverofGas.info or www.EvergladesEarthFirst.org or contact: EvergladesEarthFirst@gmail.com (donations to the monitoring camp can be made online)