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Former DEP chief Mike Sole heads to FPL

Monday, October 4th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole has gone to work for Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light.

The marine biologist is the vice president of the power company’s government affairs department, according to an internal FPL memo.

Sole, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist shortly after he took office four years ago, stepped down as DEP chief this summer in the midst of overseeing the state’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Oil disaster a siege, not a marathon, DEP Secy. Sole tells lawmakers

Monday, May 10th, 2010 by Dara Kam

gulf_oil_spill_jpeg_426705eThe massive oil leak and continuing outpouring of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is a siege, not a marathon, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole told lawmakers on a conference call this afternoon.

“A lot of times in the emergency management realm we say this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Sole, the state’s lead official in charge of the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, said. “Well, sadly this is not a marathon because I don’t know how far we’re going to run. This is a siege.”

Sole said the state will “continue to throw everything we have at it until it’s solved whether that’s solved in two days because they suddenly get the blow-out prevention device to work or whether they need to keep trying everything and the only solution, the only thing that works is the relief well.”

BP’s attempt to funnel the 210,000 gallons a day spewing out of the wrecked rig 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface failed this weekend. The oil giant is building a relief well to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But that project will take two to three months to complete, Sole said.

And BP is considering other experimental options to try to reduce the amount of oil coursing into the Gulf.

Rep. Greg Evers, R-Baker, asked Sole if he could ballpark the chances of success for capping the leak before the relief well is complete.

“That’s an excellent question. The answer is no I don’t,” Sole said, followed by a lengthy silence.

“Whether or not they try other options …whether they’re well-formulated and good ideas that they want to pursue, that’s what they’re looking at,” said Sole, a biologist. “I don’t want to say they’re doing to do x. I know they’re looking at those options but they haven’t made a decision yet on what would be the right thing to do.”

Tar balls on Florida beaches for possibly years

Friday, May 7th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Tar balls could be washing up on Florida’s beaches for years, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole told reporters on a conference call today.

But that’s not so bad, Sole said, because the gooey blobs are easier to clean up than the viscous crude oil now pumping out of the Deepwater Horizon rig off Louisiana’s coastline.

The oil sheen is about 60 miles South of the state’s now-pristine Panhandle beaches and is not expected to reach Florida’s coast until Tuesday, Sole said.

What kind of damage the state will suffer depends on how quickly BP officials cap the oil spewing into the Gulf, now at about 5,000 gallons per day.

Over time, waves and the content of the ocean will shrink the oil slick by up to 60 percent and harden it into tar balls, Sole, a biologist, said.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

Florida might escape significant impacts of the spill but because of the voluminous amount of oil flowing out of the leak – more than 200,000 gallons per day since the April 20 blast – “we may see tar balls over months and years to come,” Sole said.
“But a lot of that depends on how effective they are at capping the discharge.”

BP is erecting a concrete box around the leak and is battling the slick with fire, dispersants and skimmers.

“However, at 5,000 barrels a day, unless they eliminate that, my fear is we will see greater impact than just tar balls,” Sole said.

DEP Secy. Sole to update lawmakers on oil spill

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole will update lawmakers about the state’s preparation for the massive oil spill leaking in the Gulf of Mexico on a conference call at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Senate President Jeff Atwater, who is running statewide for chief financial officer and has quietly opposed drilling off of Florida’s coast being pushed by GOP House leaders, invited his members to listen in.

“Since the issue of offshore drilling was first raised last year, I have been committed to ensuring no decision to open state waters to drilling would be made without a thorough study of the implications. The impact that a catastrophe, such as the Deepwater Horizon spill, could have on Florida was at the forefront of my mind. Despite the many individuals who championed the fiscal benefits and decried possible negative impacts, I was resolute in the need for a comprehensive study,” Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said in a memo.

“Florida is home to too many precious and unique ecosystems, world-renowned beaches, and an economy that is significantly based on tourism, to take the implications that surround offshore drilling lightly.

Thus, the Senate is actively monitoring the Deepwater Horizon spill. As this catastrophe plays out in the gulf, I want you to be informed as to the most recent efforts and actions underway to contain the damage and preparations being considered for cleaning up any oil that may reach our shores,” he wrote.

Today, at 2 PM, DEP Secretary Mike Sole will be conducting a teleconference for members of the Legislature. I strongly encourage you to participate by calling 888-808-6959 and entering the following code: 2452140#.

BP too slow on oil spill? Crist says state needs to move: ‘We can send them a bill.’

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

State officials are preparing for what could be the nation’s worst oil spill in recent history to reach Florida shores.

But Gov. Charlie Crist said he is worried about whether the corporation responsible for the disaster is doing everything it can Florida.

Under federal law created after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, BP is responsible for the cleanup and mitigation of the rapidly growing oil leak, now more than 600 miles in circumference, looming off Florida’s Panhandle coastline.

“But my concern is we need to be a responsible country…We can send them a bill later,” Crist told reporters at a noon briefing at state emergency operations headquarters. “It creates a significant concern that the party who created the problem is now the party that’s responsible for solving the problem. I get that. That’s why I’m here.”
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‘Daunting’ oil spill will wind up in court, AG says; BP pledges to pick up tab

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Florida officials are ramping up preparation for the massive oil spill looming off the state’s Panhandle coastline.

“The magnitude of this spill is daunting,” state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole said at a press conference early this morning.

oil-locationsAttorney General Bill McCollum warned Floridians not to sign anything releasing BP or other companies associated with the oil leak and to ignore “scammers” who promise to clean up affected areas.

“There is a great concern on our part with people who may go out in advance of any oil coming at all and try to get some hold harmeless agreement, either BP or some other potentially liable party,” McCollum said. “We also don’t’ want anybody to get ripped off by scam artists.”

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