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Graham leads new Conservation Coalition seeking to revive state programs

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham led a gathering of activists Wednesday calling for Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders to preserve the state’s water resources, while renewing its longstanding commitment to the environment.

“We need strong gubernatorial leadership to reverse the damage that’s been done,” Graham told a rally at the state Capitol.

Graham debuted Wednesday as leader of the Florida Conservation Coalition, which includes Audubon of Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida, the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, Trust for Public Land and League of Women Voters. The coalition plans to lobby Scott and the Republican-led Legislature to restore funding to water quality programs, the Florida Forever land-buying program, and Everglades restoration, which supporters say have been staggered by budget cuts since 2007.

Graham was joined by state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, Nathaniel Reed of 1000 Friends of Florida and representatives of environmental groups, which generally praised Scott’s environmental stance, but blasting legislative moves which reduced oversight and dollars for green programs.

Advocates derided the Legislature for approving a $210 million cut in water management district property taxes, which has led to wholescale staff layoffs and program reductions, the most profound occuring at the South Florida Water Management District. Graham said taxes were “reduced by the amount of two pizzas a year,” but that the cuts did wide-ranging harm to existing programs and services.

Environmentalists, though, withheld direct criticism of Scott, who campaigned for the reduction and embraced the  cuts. Instead, Graham, apparently buoyed by recent Scott comments which underscored the need for effective environmental policy and Everglades restoration, urged conservationists to “join Scott’s army.”

Graham also warned the coalition planned to hold lawmakers accountable for actions which hurt Florida’s environment.

“We want to alert the voters in 2012 who was responsible for what happened in 2011,” Graham said.

Sierra Club funds ad attacking West over drilling and choosing Klein

Monday, October 25th, 2010 by John Lantigua

The Sierra Club has pumped $800, 000 into last minute television ads for three Democratic Party Congressional campaigns around the country and one of them is the District 22 race in South Florida.

“With ‘Big Oil’ doing everything they can to try to buy back Congress, today the Sierra Club launched three new television ads in key congressional races – Michigan’s 7th District, Arizona’s 8th District, and Florida’s 22nd District,” said a press release by the environmental group.

In District 22, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein,D-BocaRaton, is locked in a tight race with GOP contender Allen West.

The ad being screened in South Florida pictures smoke spewing from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded April 20 and was finally plugged Sept. 9, not before dumping millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The ad also shows a pelican covered in oil and then superimposes West next to an offshore oil rig.

“For five months BP spewed oil into the gulf – polluting Florida beaches and devastating our economy,” says the narrator. “ But Allen West still supports drilling for oil off the Florida coast. And West says he ‘sees nothing about the situation in the Gulf that will change his mind’”

“No wonder West received thousands in contributions from oil companies,” continues the ad. “Ron Klein has a better way – protect our beaches and develop alternative energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ron Klein for Congress.”

The Klein/West race is believed to be the most heavily financed Congressional contest in the nation.
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