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David Guest's blog

Down here in Florida, we are continuing our fight against the giant, destructive phosphate strip mines that trash our landscapes and pollute our water.

Our latest legal battle aims at some incredible strong-arm corporate tactics that Mosaic Phosphate is using to shut out local citizens and get its local land-use approvals to mine in the watersheds of the gorgeous Peace River in Southwest Florida. Read the full story.

Jan. 8 was a sweet day in Florida, and I’m not talking about the weather.

On that day, the state's Public Service Commission voted for a new energy mandate: the state will get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—wind, solar, hydropower, or biomass—by 2020.

"We want to be a leader in this country in solar and wind," Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter said. "We want to establish a dynamic and vibrant marketplace."

With a single vote on Dec. 2, Florida took real leadership in the fight against global warming.

After years of head-in-the-sand policy making, this is a welcome change. We have Gov. Charlie Crist to thank: he proposed that Florida adopt clean car standards patterned after those in California.

Smack in the middle of a groundwater shortage that had Southwest Florida officials begging people to use as little water as possible, agricultural operations opened their pumps wide and flooded millions of gallons of water wastefully over their fields.

They had legal permits to do this, permits issued by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a taxpayer-funded water authority. We sued the water management district two years ago. On October 30, a Florida Appeals Court finally ruled in our favor.

I just finished a year-long appointment on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change. We released a blueprint that, if put into action, would make Florida one of America's most aggressive states in tackling climate change.

We studied the gamut: alternative energy sources, vehicle emissions, landfill gases, forestry practices, building construction, electricity demand you name it.

The result is an ambitious set of reforms which we believe would cut Florida's greenhouse gasses 34 percent by 2025.

We won a significant victory in our phosphate case on Oct. 6. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit that gave Mosaic Phosphate the go-ahead to destroy 480 acres of high-quality wetlands within Southwest Florida's Peace River watershed.

Our court case is ongoing, but the Corps decision to suspend the permit shows that the permit didn't comply with the law and should never have been granted.

In its letter, the Corps said: "The Corps has determined that it is in the public interest to revisit the analysis in support of the permit decision."

The phosphate mines in Florida are so damaging that their ugly scars on the planet can be clearly seen from space. Florida's public rivers, lakes, streams, and coastal waters pay the price for these corporate strip mines, year after year.

Attorney Monica Reimer in Earthjustice's Florida office has filed an important lawsuit that challenges federal approval for one of these mines near the beautiful Peace River outside Bradenton.

By this time, most everyone has heard about the historic deal in the Florida Everglades: U.S. Sugar will sell the state of Florida 187,000 acres that sit between giant Lake Okeechobee and Everglades National Park.

That's 187,000 acres that will no longer be drenched with poison pesticides and fertilizers. It is industrial farmland that blocks the Everglades' natural water flow—now it can hold and filter water as it moves south toward Florida Bay.

To say we're ecstatic down here is a massive understatement. This is the largest conservation deal in Florida history.

Earthjustice's Florida team has saved the state's seagrasses and fishing grounds from a legislative poison pill. David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida office, tells this tale of midnight chicanery...

The bill in the Florida Legislature seemed like a good thing: For the first time, Florida would impose fines on boaters who carelessly trashed seagrass beds in the state's protected aquatic preserves. The underwater marine nursery grounds can get chewed up by boat propellers, and the damage can last for decades.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.