The Florida Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands that provides important habitat for various endangered and endemic species. The Everglades compromise a vast interconnected mosaic of sensitive and diverse ecosystems that have been severely degraded through human development, pollution, climate change and disruptive water-management activities. Since 1991, Earthjustice has been fighting to conserve and restore this national treasure.
In the spring of 2007, Earthjustice challenged a proposal by Florida Power & Light to build a massive coal-fired power plant at the edge of the Florida Everglades. Coal-fired power plants are among the nation’s largest sources of air pollution and spew greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide which can accelerate global warming and hazardous contaminants such as mercury which threaten water quality and wildlife. The proposed Glades plant would be the biggest in the nation and would further degrade the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and local estuaries.
Public Service Commission documents showed that Florida Utilities has not taken any steps to reduce overall electricity demands over the past 10 years. By investing in energy efficiency technologies, Californians use less than half the electricity than Floridians do, even though California’s population is significantly larger. Instead of using available technologies, Florida Power & Light is proposing to saddle its customers with expensive, outdated and dirty coal technology that would lock in high prices for utility customers.
In June of 2007, the Florida Public Service Commission unanimously voted to reject the proposal. The board denied the company’s request to build the massive plant after reviewing evidence regarding climate change, the lack of energy-reducing conservation measures and the cost effectiveness of the project.
Two years after Earthjustice successfully blocked the project, Florida Power & Light announced they would invest $300 million to build a 75 megawatt solar facility to replace the proposed coal plant. The facility was completed in 2010 and is now the largest solar thermal plant in the eastern United States.
Earthjustice will continue to use the power of the law to conserve natural resources and stop projects that exacerbate climate change and degrade public health.