Environmentalists hope for a big crowd today at a hearing at Florida International University on a proposal for a set of power lines along the eastern border of Everglades National Park.
Florida Power & Light Co. wants to construct three sets of lines to carry electricity generated by the proposed expansion of the Turkey Point nuclear plant.
The company already owns a 7.4 mile corridor inside the park, and the proposal calls for transferring that land to the park in exchange for land along the edge of the park. The park says the swap would result in less impact on the park than if the company ran the lines through the corridor it currently owns.
"This will create an industrial horizon in Everglades National Park," said Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades organizer for the Sierra Club. "When people to to Shark Valley or ride down Tamiami Trail, there are points in the park where where they will see 15-story power lines on the horizon. This is a national park, the highest level of protection, and to allow this would be an abomination."
Dawn Shirreffs, Everglades restoration program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said her organization has obtained letters from around the country in opposition.
"We will be delivering a pretty massive load of letters from people nationwide who think it's inappropriate for Everglades National Park land to go to a for-profit utility for a powerline corridor," she said.
Everglades Earth First! has threatened to physically block any work to construct the power lines, according to a letter it sent to the Interior Department and FPL.
“Any and all development of nuclear power grid infrastructure (transmission lines, fill pads, access roads, drained or cleared vegetation) by Florida Power & Light (FPL) and its affiliates across Everglades National Park (ENP) and the East Everglades Expansion Area (EEEA) will be vigorously resisted by Everglades Earth First!” states the letter, posted on the group's web site,
. “We will physically defend the Everglades and blockade the path of any development with our bodies.”
Members of the group have been arrested in the past for sitting in trees to protest the expansion of the Scripps Florida Research biotech laboratory and blocking the entrance to the construction site of the FPL power plant in western Palm Beach County
"In light of failures and social and ecological implications caused by the meltdown at Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan," the letter continues, "any attempt to jeopardize the safety of the people of the state of Florida with new nuclear infrastructure and any attempt to further destabilize the Everglades bioregion, and specifically Everglades National Park, carries the potential implications of murder and ecocide. We can not, with full and healthy conscience, allow this to happen. We will not."