Friday, December 26, 2014

So what did FPL get for Christmas? … by gimleteye

Corporations are people too, and which of God's children doesn't want more presents than they are meant to receive under the Christmas tree? Children can be selfish. 'Oh ma! I didn't want the little bike. I wanted the Big Bike!' Corporations can be selfish, too. Especially, of course, when selfishness is codified in year end bonuses based on profitability.

On Christmas Day, the Miami Herald opined against its loyal advertiser, Florida Power and Light. It was a very rare criticism. In fact, the editorial, "Shame on the PSC", aimed directly against Gov. Scott's appointees on the public service commission; a rubber-stamp for the state's largest utilities. (We blogged Scott's disastrous appointment of Jimmy Patronis, recently. But that was an early Christmas present, too, for the most anti-environmental Republican legislator in Tallahassee.)

FPL expected a lot this Christmas. The state's utilities and FPL, in particular, were the largest contributors to Rick Scott's gubernatorial campaign against Charlie Crist.

God knows FPL's Christmas stocking was overstuffed as a result; it gets to frack in Oklahama and charge Florida ratepayers, it gets to push Florida consumers further away from economic alternatives like solar energy.

Wouldn't you think that would be enough, o little children of Bethlehem? There's more.

On December 23rd, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection signed -- far from the prying view of any media -- a highly controversial Administrative Order regarding FPL's Turkey Point Power Plant and the failing cooling canal system that has contaminated through a wide plume of hyper saline water the aquifer surrounding the plant, spreading toward Homestead to the west and Biscayne National Park to the east.

The thorny issue of FPL's bad faith over decades, spurning the intent of legal agreements with the state of Florida to assure that the cooling canal system would work or else, threatens to interrupt the long process that could lead to two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point that would make the facility the largest nuclear power plant in the nation in the area of Florida most vulnerable to sea level rise within the service lifetime of the reactors. (We have extensively blogged on FPL; our archive under "Turkey Point" or "FPL" is filled with more information.)

For months, environmental organizations have been fretting over an anticipated response by the Scott administration to an early draft (we blogged about it) circulated earlier this year. Environmentalists were shocked that FPL was laying the groundwork to avoid any punitive damages for repeated violations of its agreement with the state of Florida through the principal authority -- as opposed to bureaucratic -- for analyzing water pollution. That science capacity is administered through the authority of the governing board of Rick Scott appointees: the South Florida Water Management District.

Although I haven't had time to get feedback from scientists and experts, my review of the attached Administrative Order is that basically FPL is getting what it wants for Christmas at Turkey Point. The Order sets out the path for the District, over a number of years, to wash its hands of the mess at Turkey Point and to empower the politically charged Florida Department of Environmental Protection to deal with the costly issues the same way that Santa's helpers in the North Pole work all year to load Santa's sleigh that one special night of the year.

The devil is in the details, and there are lots of lawyers who know perfectly well how to make the details bend to political will. This, Floridians, is what you voted for in November:


Unknown said...

Looks like they kept the short term monitoring in place so they could focus on dodging the long term accountability. That would suggest FPL is betting on the TPN water problems to worsen over time, suggesting that the cooling water system is as out of control as we fear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for covering a somewhat obscure but crucial topic.

A Qui Tam suit on behalf of citizens to enforce the state's rights in these agreements, if it can be fashioned to work within the framework of precedent, might be productive.

Anonymous said...

How many tons of toxic waste are stored on site? National security issue so you will never know.

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of locals pushing back on this. From the county regulators to cities in South Dade, environmental groups and individual activists.

Although its always hard to see a victtory in a mess like this, keeping the monitoring going is an accomplishment and if I understand it the Water district stays in charge of monitoring until the salt density decreases to about a third of what it is now. FPL wanted to do away with monitoring completely and put the power plant regulators in charge of the impacts of the cooling canals on our drinking water supply.

Thank you to all the locals who toiled behind the scene to gve us a chance at protecting our water supply.

Anonymous said...

The chance is about 10 percent.

Cindy Lerner said...

The buck stops with the County! both theMayor and the Commission have a responsibility to protect our drinking water supply and they have failed us miserably. instead of heaping all the blame on the industry, doing what it is meant to do, we must be blaming the Mayor !
So, when the new commission committees convene in January and we have a new Commission Chair, the public advocates and organizations should be on the floor demanding a more aggressive protective policy and action by the. County. And I like the idea of a lawsuit filed to protect the public interest.

Anonymous said...

FPL buys votes from weak and greedy elected officials.