This blog was written by Andrea Cuccaro, former 1Sky Florida Organizer with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | February 15, 2011
This past weekend, over 60 climate activists arrived in costume to the 1Sky Swanky South Beach Pollution Party at the Carlton Hotel to show support for a national climate policy and a clean energy economy. In keeping with the party theme, many guests came in costumes representing their least favorite form of pollution – from South Miami’s mayor, Phil Stoddard, who was ‘crude oil’ and wore a large, dark plastic bag to Erik Ofengand, a volunteer organizer for1Sky and Greenpeace, who was a nuclear waste handler complete with a lab coat, goggles and warning signs. Some of the other party goers included Yohandre Larez (dressed like medical waste), Biscayne Times reporter Jim Harper (walking junk mail) and 1Sky volunteer Chauncy who has spoken out at multiple 1Sky events (pictured at the right).
Brian Scheinblum, owner of the Carlton Hotel which generously donated the space and provided low-cost drinks for attendees, noted that “It was great to participate with 1Sky for another great event. We hope that the party was a fun break for those in our community who are working so hard to move our country toward non-polluting renewable energy sources,” Scheinblum said. “We truly appreciate all their efforts.” And Scheinblum doesn’t just talk about reducing carbon pollution and using more clean energy, he walks the walk, too. Another property of his near the Carlton is the Clifton South Beach: a restored, eco-chic boutique hotel that uses solar panels, LED lighting, and an energy management system making it one of the greenest buildings in South Florida.
Other allies that supported this 1Sky Climate Action Party included a cycling group (pictured at left), which hosted a bike ride from the Omni Metro Mover Station in downtown Miami over the Venetian Causeway all the way to the beach, and a local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which promoted the event to its members as an after-party following a long day of doing dune restoration along the coast. Finally, a variety of local musicians supported the event from Tom Gorrio to Pocket of Lollipops to Michael Quinn, who offered an original piece about the BP oil spill.
The party wasn’t all music and socializing: guests learned about national efforts to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to reduce the health impact of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act and some chose to sign a petition supporting a state-wide ballot initiative to end drilling in state waters.
The idea behind Climate Action Parties was to have events where volunteers and activists could come together to socialize and plan for next steps in the campaign to realize climate and clean energy policies. Despite Congress’ failure to pass meaningful policies in the recent years, the fact that 16,000 people petitioned Florida’s U.S. Senators alone shows that momentum is building for collective action.
Although many, including President Obama and EPA Administrator Jackson, would prefer a legislative solution to carbon regulation, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that carbon dioxide is considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The Court directed the Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether that pollutant posed a risk to human health and, if so, to develop standards to regulate it along with other known pollutants through existing policies such as the 1970 Clean Air Act.
Not surprisingly, coal and other fossil fuel industries are now frantically lobbying Congress to try and rollback these and other public health protections through misguided, industry-friendly legislation. That’s why 1Sky supporters, such as those pictured to the left -Gray Read, daughter Victoria Stoddard and 1Sky Florida Organizer Andrea Cuccaro, attended this gathering to raise awareness and energize citizens to visit Congress in mass in a few weeks and tell them “Protect the EPA’s authority to limit emissions under The Clean Air Act!” Other meet ups and house parties are taking place in Orlando and Tallahassee, to be followed by visits to local offices of Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Andrea Cuccaro, 1Sky Florida Organizer to help organize a local office visit near you.