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Sierra Club, gay and lesbian group call out Kathleen Peters on environmental transparency

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Sierra Club and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund have accused state Rep. Kathleen Peters of hypocrisy in her recent call for public notice of contamination.

Peters’ proposed legislation, they say, is just a Band-Aid for a deeper problem and does nothing to hold polluters accountable. In addition, the two groups say Peters has accepted thousands in donations from Mosaic and the oil and gas industry.

The organizations’ charges come in the wake of Peters’ recent announcement that she will sponsor legislation to require public notification of contamination to our environment within 24 hours.

The groups released this statement:

“Her announcement was triggered by the discovery that Mosaic’s phosphate pit was spewing hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive water into the Floridan aquifer, a water source for 10 million people, including Pinellas County and the city of St. Pete. The company waited three weeks before telling anyone.

“While Kathleen Peters is calling for transparency after an environmental disaster, her record shows that she has voted repeatedly to allow unfettered fracking in Florida. This dangerous system of oil and gas extraction can cause sinkholes like the Mosaic disaster and even earthquakes. Florida’s fragile, shallow limestone subsurface is uniquely vulnerable to sinkhole disasters.

“Earlier this year, Peters voted for HB 191, allowing fracking in Florida, and making it illegal for local communities to ban fracking. She also voted for a measure that would have effectively shielded fracking companies, by making it difficult for the public to learn about the toxic chemicals used in the fracking process. She joined with other fracking industry legislators when she voted against several efforts that would have required additional environmental and public health protections that would have forced the fracking industry to study and disclose the impact of fracking chemicals on prenatal health and that would have prevented fracking companies from using carcinogenic chemicals.

“Pinellas County is one of the many Florida counties that have banned fracking. Yet Peters voted to allow it anyway, and to ignore the will of the voters by passing a state law that preempts their ability to ban fracking.

“‘Let’s be clear, Kathleen Peters is calling for Band-Aid transparency, but not accountability,’ said David Harbeitner, political chair of Sierra Club Suncoast Group. ‘Her position is essentially that she’s OK with fracking and the inevitably catastrophic environmental damage it can cause as long as the offending companies tell consumers within 24 hours of a toxic release.’

“Peters has a cozy relationship with the polluters at the center of the Mosaic disaster and the oil and gas fracking industry. She has directly taken at least $500 from Mosaic’s political committee, the Florida Phosphate Committee. However, her political committee, Florida Speaks, has accepted $25,000 from other political committees directly supported by large contributions from Mosaic and thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry.”

Peters denies that she voted in favor of fracking. Her vote, she has said, was against fracking, which she opposes.

Peters, a Republican, is facing a challenge for her HD 69 seat from Democrat Jennifer Webb.

The election is Nov. 8.

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