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Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition



announcements, rants and meeting notes from grassroots organizing in the Northeast Everglades



Updated: 2018-03-07T12:47:34.523-08:00

 



March 1st: Defeat the Racist Riviera Beach Bleach Plant Plan

2017-02-27T21:29:09.943-08:00

On February 9th, residents of Riviera Beach and environmental justice activists across the county were successful in compelling the Planning and Zoning Board to make a recommendation that would stop the Odyssey proposal and to encourage the City Counsel to deny any future plans to locate in the City of Riviera Beach.

(image)
Odyssey bleach plant in Tampa, FL
This Wednesday, March 1st, 6pm at Riviera Beach City Hall, the City Counsel meeting will take a final vote on the matter. But residents are concerned that the Counsel will pass this proposal in spite of the Planning and Zoning Board's conclusion.

The proposed site is zoned General Industrial with a "special exception" requirement which means that the plan can only be approved if it can show that it will do no harm to the community.

The site is adjacent to a large apartment complex, surrounded by low-income, African American residential areas, schools, churches, and a large food company. All of these are within the 1/2 mile evacuation zone required by the US Emergency Responder guidelines for facilities handling liquid bleach, which is a code 1791 product. This requires an evacuation plan and a hazmat plan. 

Odyssey's proposal for a Riviera facility is to store eight 40,000 gallon tanks at the Riviera Beach site, and distribute sodium hypochlorite by rail and by tanker truck throughout Florida. 

It appears that the initial scheme was intended to move quickly on Odyssey's site plan and application for a "special exception" without informing or requesting input from local residents, without doing and environmental impact study, and with no safety plans in case of catastrophe.

While this fight is taking place primarily in Riviera, the facility involves transport plans as well, meaning that all people concerned about this health hazard coming through in large tanker trucks should come to speak out against the public health threat of chlorine exposure throughout the county.

Opposition has come from local and regional groups including, the Riviera Beach Citizens Resources and Planning Counsel, the Federal Gardens neighborhood group,the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition and the Green Party of PBC.



Feb 9th Meeting on Massive Bleach Storage Facility Next to Residents of Riviera Beach

2017-02-07T07:42:30.382-08:00

(image)
From the Environmental Assessment by ERMI
The Riviera Beach Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) will be voting on approval for a massive bleach storage and distribution center this week, Thursday, Feb 9, 6:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers in Municipal Complex at 600 West Blue Heron Boulevard, 33404
 
News of the proposed facility, which seeks to store and 40,000 gallons of bleach and transport tankers during all hours of the day, only surfaced in December, and has received minimal coverage aside from a single story last month from CBS 12.

The conditions for approval (which can be viewed in the P&Z packet) say the plan must show that it will not harm the public interest, but the Environmental Assessment report conducted by a consulting firm, Environmental Risk Management, Inc (ERMI), lacks a cumulative impact assessment which shows all the other industrial facilities surrounding Riviera, all of which individually swear they are doing no harm, but collectively pose an environmental justice nightmare where racism is undeniable.

The Environmental Assessment also gives minimal information about impacts from a large accident in transportation, both on public health and on the waterways which drain into a sensitive and already overburdened coastal ecosystem.

The bleach plant would sit adjacent to a residential community, including home day care facilities.

PBCEC supports residents of Riviera Beach in asking the P&Z Board to conduct a series of public meetings to fully inform the community of this proposal.




Mass Civil Disobedience to Stop the Sabal Trail Pipeline from crossing the Suwannee River

2016-12-28T22:34:20.192-08:00

The following is a call to action from Sabal Trail Resistance in North Florida: Join us in putting a wrench into the gears of the pipeline machine. This will be a mass sit-in to stop the Sabal Trail fracked gas pipeline construction from drilling under the Suwannee River in Live Oak, FL. Schedule: Friday, Jan 13th, 4 - 6pm, we will hold a direct action and know your rights training for all participants (not just people risking arrest), at Water is Life Camp. For location see: www.facebook.com/WaterIsLifeCamp/ (Please do not bring dogs.) Saturday, Jan 14th, 11am, we will gather at the Suwannee River State Park parking lot. Please plan to carpool as there is a $5 fee per car to park here. We will march on the drill site at 1pm sharp. Sunday, Jan 15th, 8am till release, solidarity rally at jail and/or courthouse which may be holding water protectors. [Locations TBA] Additional Details: There are several options for camping in the area, including two free encampments and additional public and private campgrounds in the area. Not everyone who attends needs to risk arrest, but we ask all to consider their role in making this a successful event. It will be a "power in numbers" moment. There will be clear zones for higher risk and lower risk participants. We will plan to avoid the risk of felony charges for the mass action, and anticipate any arrested will be released by the following morning. If you plan to participate in civil disobedience, please consider having funds available for bail/bond (or having your network assist in fundraising.) If arrests occur, we believe that a "necessity defense" exists, which explains that "the degree of harm actually caused [will be] a reasonably proportionate response to the degree of harm threatened." This legal defense strategy explains that laws can and should be broken when there is a real, imminent risk occurring... For example, peircing an aquifer that millions rely on for drinking water to transport a hazardous substance for private profit. We encourage all who participate to request a public defender, retain their right to speedy trial and demand a trial by jury to present their defense. More details on Sabal Trail Resistance can be found here.   A list of other STR supporters can be found here. Note: This is one action in a series of many to occur before and after. This one action is aimed at building broader support and creating a higher level of pressure on the system to stop this pipeline. If you can only make it out for one weekend this month, make it this one.[...]



Reflections on Beating Back Biotech in the Northeast Everglades

2016-11-18T07:16:46.080-08:00

An inside look at how Earth First! has helped keep a burgeoning biotech economy at bay for more than ten years in the venture capitalist mecca of Palm Beach County

by Panagioti Tsolkas / Earth First! Newswire

“…I guess it’s sort of an anti-technology backlash, anti-globalization. I don’t think that’s a prevalent attitude in this county.”  –Bevin Beaudet, Scripps Program Manager for Palm Beach County, USA Today, January 2005

(image) Twelve years ago, when I joined the effort to stop the planned biotech city in the county where I lived, I didn’t anticipate that we could outlast—in some cases even outlive—our opponents. But that may be the case for our rag-tag group of grassroots activists in a decade-plus fight against the industry’s plans in South Florida.

In 2004, then-Governor Jeb Bush called biotech an “unstoppable train” while unveiling his plans to plow through 6,000 acres of swamp, forest and farm for a biotech city. Two years, several lawsuits and a couple dozen headline-making protests later, his plan lay near-dead in the swamp water of the Northeast Everglades. Scripps, the primary company associated with the plan, did finally drag itself up and open the doors on “Phase I” of their laboratories on a local university campus with a mere 10, 000 square feet of lab space; a minuscule fraction of their initial plan.

Within the last several years, Scripps, the state’s model for the speculated biotech boom, has shown deep internal cracks in its bureaucratic operations and financial stability. With the operation in disarray and opposition still on the move, the next few years could spell the end for what I viewed over ten years ago as a biocentrist’s wildest nightmare...




JOIN US NOV. 19TH - SAVE THE BRIGER - STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH NO DAPL & AND STOPPING THE SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE

2016-11-18T06:56:59.006-08:00

When a forest is destroyed and replaced with corporate interests it creates the demand for pipelines and all the destruction that comes with it! The Fight for water doesn't stop at Standing Rock, North Dakota - It doesn't stop at the Sabal Trail Pipeline  - It stops when we all get together against the corporate interests who are destroying the planet for more 
strip malls, housing developments, and seedy deals made by politicians.

Scripps Biotech, United Technologies, and Kolter aren't just the run of the mill corporate interests. Scripps is a Biotech corporation that has plans for an animal testing facility, United Technologies is in the business of military weapons and was responsible for the cancer cluster in the acreage, and Kolter has proven time and time again they have no interest in preserving what makes Florida unique and great with their destructive methods of development.







                                            



Candidate forum on the Ag Reserve for the County Commission Election

2016-08-20T12:11:36.944-07:00


The Interfaith Justice League and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition is holding a candidate forum on the Ag Reserve and other environmental issues for all candidates for the County Commission on Thursday August 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation L'Dor Va-Dor, 3475 Woolbright Road, Boynton Beach, Florida on the northeast corner of Woolbright and Military Trail next to Enterprise Leasing.
 
The format will be as follows:  Each candidate will make an opening statement and then a follow up statement after all the candidates have spoken to respond to the others.  We will then take questions and comments from the audience and we will conclude with each candidate making a closing statement.
 



PBCEC Supports the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons' Rally Against Toxic Prison Slavery in Coleman, FL on Sept 10

2016-08-19T08:48:26.649-07:00

Rally to End Toxic Prison Slavery in Solidarity with Upcoming Nationwide Prison StrikeRe-posted from FightToxicPrisons.org Sept 9th is the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising in New York, where national attention was drawn to the problem of prisons in this country. This year there will public demonstrations in support of prisoners who have a called for a coordinated national work strike in response to extreme abuses they face, including toxic environments, discrimination and literal slavery based on the 13th Amendment which wrote prison slave labor into the U.S. Constitution. The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) is calling for action in solidarity with the IWW Union’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) and other prisoner-led groups in planning activities around Sept 9th. We are spreading the word to our prisoner contacts to invite friends and family on the outside to participate in these necessary efforts to address the violations of civil rights and environmental justice that still occur behind bars. The primary FTP event will occur on Sept 10th at 10am in front of the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) of Coleman, located at 846 NE 54th Terrace, Wildwood, Florida 34785. FCC Coleman, which warehouses over 7,000 prisoners, surrounded by mining operations.This location is the largest prison factory in the entire country, producing material goods for government agencies nationwide. Much of the very furniture which accommodates the offices of the bureaucrats that we live under is made by prison slaves at this facility. Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR, has over $34 million in contract obligation coming out of Bureau of Prison (BOP) facilities in Florida. This is three times higher than any other state in the country. In addition, this prison is also home to one of the most famous political prisoners in the world, Native American activist and warrior, Leonard Peltier, who has been incarcerated over 40 years for his participation in the 1973 stand-off at the Pine Ridge Reservation and the liberation struggle of his people who experienced genocide and witnessed ecocide at the hands of the government who now holds him prisoner. Also, it’s no coincidence that FCC Coleman is surrounded by a vast wasteland of rock mining operations, an industrial activity with a record of creating giant toxic ponds across Florida. Prisons all over the country are coupled with environmentally hazardous land uses that threaten prisoner’s health. As another example of this, the federal Bureau of Prisons is now proposing to build a new maximum-security prison and slave factory on top of a former strip mine site in the coalfields of Letcher County, Kentucky. Any federal prisoner could at any time find themselves transferred to this prison, subjected to the health risks associated with a site where the air, water and soil are polluted by decades of coal mining and processing, which is still ongoing in the surrounding mountains. Along with putting prisoners on a toxic site, the prison would also impact local people who live nearby, turning their community into a prison town. Construction alone will waste $444 million of federal tax dollars which could be used to address the crushing poverty that so often forces people into prisons in the first place. The proposed site also sits a mile from a rare pocket of eastern old-growth forest that is home to dozens of Appalachian plant and animal species listed as threatened or endangered. We feel that the existence of this industrialized, slavery-based system of mass incarceration stands as a primary obstacle to universal goals of freedom and harmony with the earth. Its continued existence is among the ultimate symbols of injustice in this country. Stop Prison Slavery!No New Toxic Prisons!End Mass Incarceration!Defend the Earth!Free All Political Prisoners! For more informat[...]



Briger developer Kolter embroiled in lawsuit over construction defects in Palm Beach Gardens

2016-03-15T00:23:59.330-07:00

Protestors were seen once again in front of Kolter's downtown West Palm office last week, but it wasn't PBCEC or Everglades Earth First! This time is was residents of the San Matera condo in Palm Beach Gardens fighting over construction defects at a Palm Beach Gardens condominium complex which are at the center of a $40 million lawsuit. We extend our sympathies to people who got ripped off by the crooks at Kolter. Read more here.



Reportback from PB Gardens Candidate Forum

2016-02-25T20:25:55.487-08:00

(image)
Image from the flyer handed out
Our presence was noticed. Thanks to the folks who came to help hand out flyers and hold a banner out front of the event.

We got over 200 flyers out to Gardens residents at the library and people attending the forum.
At least one person noted that he had also received the mailer we sent in December, and encouraged us to keep him and his neighbors in Palm Beach Country Estates in the loop as the development creeps further west, closer to their community.

We had a brief encounter with law enforcement, which resulted in library staff explaining that we could request permission to table any time we want out front of the high traffic library (for future reference... could be a great general outreach spot).

A local activist from PB Gardens, who has come to several meetings and protests, went inside the well-attended event and got in a question about development, with much support from the audience.

Let's keep the pressure on!



Join PBCEC in Protesting Scripps at Palm Beach Gardens Candidate Forum

2016-02-22T05:40:05.477-08:00

Thursday, February 25, 5:30 PM - 8 PM
at Gardens Branch, Palm Beach County Library, 11303 Campus Drive Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410

Tell Palm Beach Gardens Political Candidates to address the issues of Scripps' toxic biotech waste, United Technology's cancer clusters and the destruction of endangered species habitat in the Briger forest for animal testing labs.

The candidate's forum begins at 6:30pm.
It is sponsored by local Republican and Democratic Party groups, as well as the PBC Tea Party and other groups, so we anticipate a large crowd attending.



Please spread the word via this event page


More info on the forum here:
http://pbgwatch.com/2016/01/pbgwatch-to-co-host-council-candidate-forum-225/

More on Scripps and Briger
https://www.facebook.com/savethebrigerforest/?fref=ts



PBCEC's Invitation to Residents Neighboring the Briger Forest for Dec 5th Rally Against Corporate Cancer Clusters

2015-11-24T10:53:14.983-08:00

The following letter was sent by a local homeowner with support from PBCEC on 11/24/2015 to thousands of residents in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter and unincorporated Palm Beach County who live in communities surrounding the Briger property. [Details on Dec 5th Rally can be found here.]Greetings Neighbor,I am a homeowner in Palm Beach Country Estates. I’m sending this letter to ask for your help in protecting our community from over-development and hazardous pollution. Surely you’ve noticed that construction has begun in the Briger Tract forest on Donald Ross Road, across from the FAU campus.The current development plan entails clearing almost the entire 683 acres of forest on both sides of I-95, for homes, corporate offices, animal testing labs and biotech research. What you have not likely heard is what these corporations will actually be doing.          What hazardous materials will they be researching with?          What kind of waste will they create?         How will they dispose of it?         How could this effect property values?As you also may have seen in the news over the years, Phase II of The Scripps Research Institute intends to deal with high-level pathogens and toxic substances such as anthrax, Mad Cow disease, radioactive materials and genetically engineered organisms. In the past several months, USA Today has done a series exposing high-level “biolabs” and the frequency that they experience unreported accidents or operate without transparency nationwide. Their report listed Scripps’ facility on the Jupiter FAU campus as a problem facilitywith regard to failures in disclosing information needed to safeguard the public.On top of this is the addition of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) into the development plan for Briger. UTC is at the top of the suspect list for bringing a cancer cluster to the Acreage with their repeated toxic spills causing water contamination in Western Palm Beach County. While they have attempted to dodge responsibility for this, they cannot deny their record of repeated environmental violations.I am including links below for more info on Scripps and UTC so that you can follow up with your own research.But hope is not lost… yet.After communicating with the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC), I learned that the plan for development was supposed to require a Hazardous Waste Management Plan (HWMP). And while they initially broke ground last year without this plan in place, a series of legal challenges by PBCEC has forced them to produce one.Unfortunately the HWMP is inadequate, but it is a starting point to raise concerns. As you read this letter, PBCEC is heading for another legal challenge about this issue.While our County Commission—and the developers who control it—have been saying that Briger development is a done deal, the truth is that the fight is far from over. They have cut a deep scar into the forest, but 500+ acres remains, and they have not yet broken ground on laboratories or corporate facilities. Each step of the process will require additional permits.The developers expected to begin construction in 2011, but due to protests and legal challenges, they didn’t get their bulldozers in until 2015. The Scripps plan has been defeated before, when it was proposed out west on Northlake Boulevard. That was stopped in 2006, afterconstruction started. This development can be defeated again.If neighbors of the Briger forest can stop these developers from putting our families’ health at risk and dropping our property values, we will also save endangered species in this forest and stop the torture of primates, cats, dog[...]



Welcome to Palm Beach Gardens:

2015-11-20T09:59:37.193-08:00

Beware of Cancer Clusters and Killer Copsby Panagioti TsolkasPBCEC is hosting a demonstration on December 5th 2015 to "Defend Briger Biodiversity from Corporate Cancer Clusters"The group has been protesting plans to destroy the Briger forest to build a biotech city since 2009. One year ago, in November 2014, developers broke ground and have cleared over 100 acres despite all efforts to protect this unique forest which is home to many threatened and endangered species.Now the site is slated to become the home of a shady biotech research development which will generate high-level toxic waste without public transparency, including facilities operated by United Technologies the most likely suspect in bringing a cancer cluster to the Acreage.This development could not have happened without the City of Palm Beach Gardens’ approval, and specifically the actions of the Gardens police, who arrested protesters to literally clear the path for the bulldozers last year.In October 2015, this same police department was responsible for the senseless and brutal killing of Corey Jones, a young black musician from Boynton Beach whose car broke down in Gardens.The same system that is paving over rare forest habitat for corporate profits is putting cops on paid vacations for committing racist murders. This is not a local phenomenon—it’s happening all over the country.It is critical that environmental activists nationwide to make these connections, to view police brutality as an environmental justice issue and to stand in solidarity with movements against state violence.PBCEC has a strong history of challenging issues of environmental racism, some of which can be found in the links here. In relation to Scripps and biotech plans, PBCEC worked with residents of the Limestone Creek, a historic black community, to defeat plans for a Scripps spin-off biotech waste site in their Jupiter neighborhood.Please educate yourself on the realities of racist, violent police, and how this impacts the communities who are often also most impacted by environmental injustice and pollution. The success of an environmental movement to fundamentally change the society we live in must recognize these connections to grow stronger.For more info on the connections between police accountability and the earth defense come to this event:The Ecology of a Police StateDecember 5th 8pm in Lake WorthStonzek Theater (Click here for details)Participate in an evening of short films and discussion about the intersections of environmentalism, mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.$5 - $10 donation at the door (no one turned away)[...]



TOMORROW MORNING: Support Everglades Earth First! activists on trial blockading road used for construction in Briger Forest.

2015-11-04T19:43:48.858-08:00

Message from Everglades Earth First!https://www.facebook.com/events/1649626475298353/Tomorrowat 7:30am Starts in about 9 hours · 85°F / 76°F Partly CloudyShow MapPalm Beach County Courthouse205 N Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, Florida 33400Come out and support three Everglades Earth First! activists who are facing trial this week for blockading a road used for construction in Palm Beach Garden's Briger Forest.There will be a press rally at 7:30 am before court begins. To learn more about the lockdown and the campaign to Scrap Scripps/Save the Briger Forest, click the links below.Everglades Earth First! Media:http://evergladesearthfirst.net/2014/11/13/activists-find-flaws-in-permits-and-plans-for-land-clearing-and-relocation-of-endangered-plants-and-animals/News Channel 5:http://www.wptv.com/news/region-n-palm-beach-county/palm-beach-gardens/environmental-protest-closes-friday-classes-at-the-meyer-academy-in-palm-beach-gardens#Activists%20protest%20development%20in%20PBG%2C%20prompting%20school%20closure[...]



Call to Resist the 450th Celebration of Genocide and Ecocide in St. Augustine, FL on Sept 8th 2015

2015-08-18T00:01:31.828-07:00

Visit Resist450.org for details and launch locationThe Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition has joined the Resist 450 Coalition, consisting of statewide and national organizations. The following statement comes from Resist 450:We are planning to demonstrate our opposition to the City of St Augustine’s commemoration, which is honoring and re-enacting the landing of Pedro Menendez on September 8th. This re-enactment of Spanish conquistadors landing on present-day Florida is comparable to celebrating Adolf Hitler’s return for Jewish people. This ill-conceived landing will be at the Mission Nombre de Dios, 27 Ocean Ave, St Augustine, FL 32084 at 9:00am.We are welcoming everyone to join us at sunrise that morning as a group of conscious canoeists and kayaktivists paddle out to meet the re-enactment as we show our support for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and to uphold our responsibility to bring awareness that Mother Earth is the source of life not a resource for exploitation. Others will gather at the shore with signs and banners during the re-enactment.The Pedro Menendezimpersonator represents the European colonial mentality of domination and privilege. This misguided and illegal belief is empowered by the Catholic Church’s papal bulls, which directed Christians to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property.” As Pope Francis is traveling the world apologizing to Indigenous Peoples for the Church’s actions, the City of St Augustine is still celebrating these acts of terror and theft. We, the Resist 450 Coalition, intend to show that we do not share the same values as those that are attempting to glorify the colonial mentality.The City of St Augustine essentially became a prison town for Indigenous Peoples who were held at the Castillo de San Marcos. The origin of the City of St Augustine became the foundation for the abrogation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the blueprint for ecocide throughout the world.  This moment in history marks the beginning of what has become the United States Empire, built on genocide, ecocide, theft, slavery, war and exploitation of the Earth for profit. The "Doctrine of Discovery" is the root of the system that has brought the entire planet to the point of irreversible climate change, unprecedented period of mass extinction and the moral deterioration of society. This and other activities will take place as part of a week long camp from Sept 5 - 9, where Indigenous Peoples, activists and individuals wanting to be on the right side of history are invited to come together to promote peaceful solutions to assure the survival of the future generations of all life by addressing environmental, cultural and social justice issues. If you cannot attend the event in St. Augustine, the Resist 450 Coalition asks that you participate in planning solidarity demonstration in your own community. The list of cities with Spanish Consulatesoffers an appropriate opportunity to deliver the message to "Renounce the 450th celebration of Spain's genocidal war criminals and the doctrines that promote the destruction of Nature for profit." The Resist 450 Coalition also invites donations to assist in the planning of the camp and demonstrations. Donations can be made by clicking here. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="411" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/75KyBGREC20" width="676">[...]



PBC Environmental Coalition Supports the Prison Ecology Project... You should too!

2015-07-29T10:54:08.831-07:00

Earlier this month a Lake Worth-based organization, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), submitted a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides input on the agency’s EJ 2020 Action Agenda Framework, highlighting the lack of consideration for environmental justice among the millions of prisoners in the United States. The comment was co-signed by the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, along with 92 other social justice, environmental and prisoners’ rights organizations from across the country.HRDC has also announced the beginning of its Prison Ecology Project, an effort to organize at the intersection of mass incarceration and environmental pollution, and has launched a fundraising campaign to build off the recent EJ 2020 comment and fight against a new federal prison on endangered species habitat in southern Appalachia. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="413" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cUZm6-5S-UI" width="620">Please share this video with your local activists and social media networks “It’s encouraging to see the EPA attempting to increase the effectiveness of protecting vulnerable communities that have been overburdened by industrial pollution, but a significant component is missing when impacts on millions of prisoners and their families are ignored,” said Panagioti Tsolkas, coordinator of HRDC’s Prison Ecology Project. HRDC’s comment elaborates on examples nationwide which illustrate a clear need to protect prisoners as a population that faces extreme environmental justice impacts. For example, prisons and jails built on or near landfills, toxic waste dumps, Superfund cleanup sites and coal mining sites, or that are vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding and environmental hazards like contaminated water. The comment filed with the EPA can be found online here. According to the comment submitted by HRDC, there is overwhelming evidence that the population of people in prison represents one of the most vulnerable and uniquely-overburdened demographics in our nation. The comment notes that prison populations are almost entirely low-income and that black, Hispanic/Latino and Native Americans are consistently overrepresented in every one of the 50 states. Environmental permits which fail to meet the environmental justice standards set in place 20 years ago may violate the Civil Rights Act. Title VI of the Act explicitly prohibits discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funds; if an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency may lose its federal funding. The prison sector should not be an exception. “Those unfamiliar with the conditions in America’s prisons may balk at our allegations but the EPA cannot claim to be among the uninformed,” Tsolkas stated. On February 5, 2015, Tsolkas conducted an interview with an EPA representative from Region III who explicitly stated that environmental justice guidelines have not been applied to prisoners for the purpose of permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act because the EPA uses data that fails to take prisoner populations into account. EPA Region III, which encompasses the Mid-Atlantic, conducted an initiative in which numerous prison inspections by the agency resulted in enforcement actions between 1999 and 2011, ranging from issues surrounding the disposal of hazardous waste to violations of air and water standards, primarily due to prison overcrowding. The Department of Justice’s Office of  the Inspector General has also cited various violations of health, safety and environmental laws, regulations and Bureau of Prisons policie[...]



The Fight for Briger Forest Continues, Opponents Site Biolab Hazardous Waste as the Next Battleground

2015-07-23T17:08:09.418-07:00

Heavily-Redacted Documents from Scripps Biotech Give Local Residents Cause for Alarm in New Construction PlanPalm Beach Gardens, FL – Yesterday, the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) filed an amended challenge to the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) first proposed construction permit intended specifically for the biotech facility on the Briger forest. While a portion of the Briger has been under construction since November of last year, the development was limited to roads and clearing for the Alton residential area. This permit modification challenged by PBCEC is explicitly aimed at constructing in an 8-acre area for a road called Pasteur Boulevard which would be the access way for Scripps Phase II, a biotech laboratory facility handling high-level hazardous materials. A recent series of reports by USA Today exposed heavily redacted documents regarding the materials used by Scripps Biotech’s existing Florida facility. PBCEC activists say they found this very troubling.“They don’t want us to know what they’ll be handling, disposing, and transporting in our community. It’s a big red flag for those of us who live in the area, and anyone who uses the Intracoastal for recreation,” said Sandra Quirk, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens who joined PBCEC in asking for an Administrative Hearing on the issue. Over 200 other residents across the county also signed the initial PBCEC petition to SFWMD on the Pasteur Blvd permit.According to PBCEC’s Amended Petition for the Administrative Hearing Regarding Permits for Scripps Phase II Unit 2C—Pasteur Blvd: The Permit Modification No. 50-00610-S-24 for Unit 2C – Pasteur Boulevard is the first permit to be directly tied with Scripps Phase II for the biotechnology parcel of the development on the Briger Forest. Thus, our concerns regarding the lack of a Hazardous Waste Management Plan are relevant to this permit and must be addressed before the construction proceeds. Upon receiving confirmation of an Administrative Hearing, we will present evidence that biotechnology facilities, especially those rated biosafety level 3 and 4 (as is the Scripps Jupiter facility), regularly pose threats to public safety, and as such a rigorous Hazardous Waste Management Plan is necessary before construction of any aspect of Unit 2C (“Scripps Phase II”) begins.Along with submitting samples of Scripps’ redacted documents from the USA Today biolab report, the group has also presented maps indicating that the drainage off the property flows into the Intracoastal Waterway. [...]



Bird Walk and Next PBCEC Meeting

2015-05-20T11:13:08.975-07:00


Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition invites you to our...

Bird & Nature Walk at Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area

All Welcome - Especially Children and Families
Saturday June 6th at 8 a.m.

Make sure to bring:
• water
• walking shoes
• a hat
• binoculars if you have them!
We will bring natural bug spray and snacks

Meet at Frenchman’s Forest 12201 Prosperity Farms Road, Palm Beach Gardens
Questions? Call 561-503-5743

Join the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) in the fight to save the Briger Forest


The next PBCEC meeting is June 3rd, 2015

Its not too late to save the remaining 500 acres of the Briger Forest’s endangered species habitat from destruction.

When: 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month
Where: the Gardens Branch Library,
11303 Campus Drive PBG, FL.

Text “BRIGER” TO 84576 to get notice of important upcoming meetings and public hearings at City Hall and the South Florida Water Management District.

You Can Take Action Today!

Call the Mayor and tell him to preserve the Briger Tract (located off Donald Ross and 95) as an educational resource for our children.

Mayor Eric Jablin (561) 799-4102 ejablin@pbgfl.com



Protest Against Private Prisons Tomorrow: GEO Group’s Gulags Grasping for Green Approval

2015-04-28T10:32:08.390-07:00

Come out to the GEO Group Shareholders meeting protest in Boca Raton and bring an environmental message about the private prison industry's greenwashing. See below for some ideas.From the EF! Newswire  All the LEED certifications in the world can’t cover up the constant flow of atrocities associated with prisons-for-profit, but that’s not going to stop them from trying. Last month GEO Group garnered attention from the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) #GreenwashingTheGulags campaign for announcing that they had taken advantage of a publically-funded grant program to promote water conservation by installing a native landscape plan at the Desert View Modified Community Correctional which they run in drought-stricken Adelanto, California. Of course, the labor for the project was completed by prisoners, and now, where there was once just some dirt, there are well-arranged rocks. The landscape even includes rocks that were painted blue to spell out “GEO.” Despite the new rocks, GEO still draws over 140,000 gallons every day to operate that 700-person facility alone. Never mind the nearby 1,300-bed Adelanto Detention Facility they also operate to house immigrant prisoners. You can do the water math yourself, it’s not too complicated. The average prisoner requires about 200 gallons of water per day (well, a recent Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed federal prison actually put it at 214 gallons, but I’m trying to keep the calculations simple here.) That’s more than double the average that someone uses outside of a prison, according to the scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey who says that a person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day in their home. Oh, about that Adelanto Detention Facility, GEO expects to complete 640-bed expansion and begin intake by July 2015. That’s a total capacity of 1,940 immigrant prisoners awaiting deportation, being forced to use an extra 194,000 gallons per day more than they would if they were at home with their families. (If they are lucky enough to make it out alive.) You’ll be shocked to learn that GEO Group, the second largest private prison provider in the world, didn’t list these statistics among their website’s “Green Initiatives” and “Sustainability Tips.” (And they definitely didn’t put this issue on the agenda for their shareholders meeting later this month.) According to the “Going Green” portion of their site, “[f]or several years, The GEO Group has been tracking and analyzing its facilities’ utility efficiencies on a monthly basis.” But you’ll probably never be able to find out the results of that, because for the past 10 years GEO has also been fighting to be exempt from public records laws that require other government agencies to disclose what they are doing. But the most repulsive portion of GEO’s greenwashing is in their incessant bragging about LEED certifications. LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certifications are allegedly based on “environmental factors including but not limited to the sustainability of the site, the efficient use of water, energy, material and other resources, the quality of indoor air and overall environment, and the use of innovative and environmentally friendly technologies and strategies.” [Emphasis added by author. That’s right, it says quality of the overall environment.] Never mind that private prisons are consistently under-staffed (New Mexico found for-profit facilities understaffed by 10% or more) by consistently under-paid employees (a report from Texas showed [...]



Sat April 4th 8:00AM: BIRD WALK IN FRENCHMAN'S FOREST

2015-04-05T12:51:32.457-07:00

Sat April 4th  8:00AM: BIRD WALK IN FRENCHMAN'S FOREST12201 Prosperity Farms Road, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410, USA8:00AM Saturday, April 11th12201 Prosperity Farms Rd., Palm Beach Gardens 33410 On the morning of April 11th, Everglades Earth First! Will be leading a bird walk to highlight the biodiversity or Souther Florida and the destruction of the Briger Forest, which shares much of its ecology with Frenchman's Park.Bring walking shoes, a hat, and binoculars, if you have them! There are 114 documented species of birds in the park. Questions: comtact Ruddy at (707) 902-3262(707) 902-3262 or evergladesearthfirst@riseup.netYou can visit our website at scrapscripps.info for more info on the campaign. Suggested donation $5-10. Wheelchair accessible CallSend SMSAdd to SkypeYou'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype[...]



Protest Calls Attention to Clearing of the Briger Forest, Despite Police Interference

2014-12-09T21:59:04.726-08:00

by Everglades Earth First!On Friday, December 5, over 50 activists gathered for a rally outside of the Briger Forest in Florida’s Palm Beach Gardens. The group was protesting the Scripps Phase II project, which is currently clearing the 681-acre forest for the construction of a biotech city, complete with animal testing labs and shopping malls.The Briger Forest is a unique mosaic of scrub, flatwoods and wetlands. Florida has more endangered and threatened species than any other continental state, and the habitat found in the Briger Forest is increasingly rare, as so much of Florida’s southeastern corridor has been paved over for development. There are at least 13 species of plants and animals listed for protection likely present in Briger.Altering the rush hour traffic and neighboring communities to the destruction happening right behind the treeline, Friday’s crowd sang chants, flew flags, swung banners, and displayed signs in solidarity with the wildlife inside. The two-hour protest was completely peaceful, with the exception of one element: the police. Despite the fact that this was a legal gathering of families, students, activists and children engaging in free speech activities, Palm Beach Gardens police—many undercover—surrounded the protest, blocked traffic, followed vehicles, covertly filmed protesters, prohibited participants from accessing public roads, and used loudspeakers to shout their opinions and drown out the chants of the crowd. Protesters are told they cannot protest on the public roads in front of a recently-cleared section of the Briger. Only days ago, the area directly behind this fence was dense with trees, shrubs, and animal life.Police prevent the public from getting footage of the leveled section of forest visible from the road.This was not surprising to Everglades Earth First!ers, due to past experience, and in light of a Palm Beach Post article released the day of the protest. In the article, titled “Palm Beach Gardens Chief: Briger protest could endanger people,” the police chief claimed that he was concerned about Everglades Earth First! causing harm to businesses and individuals, based on the fact that we posted a link to a book called Ecodefense on our website. The police chief is referring to the fact that an article written by the Fire Ant about a claim of sabotage in the Briger Forest was shared on evergladesearthfirst.net last June, and that the tactic referred to in the article was also mentioned in the book Ecodefense. When EEF! reposted the article, we included a preface stating “this tactic is not one that Everglades Earth First! would engage in.” If we are to follow the Police Chief’s logic, we would come to the conclusion that he himself is a radical environmental activist, since he has browsed our website, clicked on links, and shared content he found with a local newspaper.The purposes of the Police Chief’s accusations seem to be two-fold. First, they’re an attempt to discredit Everglades Earth First!—a reaction to the fact that our demonstrations and messaging are steadily gaining large amounts of public support. Second—and much more importantly—these accusations are intended to draw attention away from the actual crimes being committed in the Briger: the illegal, unpermitted clearing of rare forest.On November 13, we published an article outlining the current clearing of the Briger Forest, which is taking place without proper permits and despite a lack of adequate assessments of environmental risks the project poses. Flaws and[...]



Everglades Earth First! Lockdown Halts Destruction of Florida’s Briger Forest

2014-11-07T09:31:01.290-08:00

Re-posted from the Earth First! Newswirefrom Everglades Earth First!PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL— Community activists with Everglades Earth First! have halted what they call Kolter Development’s “illegal” construction in Palm Beach Gardens’ Briger Forest. A disabled vehicle is sitting in the road at the construction entrance to the site and two people have locked their bodies to it. This week work crews began clearing trees for the construction, which has been mired in controversy for years. If completed, the development would destroy the 681-acre Briger Forest, one of the largest unprotected forests of its size in the southern region of the state.Update: Three activists have now been arrested, while the van continues to blockade the entrance to the construction zone. Donate to their bail fund.“We’re here stopping a crime; the illegal destruction of the Briger Forest. Kolter Group Co. is violating the Endangered Species Act and operating without all the proper permits fully approved,” Said Ryan Hartman. “The time for compromise is over. If we don’t take direct action and put our bodies on the line to protect what we have left, developers will pave over and pollute every last inch of this place.”Groups like Everglades Earth First! and the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition (PBCEC) have been fighting to protect the Briger Forest since 2010. Last winter a justice department lawyer admitted to PBCEC’s lawyer Bill Eubanks that there were no practical alternatives to site layout designs that could both benefit continued snake use of the site and also satisfy the project’s purpose and need, effectively sentencing to death any Eastern Indigo Snake on the property. The Eastern Indigo Snake is one of 13 state and federally listed animal and plant species whom the Briger is suitable to support. A member of PBCEC is also appealing permits for construction needed from the South Florida Water Management District. Beyond the legal challenges the groups have gathered hundreds of petition signatures, held demonstrations and even staged a six-week tree-sit in the forest to protest the development.“Kolter and Palm Beach County have had a corrupt deal from the beginning. It is a crime against nature for developers to keep bulldozing over wild South Florida in order to perpetuate an animal torturing biotech expansion agenda.” Said Ashley Lyons.Since the early 2000’s, Jeb Bush has tried to lure the Biotech industry to Florida with heavy state and local subsidies including this project and the construction of a campus for biotech company Scripps Florida. In the past few years Scripps has received about half a billion dollars in state subsidies for new facilities and has an agreement to lease the county owned portion of the property for $1 dollar a year ensuring their corporate welfare for years to come.With the construction of a massive primate breeding facility in Hendry County, the “progressive” biotech industry is solidifying it’s future of inhumane animal testing and Scripps will be no exception. Scripps in Lajolla, CA has a history of testing on primates and Scripps Phase II will more than likely vivisect primates if constructed.Everglades Earth First! promises to continue fighting the development every step of the way.“We’re going to fight this project until it’s stopped because this forest is worth fighting for.” Said Rachel Kijewski.For more information visit www.ScrapScripps.infoShare this:[...]



For a Greener Way

2014-11-07T09:26:32.240-08:00

Or, Why you should come to the meeting against a new road on 7th Ave South in Lake Worth, Nov 6th, 6pm This is 7th Ave South at F Street. Should this really be cleared for a paved road?[UPDATE: Following this well-attended community meeting, city staff said they are going back to the drawing board for 7th Avenue South. Nice work folks!] When I went out to knock on doors in the neighborhood surrounding 6th Avenue South yesterday—spreading the word about an attempt to pave a new road—I was reminded of the years I spent in the area working with families in a community garden on 6th Avenue and F Street.After 8 years of growing fruits, vegetables and community bonds, the land we had worked was bulldozed, in 2007, by the forces of greed and indifference. One year later the City of Lake Worth would spend millions to renovating the "gateway" corridors to get people from I-95 to the east side of town with a landscaped, whitewashed view of the south side. It was obvious at the time that the politicians behind the "gateway zoning" plan didn't give a f--k about how people who lived there would be impacted.But now that plans to pave new roads on the south side of town or underway, the truth of it is an insult added to to injury. Let's review some of the history in this neighborhood, home to the tragic stories of both Nathaniel Brazill and the ValentM-mn family massacre: There are over 75 square blocks from "A" Street to Dixie and Lake Ave to 12th Ave South, without a single public park or playground.From "A" Street to Dixie, there is not a single crosswalk to get across 6th Avenue South.Over the past 15 years, the Theis & Sons beer distributor was allowed by the city to destroy a small park on the south side of Lake Ave, and then later cut off access to 4th Avenue, effectively creating a 6 block wall for the residents between Lake Ave and 6th Ave South... then move out of town, abandoning their entire facility—empty to this day.Within the same several years of losing the community garden on F Street, a lot on H Street with one of the biggest ficus trees in town, which we were fighting to make into a park, was also bulldozed and left vacant.Which brings me to today, and why I am joining with neighbors, as a representative of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, to stop the paving of 7th Ave South. Lake Worth is seeking to use CDBG funds for the paving 7th Ave South in order to accommodate the new development on F Street and 6th Ave South.But CDBG funds are not supposed to serve the interests of a developer. They are actually mandated by the federal government to assist in improving blighted neighborhoods, with a priority placed on gathering community input before moving forward. Paving a road where it is not desired by the immediately impacted community would, for example, be a misuse of the CDBG funds.All this brings me to the point of this. We're hoping you can come to join us at 6pm on the corner of A Street and 7th Avenue South.We will be walking the path of the proposed road with city staff, neighbors and community members. But instead of envisioning what the road will look like (as the city says they plan to do) we will be explaining to the city's representatives what we want. That is most easily summed up as:Improving safety on 6th Avenue by adding crosswalks and a possible traffic light at D Street  Creating a stronger plan to increase public green space, making better use of unpaved avenues for greenway[...]



Scripps CEO gets unanimous vote of no confidence from faculty; Reports $21 million deficit

2014-07-11T17:38:51.670-07:00

The following two article offer some insight on internal conflicts that, with any hope, could tear the corporation apart before it destroys the Briger Forest for new labs for its profit-driven animal testing and genetic engineering research. Corruption and turmoil comes as no surprise from an operation whose previous CEO, Richard Lerner, was a scientists for the tobacco industry... ------------------------------------------- Scripps Faculty Call For Ouster Of CEO Michael Marletta Scripps President and CEO Marletta Credit: David Freeman/Scripps Research InstituteProposed merger with USC angers researchersBy Elizabeth K. WilsonUnited in dissent, faculty at biological research powerhouse Scripps Research Institute are reportedly calling for the resignation of the organization’s president and CEO, chemist Michael Marletta. At issue is a June 16 announcement that Scripps is considering merging with or being acquired by the comparatively wealthy University of Southern California, in order to stabilize Scripps’ increasingly shaky financial outlook. Scripps faculty have vehemently opposed this option. In a June 20 e-mail sent to Marletta and Scripps’ trustees board chair Richard A. Gephardt, 10 faculty department chairs and the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies expressed “deepening concern for the future of our beloved institution.” In the e-mail, faculty members say they are confident Scripps can and should remain independent. “We believe that the proposed path with USC would destroy much of what has been built and what we and others in the community value so much,” the group writes. Marletta took over leadership of Scripps from longtime president and CEO Richard Lerner in January 2012. He is also a member of C&EN’s advisory board. Marletta served as chair of the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley, before moving to Scripps. Scripps, a private research organization with campuses in San Diego and Jupiter, Fla., had a $398 million operating budget in 2012. It relies mostly on grants and, to a lesser, extent philanthropic donations for its funding. In 2013, 85% of its revenue came from the National Institutes of Health, according to credit rating agency Fitch Ratings. But in recent years, competition for NIH funding has increased as the federal agency’s budget has stagnated. Meanwhile, Scripps is projecting a $21 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.  “The funding climate has never been more challenging for biomedical research institutes, universities, and medical schools,” Marletta tells C&EN. A chemistry faculty member, who agreed to speak to C&EN anonymously, says that faculty in all departments at Scripps, including chemistry, formally gave a near unanimous vote of no confidence in Marletta. The source sides with those calling for Marletta’s resignation, saying Marletta’s vision of the future of Scripps and those of the faculty “no longer align.” Marletta adds that further discussions to address the conflict are imminent. “As we move forward, representatives from the faculty, administration, and board are coming together to thoughtfully review a range of options for the institute’s future,” he says. Chemical & Engineering News------------------[...]



Scripps Project at Briger Forest: Enviros File Second Legal Challenge

2014-07-11T10:12:44.407-07:00

Briger Forest in Palm Beach Gardens, threatened by ScrippsBy Fire Ant, from New Times, Jun. 18 2014Palm Beach Gardens city leaders greenlighted the bulldozers early this month, cheering on the clearing of Briger Forest, the last major tract of undeveloped land along I-95 in Palm Beach County. Jobs! Progress! Townhomes!But as night follows day, local environmental activists soon replied with a renewed assault on the developers' plans, pressing on with a challenge to the South Florida Water Management District's permits for the project.See also: Scripps Florida Expansion Faces New Legal Roadblock, Environmental ChallengeBriger Forest, while not virgin, is relatively unspoiled. Straddling I-95 north of Palm Beach Gardens, covering almost 700 acres of land, it is a mix of hardwood forest, freshwater marshes, and prairie, an important locale for migrating birds. In addition to the Eastern Indigo Snake, an endangered species, it is home to the gopher tortoise, wood stork, snowy egret, and hand fern. The developers' plans are tied to the local establishment's Ahab-like quest for the White Whale of bioscience dollars, the idea that public investment in projects like the Scripps Research Institute will ultimately bring a flood of money and jobs to the area.(Meh.) Instead of wildlife, the suits see about 5 million square feet of biotech and office space on part of the Briger Tract, thousands of homes, a 300-room hotel, and assorted retail space.The petition to the SFWMD, brought by three representatives of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, charges that the district has failed to assure (1) adequate measures to protect the Eastern Indigo Snake and other Briger species and (2) a hazardous waste management plan sufficient to protect residents of the proposed housing, as well as to prevent pollution of the Intracoastal Waterway. The petition charges:the current permits applied for cannot be approved without the submission of a hazardous waste plan at this part of the application process. The Scripps Research Institute of Florida across from the Briger Tract already tests on dangerous viruses and bacterias, uses radioactive substances, tests on countless mice and flies, and will be testing on dogs, cats, and even primates if Phase II opens its doors. With families within the planned development and families/individuals already living around the development, it is irresponsible to not provide this as public information and require it before approval of your permit.The SFWMD's position -- as stated in an order of May 20 in which the enviros' original petition was denied, with leave to amend -- is that the petitioners lack standing to challenge the permits and that the objections to the permits have already been adjudicated.The enviros' latest filing mirrors charges brought in a notice of violation filed last fall with the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. While neither agency has filed a formal response, FWS spokesman Ken Warren emailed this to New Times:We're standing by the decision outlined in our biological opinion issued on this project on March 23, 2011. We have no plans to amend or update that opinion. The bottom line: We don't believe this individual, specific project jeopardizes the continued existence of the federally listed eastern indigo snake.Do we really need more housing in Palm Beach County, so much so that Briger Fo[...]



Anti GE Tree Activists Kicked Off Florida University Campus, Spied on by FBI

2014-07-11T10:13:42.455-07:00

by Maureen Nandini Mitra – December 2, 2013reposted Dec 11th 2013 from the Earth Island Journal Colleges and universities offer little room for informed discourse on plant biotech A few months ago, while reporting an article about genetically engineered trees for Earth Island Journal’s Autumn issue (read the story here), I had a mighty hard time locating plant biologists or genetic engineers at academic institutions who were willing to talk about the possible risks of growing GE trees in massive plantations. It seemed there was little debate over this controversial issue within the biotech community on college campuses — the very places where most of the research into GE trees is carried out. Photo by Steve McFarland  Critics say there's little debate over this controversial issue within the biotech community on college campuses — the very places where most of the research into GE trees is carried out.So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when I heard that a group of environmental activists who were scheduled to make a presentation on GE trees at the University of Florida in Gainesville last month were booted off the campus, charged with trespassing, and banned from the university grounds for three years. What did come as a bit of a surprise was news that the FBI, too, was keeping tabs on the activists.Genetically modified strains of trees like eucalyptus, pines, poplars, and fruit trees are being tested in hundreds of trial plots across the world, including the United States. In the US, except for a GE papaya tree variety that is grown commercially in Hawai‘i, there are no commercial GE tree plantations — yet. (The US Department of Agriculture is considering a proposal to grow GE eucalyptus in commercial plantations.) Some environmentalists are concerned that transgenic trees will promote industrial monoculture plantations that could have a huge impact on forest biodiversity.The Gainesville campus GE tree presentation was part of a multi-week speaking tour, "The Growing Threat: Genetically Engineered Trees and the Future of Forests," organized by the Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, and Everglades Earth First! The speakers were traveling to campuses in several southern states to raise awareness about the proposed commercial release of genetically engineered, freeze-tolerant eucalyptus trees in the US South.The talk had been scheduled for October 28, a Monday. A conference room had been booked at the university’s McKnight Brain Institute a month in advance. But four days before the event, the institute cancelled the booking. The institute officials first said it was because they had to “give priority to brain and neuroscience related functions.” On being pressed for clarification, they said the AV equipment in the room wasn’t working and they couldn’t offer an alternative space. The university student who had booked the room checked the institute’s calendar and found that there were four other conference rooms available, but institute officials didn’t respond to his request for a new reservation by the time the weekend rolled in.The Saturday before the event, the student and five other anti GE tree campaigners turned up at the institute and tried to enter the locked building to check whether the rooms were really unavailable. They first tried to open the door using the[...]