Five protesters from the radical environmental group Earth First! this morning chained themselves together at the entrance to FPL headquarters in Juno Beach in an attempt to disrupt company operations and protest FPL's plans to build a massive new power plant on 3,200 acres of land adjacent to the Seminole Tribe's Big Cypress Reservation.
Protest supporters on the scene told New Times they numbered as many 80 and said the group was in discussions with law enforcement pending the arrival of a police cut team. The group has refused an offer not to prosecute in exchange for voluntarily dispersing.
Earth First! has called FPL's plans "an act of environmental racism against indigenous people and an attack on the Everglades." Calling the project a threat to their way of life, the Seminole tribe in June 2011 sued to block construction of the plant, in a case still being litigated.
In the Tribe's initial court filing, they described the project as including:
three natural gas plants, each of which features three 150 foot-tall smoke stacks. Thus, a total of nine 15-story tall smoke stacks will tower above the surrounding landscape which consists of agricultural operations, environmental preserves and ecotourism activities
The Big Cypress plant's utilization of natural gas derived from the controversial practice of fracking also motivates Earth First!'s action. An early morning press release from the group included this comment:
"This FPL proposal would be one of the biggest plants in the country. There's a good chance that the gas could come from poisoning the water around where I live," said a protester named Ryan, from New York, where there is a push for more gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region.
UPDATE: At 12:20 p.m. an Earth First! news release stated that:
Sheriff Emergency Force Team has arrived on site. Locked-down individuals have been told that if they do not unlock they will be charged with trespassing and resisting arrest nonviolently.
As of 1:20 p.m. Earth First! reported that the five civil disobedients had been arrested.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers politics, activism, the environment and culture in Palm Beach County and elsewhere. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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