On their website, the Suncoast Sierra Club (SSC) say they “participate in local environmental activities.” Yet the SSC, which is a local chapter of the national Sierra Club, has had nothing to say about the recent and multiple sewage spills in the Tampa Bay area. There have been no posts on the SSC’s website or their Facebook page about the sewage spills, nor has the SSC indicated any future action to address the topic.
After 20 million gallons of sewage was released into Tampa Bay, the City of St. Pete claimed that a stuck flowmeter prevented them from giving a more accurate and higher estimate of the size of the spill. In addition, the City of Clearwater released millions of gallons of raw sewage near a homeless center, and many other municipalities also reported sewage releases during and after Hurricane Hermine passed by.
The Guardian asked Lisa Hinton, the Chair of the Executive Committee of the Suncoast Sierra Club, why they have been silent on this issue. We asked because the SSC received a $50,000 grant from the City of St. Petersburg, allegedly to “help the city work toward its Net Zero energy commitment”. One question we had for Hinton was: does receiving such funds get in the way of your ability to criticize the city when it takes actions that damage the environment? However, we received no response.
We also asked Phil Compton, the Senior Regional Representative, the same questions we asked Hinton, but received no response from Compton either.
In 2014, Hinton illegally endorsed a political candidate in a mass e-mail she sent out for SSC. The national Sierra Club was fined $250 by the Florida Elections Commission in 2015 for this violation. Also in that case, Hinton was unresponsive, which is why the national Sierra Club was named the defendant in that matter.
We sent our questions to Hinton and Compton via e-mail on the morning of Sunday September 11 at 10:08 A.M., asking specifically “why has the SSC been silent on these large sewage spills?” At 2:39 P.M., the SSC sent out a mass e-mail which towards the very bottom linked to two news stories about the sewage spills. However, there were no statements on the matter from the SSC, only links to two news article.
Kent Bailey, chairman of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, has had no reservations speaking up on the issue of sewage spills. Bailey said the recent dumps “endanger nearly every type of marine life.”
Maybe the SSC got our e-mailed questions, maybe they didn’t. As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide.
Update: after this article went live, the Tampa Bay Times published an article with the headline “Spilled sewage suspected in mass bird die-off in St. Pete Beach”.