Floridians Rebel Against Governor’s Global Warming Proposals

Published October 1, 2007

Greenhouse gas restrictions proposed by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will impose expensive cost-of-living increases on Florida residents while achieving few if any benefits, Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-West Miami) explained in a July 25 editorial in the Miami Herald.

In expressing his concerns about expensive global warming mandates, Rubio joins grassroots citizens’ groups in the state and Republican legislators who are becoming increasingly unhappy with Crist’s departure from the policies of popular former Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

New Restrictions Ordered

During a July 12-13 Summit on Global Climate Change, Crist announced the signing of three executive orders designed to force state citizens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The first order, 07-126, requires the state government to measure its emissions and then reduce them by 40 percent by 2025. State buildings must use energy-efficient technology and solar panels whenever possible. Also, state vehicle purchases should favor ethanol and biodiesel fuel whenever possible.

The second order, 07-127, requires electric utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, regardless of the cost to consumers. The executive order also requires Florida consumers to buy energy-efficient appliances, irrespective of higher costs. Also, Florida will adopt California’s motor vehicle emission standards pending approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The third order, 07-128, will create a Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change to come up with still more global warming restrictions on Florida citizens.

Economic Pain Imminent

Crist’s greenhouse gas restrictions “will not only fail to achieve their desired result, they carry actual negative consequences,” Rubio wrote.

Rubio pointed to a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that found emission restrictions similar to those supported by Crist “would cause consumer utility bills to shoot up by some 25 percent to 50 percent” in states such as Florida.

“Other estimates indicate that Kyoto-like carbon caps could result in electricity bills that rise from the current 8 cent per kilowatt average now seen in the United States to the 25 cent per kilowatt which burdens families in Europe. The United Kingdom alone saw a 14 percent increase between 2005 and 2006,” Rubio noted.

“Floridians already are paying too much in taxes and insurance. The last thing we need is higher utility bills,” Rubio continued.

Electricity Already Expensive

Rubio’s argument was supported by data from the Taxpayers Network. According to its 50 State Comparisons, 2007 Edition, Florida already ranks in the top third of states in cost of electricity.

This is in large part because, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, only 30 percent of Florida’s electricity is generated from inexpensive coal. With half of Florida’s electricity already coming from emissions-free nuclear power and low-emissions natural gas, meeting Crist’s ambitious goals will prove quite costly, if even possible.

‘Treason’ Claimed

The rhetorical highlight of Crist’s Summit on Global Climate Change, which was funded in large part by a $95,000 payment from the environmental activist group Environmental Defense, was Crist inviting environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to address the summit as keynote speaker.

Kennedy offended many in the audience by calling people who are skeptical of alarmist global warming theory “traitors” and perpetrators of “treason,” and then demanding they be punished as such. The U.S. Constitution authorizes the death penalty as punishment for treason.

State’s Agriculture Threatened

In the immediate aftermath of Crist’s summit, the call for stringent greenhouse gas reductions sparked actions certain to harm the Florida economy if implemented. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, told her husband’s supporters they should buy only locally grown fruits and vegetables, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transportation vehicles.

“I live in North Carolina,” Edwards said. “I’ll probably never eat a tangerine again.”

Similarly, New Scientist magazine reported on July 18 that producing 2.2 pounds of beef generates more than 80 pounds of carbon dioxide–as much greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car for three hours. Florida ranks 12th in the nation in beef cow population.

The state leads the nation in producing snap beans, fresh market tomatoes, fresh market cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, watermelons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and sugarcane for sugar and seed. Florida ranked second in sales of greenhouse and nursery products, sweet corn, and strawberries. National efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by buying locally grown produce would send Florida agriculture into a tailspin.

“In our opinion, these goals have been issued hastily, without adequate revision,” said Thomas Perrin, director of public affairs for the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Florida. “Ultimately, the economic implications on our state could be immense.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News and a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute.

For more information …

Florida Executive Order 07-126: http://www.flgov.com/pdfs/orders/07-126-actions.pdf

Florida Executive Order 07-127: http://www.flgov.com/pdfs/orders/07-127-emissions.pdf

Florida Executive Order 07-128: http://www.flgov.com/pdfs/orders/07-128-actionteam.pdf