The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
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Florida Drops out of Climate Change Fight

Gov. Crist Nixes Joining RGGI or Pursuing State Emission Curbs; Will Defer to Feds


Florida Governor Charlie Crist has decided that his state will not
join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or pursue further
major efforts to combat climate change, according to a notice released
today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Florida, once a leader among states in addressing climate issues,
instead will sit on the sidelines and await the outcome of federal
cap-and-trade legislation.

Rather than issue a public announcement, Florida's decision was
communicated to other Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic state members of
RGGI that the Sunshine State would not participate in the upcoming
September 9, 2009 auction of greenhouse gas emission allowances. In
addition, Gov. Crist "will not be presenting a proposed cap-and-trade
rule to the 2010 Legislature," stated the notice quoting Florida
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) spokeswoman Amy Graham.

The move will limit the potential impact of the 10-state RGGI
market. Florida's participation would have increased the program by
more than 75% with Florida accounting for more than twice the emissions
of the biggest RGGI state, New York. RGGI allowances have been dropping
in price due to over-allocation of emission credits, a problem that has
plagued other cap-and-trade systems.

Gov. Crist's decision culminates a steady rightward shift since he
began pursuing a now vacant U.S. Senate seat. In August, he canceled a
third annual session of his highly regarded Climate Change Summit,
citing meeting costs. His support of action on climate change has
become a rallying point for opponents within the state Republican
Party. His Senate primary opponent, House Speaker Mike Rubio, recently
crowed, "I guarantee you he will not be touting the work he did with
Sheryl Crow as part of his primary platform," referring to the popular
singer identified with green causes.
"Gov. Crist's retreat signifies that it is becoming increasing
difficult for environmentally concerned citizens to advance in today's
Republican Party - and that is a real shame," stated Florida PEER
Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP enforcement attorney. "Of all the
states, Florida arguably has the most to lose from rising sea levels,
bigger, nastier storms and the other side effects associated with
climate change."

Florida's rate of greenhouse emissions has soared in recent years,
rising by more than a third above 1990 levels. The state's rate of
growth may be finally slowing only because its population boom is now
becoming a bust, with Florida now losing population for the first time
in decades.

"Gov. Crist used to proclaim that Florida's future will turn on the
quality of our environment so it is unfortunate that these values must
take a back seat to political advancement," Phillips added, noting that
a huge purchase of sugar lands for the purpose of benefiting the
Everglades had been a signature issue for Gov. Crist in which he had
invested substantial political as well as fiscal capital. "What good
does it do to 'save' the Everglades only to have it to sink back into
Florida Bay?"


Read the notice of Florida's decision to opt out of RGGI

View the now moribund Florida "Governor's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change"

Learn about RGGI

Look at the problems with cap-and-trade systems

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.