Florida politics halts bold environmental legislation
Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 9:07 PM
In 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed several executive orders (see EO07-126
) that made environmentalists hail the Republican as a champion for their cause. Among the orders was a notable mandate to have Florida utilities produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, with a strong emphasis on wind and solar energy, by September 2007. This renewable energy rule is known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and is active in other states. Though the renewable energy mandates vary from state to state, the intention of the RPS is to encourage utilities to invest in renewable sources. The ideal long-term goal would be to raise the minimum standard at defined intervals so the utilities can be eased into transforming their energy sources from coal and other fossil fuels to cleaner renewable sources.
Despite Crist’s good intentions, and Florida residents’ support for the cleaner energy, the Florida Senate interpreted and rewrote the order as SB1154
. The Bill allows for 'clean' coal and nuclear energy to be considered in the RPS as clean, renewable sources, though neither of these sources should fall into either of these categories.
In addition, the required renewable minimum amount was lowered from 20 percent to 15 percent, increasing the time it would take Florida to reach carbon-reducing goals set in the 2007 executive orders. Florida environmentalists hoped the Florida House would stop this change, and return the bill to its original content and intent. Quite to their dismay and while the bill was in question, a Florida House Representative proposed offshore drilling that would allow oilrigs three to ten miles from Florida's internationally renowned beaches. Because the Senate refused to approve the drilling, their Clean Energy Portfolio Standard bill was held 'hostage' in the House. Thus, as the last day of the legislative session rolled around and as the day died down, so did the RPS.
Though Florida's environment was the Governor's priority at the time of the Executive Orders, his recent bid for the US Senate
seat that will be opening in 2010 has placed these important issues on the back burner.
For more information on your state's RPS, visit MJ Beck Consulting's RPS Edge
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