Complying with the EPA’s proposed regulation would mean Florida would have to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent by 2030, reductions that are part of the EPA’s overall goal of reducing emissions from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. So far, however, Scott hasn’t taken steps to prepare Florida for the reductions, and his administration hasn’t said much about what it thinks about the rule. The issue has also barely surfaced in the state’s governor’s race — Democratic candidate Charlie Crist has only said that Florida will “have to see exactly how [the rules] turn out.”
But as the Orlando Sentinel pointed out last week, the issue can’t be ignored — or kicked down the curb — forever.
“Whoever gets to be Florida’s next governor will have a very large say in how the EPA rule is carried out and how much of the cost is absorbed by consumers,” the Sentinel wrote.
The Floridians who travelled to the state’s capitol are hoping their efforts will put the issue back in the spotlight. Florida’s Clean Future cites polling data that finds that 77 percent of Floridians support the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon emissions from power plants, and that 71 percent of Floridians believe carbon emissions contribute to climate change. That’s something that Scott has been hesitant to admit during the campaign, saying only that he’s “not a scientist” and often pivoting to talking points on his administration’s environmental efforts.
Florida’s Clean Future isn’t the first to petition Scott to act on climate change. In August, Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, delivered a petition with 60,000 signatures of “pro-life Christians” to the governor’s office, urging him to take the threat of climate change seriously. Florida — especially South Florida — is one of the most vulnerable states in the U.S. when it comes to sea level rise.
More than 92,000 petitions arrived at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office today urging the governor to announce his plan for fighting climate change. The petitions also call for Scott to cut carbon emissions and invest in solar power, actions that would help the state comply with the federal government's proposed Clean Power Plan.
Children pulled red wagons piled with boxes into the governor’s office. Florida State University student and ReThink Energy intern Daniel Corbett spoke in Scott’s waiting room during the petition drop.
“It doesn’t matter whether you identify as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, what faith you follow, where you call home, what language you speak or how much money you make, because climate change, pollution, whether our energy is dirty or clean, that is all of us," he says.
The timing of the drop, weeks before the midterm election, is no accident, says Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Florida Director Susan Glickman.
"For the very first time ever, climate and energy issues have become a central issue in the elections, so people are paying attention, and we believe they will use these important issues as they make up their mind and who they’re going to vote for," she says.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency wants states to come up with their own plans for lowering carbon emissions by the year 2030. The agency is taking public comment on that plan until December 1.
Corrected: The original version of this story said one of the groups that collected petition signatures was the NextGen Climate political action committee. While NextGen is working to make climate an issue in the Florida election, the group was not involved in this particular effort. The signatures delivered to Gov. Scott were collected by a coalition of groups including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the National Resources Defense Council. We regret the error.