Florida’s renewable energy future in jeopardy. Meanwhile, where is the Governor?

Stephen Smith | April 24, 2009 | Energy Policy

The prospect of the Florida Legislature passing a Florida renewable energy target (RPS) that would drive investment and jobs in renewable energy technologies is in serious jeopardy – in fact, the Florida House leadership has taken a giant step backwards by endorsing a misguided plan (HB 1219)  to allow drilling as close as 3 miles off Florida’s beaches.

The House is considering attaching the drilling bill to a weak renewable energy plan with very low targets – almost ensuring the demise of any renewable energy bill this session.  The Florida Senate, to its credit, has passed a meaningful renewable energy bill, but the House has to act.

Time is running out. The Florida legislative session ends on May 1st.

Surprisingly, Governor Crist has stated that he’s “intrigued” about the thought of oil drilling – and his public advocacy for a strong renewable plan have been notably lacking.  Ironically, it was the Governor himself who first to introduce the vision of clean energy economy in July 2007 calling for 20% of Florida’s energy to be generated from renewable sources, such as solar and wind by 2020.

Now it’s time for Governor Crist to “step up to the plate” and lead a disjointed legislature to position Florida as a leader in the new clean energy economy by: (1) dismissing a nonsensical plan to drill as close to 3 miles off Florida beaches; and (2) strongly advocate for passing a meaningful renewable energy target of 20% by 2020 now.

The drilling plan has been ridiculed by Florida’s major newspapers, with good cause.  More drilling would sell out Florida’s beaches – Florida’s largest economic engine, fueling a $65 billion a year tourism industry – for a few million dollars in oil company application fees and possible royalties.

The last-minute bill was introduced by Rep. Dean Cannon with less than 24 hours public notice, although oil industry lobbyists were quietly given early notice of the hearing, enabling them to show up with presentations, charts and photos.  It’s shameful and shortsighted that Florida lawmakers would gamble away the state’s legacy of beautiful, clean beaches while missing a unique opportunity to jumpstart the state’s economy through clean, renewable energy.

Here is the Governor’s number.  Tell him what you think.

Governor Charlie Crist
Telephone: (850) 488-7146

See what some of Florida’s newspapers are saying about drilling:

Miami Herald Drilling Off Florida’s Coast still a Bad Idea
Florida Times Union Surprise Move to Drill in Gulf Makes for Bad Splash
Orlando Sentinel What We Think: Drilling Threatens Coast
Tampa Tribune Oil Drilling No Way to Fuel Recovery

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
My Profile