Category Archives: Legislation

Advocates tell Florida to go green

Advocates are urging state lawmakers to embrace policies that expand solar activity in order to increase government revenue.

The Florida House recently backed a bill that uses tax breaks and loans to provide an incentive for the use of renewable energy; a similar measure heads to the state Senate this week.

A study by solar company Global Energy United concluded the state could add billions of dollars to government coffers by passing this legislation. The study showed renewable energy measure could help Florida diversify its economy away from real estate and tourism.

States with similar clean energy measures have realized more than $280 million in private investments.

Legislative update

The clean energy movement is all but stalled in the Florida Legislature as efforts to encourage clean energy are losing steam.

With only a couple weeks left in the legislative session, the prospects have vanished for a renewable-energy standard that would force the state to clean up the way it produces power.

Instead, efforts are focused on the crusade for oil and gas exploration three to 10 miles off Florida’s coast. Rep. Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican believes the most cost-efficient energy policy would support domestic development of oil and gas along with more nuclear power plants and development of the market for alternative fuels.

Read more about the clash of ideologies in this Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times special report.

High speed away

This is a Climate Progress repost of excerpts about the future of America’s  high speed rail system.

Last year, President Obama laid out a vision for high-speed rail,   jump started by the $8 billion stimulus to decrease  dependence on foreign oil and  reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics worry that a high speed rail system will encourage sprawl and have a significant impact on parks and wildlife refuges. Yet there have been no links established between existing HSR stations in France and Spain, for example, and an epidemic of suburban growth. In fact, sprawl could be a thing of the past if we take preventative measures to encourage urban density, enact antisprawl regulations, and make it convenient to travel to outlying HSR stations with plenty of garage parking.

HSR systems would take advantage of existing transportation corridors to minimize intrusion onto protected nature reserves, decrease air pollution generated by internal combustion engines in cars, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The California HSR, for example, will remove 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 because it uses electricity generated from wind, solar, and other renewable resources. In addition, California’s HSR will save 12.7 million barrels of oil by 2030.

If the United States is going to have a world-class rail system, however, it needs to focus on the “speed” part of HSR. President Obama said on January 27, 2010, “there’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains.” Yet plans for a network in the United States indicate that U.S. HSR trains will be slower than their European or Asian counterparts. European HSR trains operate in excess of speeds of 180 mph, but the U.S. HSR train speeds vary from express routes that serve major population centers traveling at least at 150 mph to regional routes at 110-150 mph to developing corridors topping out at 90-110 mph on tracks shared with regular rails.

Energy efficiency programs needed for all

State House Rep. Joe Gibbons recently addressed the critical need that low-income utility customers have for expanded energy efficiency programs.  As demonstrated in a  recent study by Florida Power & Light , low-income residents participate in energy efficiency programs at the same rate as other income groups.  A few excerpts from his essay.

“A failure to achieve greater energy efficiency hurts all of Florida’s electricity customers, particularly low- and fixed-income customers, because it deprives them of the help they need to reduce their electricity bills.”

“Making efficiency programs available to low-income residents is especially valuable because those groups pay a greater share of their income on energy bills compared with more affluent residents. Efficiency saves twice – cutting utility bills and helping the homeowner or renter cut energy waste.”

“What’s more, implementing energy efficiency creates jobs – especially critical in a state approaching 12-percent unemployment. Improving efficiency requires a work force of electricians, air conditioning installers, carpenters, roofers and more to deliver the services and products that reduce customer bills. Efficiency can add nearly 20,000 Florida jobs by achieving 15-percent energy savings by 2020, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.”

“Any way you look at it, efficiency should play a larger role in the lives of Floridians. The savings are especially critical to lower-income customers. While the PSC has taken a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to make efficiency opportunities even more widely available to customers.”

You can read the whole essay, published in the Tallahassee Democrat here.

Greenwashing & Advertising: Myth or Reality?

Perhaps one of the most interesting areas of everything “green” is the idea of advertisers and “green washing.” Some claim it’s over-exaggerated; others are looking toward government regulations to prevent it from occurring. This is a BusinssGreen report discussing green credentials in advertising.

Firms looking to advertise their green credentials should from today find it easier to avoid falling foul of regulators, after the industry updated its Advertising Codes to provide clearer guidance on the rules governing environmental claims.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) today released a major update of the codes of practice that govern the sector and determine which adverts are deemed unacceptable.

Included for the first time is an environmental claims section in the broadcast code that reflects the requirements already in force in the radio and non-broadcast code. There are also updates to the non-broadcast code to introduce an additional explicit rule to prevent marketers from exaggerating the environmental benefits of their products. Continue reading

Classroom Hot Zone

Much like other scientific theories, the idea of global warming has spurred some debate about what should or shouldn’t be taught at the elementary and secondary levels.

Critics of global warming and evolution  argue that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools. Lawmakers are “capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases,” according to the New York Times.

So, is teaching global warming (as a theory) a distortion of scientific knowledge by presenting it as fact? Unlike evolution which is now required in biology classes, the science of global warming, a newer topic, is taught more sporadically, depending on the interest of teachers and school planners.

It raises an interesting question, one that is likely to (unfortunately) be resolved by politics and the courts, as opposed to scientific facts.

Video: Hands Across The Sands

Last week, I wrote about Hands Across The Sands. On Saturday, more than 80 different beaches drew supporters in an effort to convince legislators and Governor Charlie Crist to drop the idea of offshore drilling. Check out this video from FOX Tampa Bay.