An all-consuming Florida

Last month, I did a post on Tampa Bay ranking at the bottom of the “Green Cities” list.

Turns out, Florida (as a state) doesn’t fare so well either. It ranks third in overall energy use nationwide, only behind Texas and California. The report was issued by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority, which looked at both energy use and energy efficiency.

New York is the second most energy-efficient state in the United States on a per-capita basis, behind Rhode Island. The least-efficient states are Wyoming and Alaska, ranked 50th and 51th, respectively. The study includes Washington, D.C.

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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.

Rebate website revealed

If you’re looking to buy new appliances, take to the stores next week when the Energy Star appliance rebate program kicks in. (Check out this post for an update on what qualifies)

Dont’ forget to register online first, though.  Because there is a limited amount of available rebates, Crist is urging consumers to visit the Web site www.rebates.com/florida to begin reserving rebate funds by obtaining a priority number. Based on the amount of funds reserved, the Web site will countdown the remaining available rebates.

Florida is offering $17.5 million in rebates on about 68,000 different appliances purchased April 16-25.

“Making these purchases this month will benefit consumers, businesses and our entire state economy, as well as increase energy and water savings for years to come,” Crist said in a news release.

Consumers can receive rebates of up to $1,500 per household. Rebates will be given in the form of a prepaid American Express card, which can be exchanged for a check or electronic funds transfer.

Spring is here…

… Which means Farmer’s Markets are back in full swing! I checked out the one in downtown St. Pete this morning and left with gobs of fresh fruit and veggies. Sustainability means buying local, and the selection couldn’t be better!

Here’s a few of the local ones:

Downtown Saturday Morning Market

More than 100 local vendors, including produce, gourmet foods. Also crafts, live music and entertainment, flowers, plants. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, 180 Second Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 455-4921. saturdaymorningmarket.com.

Ybor City Saturday Market

Produce, gourmet foods and sauces, fresh baked breads, fresh eggs, prepared foods, plants, pet treats, arts and crafts, jewelry and bath and body products. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat. Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 241-2442. ybormarket.com.

Downtown Clearwater Farmers Market

Produce, baked goods, cheeses, gourmet foods, live music. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed. Cleveland area and Station Square Park, Clearwater. (727) 461-7674.

University of South Florida Bull Market

Student organizations, vendors, USF departments, and not-for-profit organizations line the Marshall Student Center South Plaza. The market is held every Wednesday during the fall and spring semesters except on holidays or during bad weather. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed. University of South Florida Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-5309. msc.usf.edu/bullmarket.htm.

Listings from tampabay.com/thingstodo

“Just say ‘No!'”

The Story of Bottled Water (by the makers of The Story of Stuff), is an informative short film about the bottled water industry. It seeks to expose the manufactured demand put upon consumers by the companies who produce bottled water. Check it out.

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.

Paper recycling at all time high

A little bit of encouraging news: the U.S.  increasingly understands the value of paper recycling.

The American Forest & Paper Association announced that paper recycling rates hit a record high last year, topping 60  percent. This number comfortably tops the industry target “to recycle 60 percent of paper consumed” three years ahead of schedule.

“Recycling is one of America’s great environmental success stories and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this arena,” said Donna Harman, AF&PA president and chief executive. “This announcement is a testament to the work of the industry and the commitment of millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work on a daily basis.”