A bill filed by Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, would eliminate Florida's greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program before one was ever adopted.
Climate change and regulation of greenhouse gas emissions was a priority of Gov. Charlie Crist soon after he took office in 2007, but it dropped as a priority after 2008. Gov. Rick Scott, who took office last month, said last summer that he didn't believe in climate change.
HB 4117 by Plakon would eliminate the provision in 2008's HB 7135 that allowed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to establish a cap and trade program. Such a program would cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and allow companies to buy and sell emissions credits. DEP was authorized by the 2008 legislation to adopt the rules after Jan. 1, 2010 and submit them to the Legislature for ratification.
Plakon told the Florida Tribune that Crist's own turn away from the climate change issue and the "climategate" e-mails controversy of 2009 shows that science is unsound. He also said that such a cap-and-trade program would be a job-killing regulation such as those opposed by Scott.
"Until we have a better grasp of the science, I don't think this belongs in the Florida statutes," Plakon said.
In 2009, then-DEP Secretary Michael Sole disputed a report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility saying that DEP had shelved the initiative because of a retreat by Crist on environmental issues as he ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. In March 2010, Sole said DEP was delaying the initiative because there wasn't time to develop a proposal for the 2010 legislative session.
On Tuesday, a DEP spokeswoman said the department is not engaged in cap and trade rulemaking and is not working on a submittal for the Legislature.
Jim Murley, chairman of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission, said Tuesday he didn't know what decisions had been made at DEP about the program since his commission was briefed on it in 2009. Murley said the state now needs a broad assessment of what its energy policy should be.
"We need a reset," Murley said. "The Legislature and administration need to decide how we want to go forward."
Susan Glickman, a consultant to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says the governor and legislative leadership hasn't shown any interest in the climate change issue as the issue has become more politicized.
"To put their heads in the sand -- to be influenced as if this was some sort of political issue rather than a scientific issue to be dealt with -- is really short-sighted, especially when Florida is as vulnerable as it is," she said.
(Photo courtesy of the University of Florida TREEO Center. Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story and photo copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting email@example.com.)