Floridians Deliver 92,000-Signature Petition Urging Gov. Rick Scott To Cut State Emissions

CREDIT: AP Photo/Steve Cannon

Floridians travelled to the state capitol Monday to call on Gov. Rick Scott to make a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Florida.

State residents delivered a petition with 92,000 signatures to the governor’s office Monday morning in an attempt to urge Scott to take action on carbon reductions proposed by the EPA’s recent rule on power plant emissions. The petition, which was organized by state environmental group Florida’s Clean Future, calls on the governor to invest in a plan for emissions reductions from power plants.

“It’s time we put a clean power plan in place for Florida that cleans up dirty coal fired power plants, saves our homes and businesses money through energy efficiency, and invests in clean solar power to create more jobs right here in Florida,” the petition reads. “We need protection from pollution. We need you to support strong limits on industrial carbon pollution from dirty power plants, promote investment in energy efficiency, and lead the Sunshine State to a bright solar future. We need a strong plan.”

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.