Saturday, June 25, 2011

Floridians join Hands Across the Sand while Governor Scott and Senate President Haridopolos declare war on our beaches and coastal economy

Statement of Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Senior Organizing Manager
St. Pete Beach, Florida – June 25, 2011

This past week Governor Rick Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos declared war on Florida’s beaches and coastal economy.  In a cynically timed pair of events, the two called for new oil drilling off Florida’s coasts and building more coal and nuclear power plants.  

In addition, Governor Scott is starting to dismantle energy efficiency rules that we need to keep energy costs down for businesses and homeowners and to reduce the amount of poisons such as mercury and ozone from coal and gasoline emissions sent into our air.  

Rick Scott is embracing the dirtiest forms of energy for our state.  He is shirking his responsibility to protect the welfare of all Floridians.  

Tea Party Governor Scott and his actions deeply contrast with the policies of former Republican Governor Charlie Crist and Democratic Governor Bob Graham.  Charlie Crist and Bob Graham not only worked to protect all our people but served as strong stewards of  Florida’s wildlife – our fish, our dolphins, our magnificent birds - and our beautiful oceans, bays and Gulf beaches.

A year ago today oil was pouring out from BP’s Macondo deepwater well into the Gulf of Mexico.  It was the greatest man-made environmental disaster in America’s history. 

The Gulf of Mexico is still sick following this disaster.  The Gulf fishing industry still hasn’t revived.  People who live near the Gulf are reporting unexplained illnesses.  Tourism at our beach communities is down. Millions of Floridians are still depressed because of the damage done to the special places they loved.

We can’t take another hit from another spill. 
Not in the deepwater Gulf! 
Not in the Atlantic!  
Not in Florida’s coastal waters, just 3 miles off Florida’s shoreline!
And not in the waters between Cuba and the Florida Keys!

It’s risky business - too risky for Florida’s coastal businesses.  

Another spill could cause our fisheries to crash permanently.  That’s no exageration.  A recent report warns that sealife is jeopardized by a combination of man’s pollution, overfishing and warming waters.  Mass extinction is a real possibility.  We are courting disaster in the Gulf if we add another major oil spill to this mix.

Today we join Hands with thousands of Floridians (and thousands more at 300 events across the earth) to say there is a real alternative to oil drilling here in the “sunshine state” - It’s called sunshine.  Harness the power of the sun.  The sun’s energy is being harvested and converted into power for our homes just a little bit right now in Florida.  It is being harvested more than here in several other states.  And it is being harvested a whole lot more in much colder, darker places like Germany.  Sunshine is free to the touch and it can be captured economically.

The other part of the solution is to move to electric cars now.  The Sierra Club and other conservation groups are calling on the Obama Administration to adopt a new rule to get us to 60 miles per gallon average fuel economy for new cars and trucks by the year 2025.  That standard would push manufacturers to sell electric cars and trucks at affordable prices.  It can be done and it must be done if we are to get beyond oil and save the planet. 

Solar and electric cars ought to be Florida’s future, not more drilling in the Gulf.