Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sierra Club endorses Charlie Crist for Governor

(October 14, 2014) Sierra Club, the country’s largest grassroots environmental organization, enthusiastically endorsed Charlie Crist for Governor today.

“Charlie Crist is committed to build on his excellent record and to reverse the damage done to environmental protection in Florida by our current Governor Rick Scott.” said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida Staff Director.

“The choice is clear:  Charlie Crist understands our state’s environmental challenges and will work to lead Florida on a path toward conservation, sustainability and environmental restoration,” said Sierra Club Florida Political Chair Cecilia Height.

Sierra Club noted four major environmental accomplishments during his tenure as Governor from 2007-2010:

1. Crist advised the Florida Public Service Commission to reject new coal plants in Florida which led to the cancellation of six massive coal-fired power plants that Florida utilities had proposed.
2. Crist took a strong leadership position recognizing the impact climate change will have on Florida and put the state on the path to set strong renewable energy goals, an action that was later reversed by the Florida Legislature.
3. Crist negotiated an agreement with US Sugar Corporation that provides the State with the option to buy all 187,000 acres of land owned by US Sugar in the Everglades.
4. Crist appointed Tom Pelham as the director of the Department of Community Affairs, who turned DCA into a major champion of growth management. (Scott eliminated the Department when he took office.)

Sierra Club Florida said it expected Crist would be a leader in the following areas: protecting wild Florida, stopping new fracking and drilling, combating climate change, expanding solar energy, growing mass transit and electric vehicles, cleaning up Florida’s polluted waters, restoring the Everglades, and enforcing environmental laws.  (A comparison between Crist and Scott follows.)

For press inquiries, contact, Frank Jackalone at 727-824-8813 x302

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Comparing Charlie Crist to Rick Scott on the environment

Clean water
Charlie Crist supports the right of local governments to protect their local waters by adopting strong fertilizer regulations.  He is opposed to preemptive state legislation and rule-making that would weaken local environmental laws, but he would lead a comprehensive state approach to reducing nutrient pollution and harmful algae blooms.  He also supports making consumptive use permits contingent on maintaining minimum flows and levels for Florida waters.  Crist also opposes fracking for natural gas in Florida and offshore oil drilling as threats to clean water.

Rick Scott fought EPA’s proposed rules for Florida’s waters that would have stopped pollution at its source.  His administration repeatedly sacrificed Florida’s water resources to the profits of corporate polluters. He failed to address the crisis of over-pumped and polluted Florida springs until they were near death this year.  His recent funding for springs restoration did not go far enough toward solving the springs' most basic problems from over-pumping of the aquifer and pollution from fertilizer use, septic tanks, cattle farms and other sources.

Climate change and renewable energy
Charlie Crist made combating climate change a central theme of his administration. He held climate summits, created a framework for renewable energy through his appointees to the Public Service Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental protection. His administration sought a 40 percent reduction in statewide greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025, required state agencies to prioritize energy efficiency and asked state utilities to produce 20 percent of its power from renewables.

Rick Scott came into office as a climate change denier, and currently responds to media questions on whether human activity impacted climate by saying, “I’m not a scientist.” He has failed to address or plan for rising sea levels. He stacked the Florida Public Service Commission with utility-friendly Commissioners who repeatedly allowed power companies to charge customers in advance for expensive nuclear power plants that might never be built.

Growth management and natural lands protection
Charlie Crist placed Tom Pelham as director of the Department of Community Affairs whose leadership turned the agency into a major champion of growth management.  Crist supports Amendment One, the Florida Water and Lands Legacy Amendment.

Rick Scott dismantled the Department of Community Affairs and replaced it with the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) under rules that allow unfettered inappropriate growth. Scott’s DEO and FDOT proposed several new transportation corridors that would create new cities with millions of people from the Georgia border to Alligator Alley.  If Scott puts this plan in place during a second term, it would eliminate much of Florida’s rural farmland and threaten wildlife habitat for the Florida panther and other endangered species.  Scott didn’t defend the Florida Forever program for purchase of environmentally-significant lands when the Legislature slashed funding.  To raise money to buy environmental land, the Scott Administration's solution was to sell public lands already owned and protected.  Scott took no position on Amendment One.

Everglades restoration and coastal estuaries protection
Charlie Crist has been a strong champion of protecting the Everglades and coastal estuaries. As Governor, he negotiated an agreement with US Sugar Corporation that provides the State with the option to buy all 187,000 acres of land owned by US Sugar that would allow us to move excess Lake Okeechobee water south to the Everglades.

Rick Scott sabotaged our best chance of restoring the Everglades and protecting the Indian River Lagoon and Charlotte Harbor estuaries when he publicly rejected Charlie Crist’s contract with US Sugar. He cut funding for the South Florida Water Management District forcing it to eliminate vital environmental staff and programs.  To his credit, Scott funded several important Everglades projects including bridging for Tamiami Trail, but those projects will fail to restore the Everglades without the US Sugar purchase.

Enforcement of environmental laws
Charlie Crist pledges to appoint a strong Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection who will diligently enforce environmental laws.

Rick Scott crippled enforcement of environmental rules and appointed industry officials in top regulatory positions.  Florida DEP attorneys and regulators were instructed to avoid sanctioning businesses for circumventing environmental laws, and they were reprimanded or suspended when they did not follow orders.

Mass transit and clean cars
Charlie Crist would provide incentives for fuel efficient motor vehicles and would support the development of clean public mass transit.  He would invest in electric vehicle infrastructure needed to increase adoption of clean, electric cars and trucks, and he is an advocate for adding zero emission electric buses to public fleets.

Rick Scott single-handedly killed high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.  Federal funds for the line were approved and ready to be spent to build the line, but Scott turned down the funds.  It was a tremendous setback for efforts to bring clean, modern transit to the State.

Solar energy
Charlie Crist would remove the monopoly that big utility companies like FPL and Duke have on energy supply, and let smaller companies that specialize in solar energy compete.  He would make it easier and cheaper for Floridians to put solar on our homes and businesses – as well as encourage investment in solar and wind fields.  We agree with his conclusion that a conversion to solar energy will create new high paying jobs.

Rick Scott failed to do anything to help grow the solar industry in the sunshine state which lags far behind the rest of the country. 

Pd Pol Avd paid for and approved by the Florida Sierra Club PAC, 1990 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.  This message is not approved by any candidate.