Hundreds Urge Sunshine State to Ban Fracking, Support Solar
"Banning fracking in Florida is one of the best things we can do to protect our treasured waterways, public health and economy," said State Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater). "I stand with the 90 cities and counties in Florida that have passed ordinances or resolutions calling on us, the State Legislature, to pass this important legislation."
Nationwide opposition to hydraulic fracturing has escalated dramatically over the past year as public awareness of its impacts grows.
"The time has finally come to end this dangerous practice," said State Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale). "This bill represents the now bipartisan recognition that Florida's unique geological makeup leaves our water supply particularly vulnerable and must be protected."
The gathering follows introduction of a bicameral, bipartisan fracking ban bill in the Florida Legislature with widespread support. Sen. Dana Young (R-Tampa), present at the event, introduced the bill into the Senate. Representative Mike Miller (R-Orlando) introduced the House ban bill on the same day. Both ban bills have received overwhelming bipartisan support, garnering dozens of cosponsors from around the state.
"The overwhelming support for a fracking ban doesn't stop here in Tallahassee; communities across the state have passed 90 local measures opposing the practice. Floridians have made it clear: we do not want fracking here," said Michelle Allen, Florida organizer with Food & Water Watch. "Just last week, the historically pro-energy, Republican Governor of Maryland came out in support of a fracking ban. We know now that people coming together can beat out Big Oil interests and win for our environment and communities, so we're looking to our legislators to listen to the will of the people in Florida and ban fracking now."
Students from Cornerstone Learning Community in Tallahassee attended in support of the legislation as well.
"We, as the future generation, understand how important it is to protect our water, animals and environment from the dangers of fracking," said Claire Encinosa, a 5th grader speaking on behalf of her class at the Cornerstone Learning Community. "Fracking will not just pollute our world but also make us sick, cause birth defects and even cancer. We want the Florida Legislature to ban fracking for the future."
Advocates also called for strong, common-sense implementation of Amendment 4, the pro-solar initiative 73 percent of voters passed last August, which makes it easier for businesses to implement solar energy.
"With the overwhelming support of Amendment 4, the doors are wide open for solar power in the Sunshine State," said Clifford Mitchem, Independent Energy Adviser for CREW, a member-owned solar cooperative. "It's now up to our legislators to help us walk through the door."
After this year's toxic algae outbreaks, just as many are calling for the preservation and protection of our precious water resources.
"Business as usual will drain our aquifers and poison what's left," said Burt Eno, president of Rainbow River Conservation. "We must balance our water permits with monitoring to ensure users don't take too much water and we need to better manage fertilizer, industrial and stormwater runoff to avoid polluting our waters."
Groups involved today, included ReThink Energy Florida, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, Environment Florida, Floridians Against Fracking, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Organize Florida and Florida Conservation Voters. They cited more than 900 health studies for why fracking has no place in the Sunshine State.
"Floridians continue to call on their elected officials to pass legislation banning fracking, promoting renewable energy and protecting our vital clean water supplies," said Kim Ross, president of ReThink Energy Florida.
"Floridians continue to call on their elected officials to pass legislation banning fracking, promoting renewable energy and protecting our vital clean water supplies," said Kim Ross, president of ReThink Energy Florida. "From the Keys, to Tampa, Jacksonville and Gainesville—hundreds of Floridians are here to inspire our leaders to reclaim Florida's future, environment, and health."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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