Outside activist groups are spending millions of dollars on political ads claiming Florida Gov. Rick Scott is not doing enough to fight global warming. A look at the facts, however, reveals Florida is more than pulling its weight on the global warming issue and the political ads are more about promoting a Democratic political candidate than fighting global warming.
Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who made his fortune funding coal power in Third-World nations, is leading the global warming push in Florida, spending $10 million on anti-Scott political ads. The ads take a decidedly negative and sarcastic tone, including claiming Scott’s plan to address global warming is to build an ark for himself and his friends.
Tone aside, there is essentially nothing a Florida governor can do to change the global temperature. The United States accounts for less than 15 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions, and Florida accounts for only 4 percent of the U.S. total. Accordingly, Florida accounts for significantly less than 1 percent of global carbon-dioxide emissions. Florida could eliminate all its carbon-dioxide emissions and scientists would never be able to measure any impact on global temperatures.
Florida Pays Dearly to Lead on Emissions Reduction
Even so, global warming activists argue Floridians should shoulder the burden of global warming action to demonstrate leadership. Floridians, however, are already demonstrating leadership, and paying a high price for it.
Global warming activists say the best method of reducing carbon dioxide emissions is to cut energy use. Florida, however, already is a national leader in this regard, as only seven states use less energy per person. For the relatively small amount of electricity Floridians use, global warming activists target coal power because coal produces more carbon dioxide than any other widely used electricity source. Florida, however, has already weaned itself off coal. Coal powers 39 percent of the nation’s electricity, but Floridians use merely half as much coal—just 21 percent.
As a result of these factors, only 10 states emit less carbon dioxide per person than Florida. All 10 of the other states accomplish this by using large amounts of emissions-free hydroelectric or nuclear power. Unfortunately, global warming activists generally oppose both of these emission-free power sources. Florida is unique in accomplishing its low-carbon economy while using less nuclear power than the national average and essentially no hydroelectric power.
Any way you cut it, Floridians are already in a national leadership role in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. And Florida’s low-carbon economy comes at a very high price. Floridians pay substantially higher electricity prices than the national average, and much higher prices than any of their neighbors. In 2013, Florida electricity prices were 8 percent higher than in Georgia, 13 percent higher than Mississippi’s, 14 percent higher than Alabama’s, and 29 percent higher than Louisiana’s. These higher energy prices take a bigger bite out of Floridians’ living standards than in other states, and the higher energy prices make it more difficult for Florida businesses to compete with businesses in other states. That means fewer jobs and lower living standards for Floridians.
It Gets Worse for Floridians, Though
Despite Florida already taking a costly lead in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, the Obama administration recently announced new global warming restrictions that will impact Florida more severely than other states. The new Environmental Protection Agency restrictions will require a 30 percent national reduction in power plant carbon -emissions, but they will impose different requirements on different states. Floridians will be hit especially hard, being forced to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions another 38 percent, rather than the 30 percent national average. This will further widen the gap between Florida’s high-cost, low-carbon economy and those of the rest of the nation.
Why, then, are Steyer and other activists pouring so much money into criticizing Scott for not imposing even more severe global warming restrictions? The answer is quite simple: partisan politics. Steyer is targeting only Republicans in the 2014 elections, and he is ignoring Democrats who support allowing higher carbon-dioxide emissions in their home states.
Global warming activists can argue for endlessly stricter global-warming restrictions, but they cannot argue with a straight face that Rick Scott and Florida are lagging behind the efforts of other states.