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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday he plans to sharply reduce Florida's emissions of greenhouse gases, triggering sweeping changes that could affect every industry in the state.
Crist's move, which will take place as part of his global warming summit in Miami this week, will make Florida the first state in the Southeast to embrace what's called a cap-and-trade system to control the gases believed to cause global warming. The way it works: Companies polluting beyond their cap could buy credits from other companies whose emissions were below their cap.
"I think that as a state, beautiful as Florida is, we need to be a leader controlling climate change and protecting our natural resources," Crist said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. "It's vital to Florida's future."
Crist will impose the new rules by signing a series of three executive orders Friday, the last day of his summit, where he will be joined by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has championed a similar effort in western states.
Drafts of the executive orders show that Crist wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels over the next 10 years; rewrite the state's building code to require more energy-efficient homes, stores and offices; and push the state's utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from alternative sources.
"I think wind and solar and nuclear can be very useful in producing energy we can rely upon, that's clean, and that's good for Florida," Crist said.
Crist made it clear Tuesday that the proposals may still change significantly. Florida's commitment could spur other states in the region to join in. It could also ratchet up the pressure on Congress to create a federal policy to replace the emerging state-by-state patchwork.
"One of the important things we need to do is to lead by example," Crist said Tuesday.
In all, 19 states have set greenhouse gas reduction targets, and 16 are preparing to enter regional cap-and-trade programs, according to Camp Dresser & McKee in Cambridge, Mass., a national engineering and consulting firm that has been tracking state energy initiatives.
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For a motivation to change, Crist said, he doesn't have to look any further than the view from his St. Peterburg condominium. His condo faces west, and in the mornings he looks out over a smog-blurred horizon.
"It's a disappointment to me," he said.
His crusade to make Florida a regional leader on climate change began barely a month after he was sworn in as governor, when Florida Wildlife Federation president Manley Fuller introduced Crist to Terry Tamminen.
Tamminen once headed California's Environmental Protection Agency, and was the architect of that state's landmark carbon-cap-and-trade legislation. Tamminen left his state job last fall, and has since become what he calls "the Johnny Appleseed of the climate effort in different states."
As Schwarzenegger's emissary, Tamminen encouraged other states to follow California's lead. When he met Crist in early February, he explained how Florida could join in the battle against global warming.
Tamminen's message: The White House and Congress have so far failed to push for change, while states like California, Massachusetts and others have instead taken the lead. He and Crist analyzed cap-and-trade systems being pursued in other states, as well as the system used by the European Union.
"I was there to offer California's help," Tamminen said.
Tamminen's visit lit a fire under the new governor, and led to this week's summit.
Tamminen said he did not propose what he called "the Californiazation of Florida." He suggested that Crist look to the experiences of other states, but tailor a program suited to Florida's needs and resources.
If Crist institutes a cap-and-trade system like California's, then it will have to include mandatory limits on emissions, Tamminen said. Voluntary systems don't work, he said.
"Businesses are not going to be motivated to reduce their carbon emissions and facilitate a trading system if there are not mandatory caps," he said.
Crist said Tuesday that he hasn't yet touched base with governors in neighboring states. "I think my opportunity to make a difference is here in Florida. I want to do as much as I can as governor of this state to try to protect Florida, looking ahead in a responsible way, to protect Florida's future, and to have the opportunity to preserve the most beautiful state in the country."
If Crist succeeds, Tamminen predicted, then, "After this week he's going to be seen as one of the world leaders on this topic."
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As news of Crist's proposals spread Tuesday, industry reacted with caution, curiosity and criticism.
Frank Maisano, an energy industry spokesman whose clients include utilities like Progress Energy and the Southern Co., said, "If I was Florida I wouldn't be too keen on taking after California's advice on keeping the lights on, because they haven't done a very good job of that over the years."
Tampa Electric and Progress Energy declined to comment until after Friday's announcement, as did the Florida Home Builders Association.
Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, said Tuesday that a regional initiative could work for Florida, but that the state shouldn't try to go it alone.
"We feel that a cap and trade in that arena would be suitable and favorable for Florida," said Mayco Villafana, spokesman for Florida Power & Light. "Florida should not go at this by itself. It would be more effective if we looked at it on a regional basis."
Environmentalists, meanwhile, quickly cheered the news.
"This is a watershed moment for Florida, and we believe not only for Florida but also the nation," said Jerry Karnas of Environmental Defense, which has poured $95,000 into footing the bill for the Miami summit.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Asjylyn Loder can be reached at (813) 225-3117 or firstname.lastname@example.org Craig Pittman can be reached at (727)893-8530 or email@example.com.