Castor: Florida Should Be Leader, Not ‘Ironic Laggard’ in Solar Power
Hundreds marched in Tampa on Saturday (April 29) to support a shift to 100 percent clean energy.
TAMPA – Bay area residents joined elected officials and organizations for the Tampa Bay People’s Climate March on Saturday (April 29) to call on Tampa to commit to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
The rally, like many others across the country, was in solidarity with the national People’s Climate March in Washington, DC. The national march and local rallies come in the midst of proposed budget cuts and executive orders from the Trump administration that could threaten environmental protections.
Tampa protesters and rally-goers carried colorful signs and toured an art and science installation focusing on climate change.
“Sea level rise is easily documented in local tide gauge data, and the Tampa Bay measurements show a steady rise in sea levels,” said recently retired Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission Executive Director Dr. Rick Garrity, who spoke at the event. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration intermediate sea level rise projections warn of a rise of 3 to 4.5 feet by 2100. We need to do all we can to decrease climate-warming activities and prepare climate adaptation plans to protect our natural shoreline and our man-made infrastructure.”
Jerry Green, Florida outreach director with votevets.org, told the crowd: “Climate change aggravates existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, and environmental degradation. The President needs to acknowledge climate change for the urgent threat it poses to Florida and our country’s armed forces.”
Other speakers at the event included Md. Ashiqur Rahman, the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida. In his speech, Rahman talked about the situation in Bangladesh, where climate change is hitting especially hard despite the country’s contributing only 0.3 percent of carbon emissions.
“For the Bangladeshi population, climate change is not a future phenomenon but rather an everyday reality,” Rahman said. “In terms of sea level rise, Tampa Bay is vulnerable like Bangladesh. If we want to avoid catastrophic impact of climate change we need to act right now, because emission doesn’t know political boundary.”
Rally organizers said there is good news regarding renewable energy like solar power: It’s a powerful job creator. According to the Solar Foundation, Florida’s solar industry created more than 1,700 new jobs in 2016. More than 1,200 of those jobs were in the Tampa Bay and Clearwater areas. Even so, Florida has a long way to go when it comes to clean energy. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that Florida is third in the country for rooftop solar energy potential—but 13th in the amount of energy it actually generates from this source.
“For far too long, Florida has lagged behind others in unleashing solar potential, renewable energy and energy efficiency that would create jobs, save consumers money and reduce carbon pollution,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. “Solar and wind jobs are now growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the U.S. economy, but our state’s utility monopolies have a stranglehold on Florida’s ability to expand clean energy initiatives — at the expense of jobs, businesses and our neighbors.”
The People’s Climate March comes days after a state senate committee approved a controversial measure that would allow utility companies to use ratepayer dollars to invest in out of state oil and gas companies, and as the legislature refuses to hear a bill that would ban fracking in Florida.
“Florida’s governor and legislature have the opportunity to help the nation become the world’s clean energy superpower, which would be a win for Floridians and rest of the country,” added Rep. Castor. “The ‘Sunshine’ State should be a proud leader in this arena, not an ironic laggard!”
For information about Environment Florida, go to environmentflorida.org.
Photos courtesy of Environment Florida.
Climate March | Environment Florida | Renewable Energy | Climate Change | Global Warming | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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