Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Florida lags in race for clean energy

The plan to cut carbon emissions that President Barack Obama laid out exposes again how badly Florida is positioned to capitalize on the global drive toward clean energy. Obama's proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has as much potential to create new jobs and rebuild communities as it does to reduce global warming. Yet Florida will be left out unless the state creates a cohesive energy policy and Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature begin to show forward-looking leadership.

The centerpiece of the plan Obama announced last month calls for tougher restrictions on carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, which account for about one-third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. That alone would be a big help to Florida given the risks that pollution and climate change pose to the environment, coastal communities, tourism and public health.

But the economic impacts reach further. Obama would invest $8 billion in the coming year for clean energy research and development, to move away from coal toward cleaner energy sources. The administration would commit billions more in grants and loan guarantees to promote renewable energy, so-called "green" construction, the manufacture of more efficient appliances, and public works (such as transit systems, water projects and hospitals) that are more resilient to extreme weather.

This plan creates opportunities for states that have had the foresight to move away from dirty fuels already and to create a business climate that attracts public and private investment in clean technology. But the Sunshine State is hardly competitive. Florida is among a minority of states that has no renewable energy standards. It has no comprehensive plan to diversify its energy mix, relying mostly now on natural gas. The state generates little solar power despite the potential, and it has no real policy or significant money behind a serious plan for expanding it. The net effect is that Florida has told private industry to not bother looking for a partner here.

The ramifications extend beyond losing out on the federal money. The administration's seed money will act as a jobs bill for states. Those communities that work with the federal government on building stronger public works will have more modern transit systems, flood control and other vital infrastructure. Advances in research and technology also have a positive effect in states that are in the game. That's why clean energy is a sector that area business leaders have singled out as a priority for job development efforts.

Scott and the Legislature should provide more money and clearer direction on Florida's energy future to ensure the state can compete for renewal energy research, industry and jobs. Florida's vulnerability to the effects of climate change calls for vision and leadership, yet it continues to fall behind.

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Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18