Thursday's letters: Criticism of FPL was misinformed

Published December 24 2014
Updated December 24 2014

Let FPL pay for its lobbying | Dec. 17, editorial

Criticism of FPL was misinformed

At Florida Power & Light, we're investing in clean energy while keeping customer bills low. We've reduced water usage and air emissions, and our parent corporation, NextEra Energy, was recently ranked as the top green utility in North America and fourth overall in the world. With this in mind, we must address the Times' misinformed criticism in this editorial.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed draft revisions to the Clean Water Act. While it may have benefits, the current draft could have inadvertent impacts on many businesses, utilities and municipalities, resulting in millions of dollars in unnecessary costs for Floridians.

The EPA welcomes participation from affected parties to help it consider a proposal's impacts before implementation. Instead of contributing constructively to this process, the Times sadly echoed attacks from anti-utility groups that claim FPL is "fighting" clean water.

That's false. Participating in the EPA's process to advocate for our customers doesn't equate to opposing overall policy. We participate to ask questions and express specific concerns to make sure customers aren't unnecessarily impacted. We are not alone — many others nationwide are weighing in about the proposal.

For FPL, a primary concern is the potential for superfluous major retrofits to manmade cooling ponds at some power plants. Although these facilities are properly permitted and monitored under state law, the current proposal could reclassify these industrial wastewater ponds and could result in customers paying $100 million in unnecessary compliance-related costs.

We believe it is important to advocate on behalf of customers to protect them from millions in unnecessary costs that could result from this proposal, so we will continue participating in the EPA's process. Our record indisputably shows we support environmental protection, and we will continue to meet or exceed all environmental regulations while also striving to protect our customers.

Randall LaBauve, vice president, environmental services, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach

'Custom' education conveys phony feel Nov. 18, John Romano column

Making schools better

In his column on education reform, John Romano wrote that the reforms we pursue feel "less like reform and more like an agenda.''

There is some truth to that, because there very much was an agenda when Gov. Jeb Bush took office. It was an agenda to turn around an education system in which almost half of our fourth-graders couldn't even read at a basic level. The numbers for African-American children were particularly dismal at almost 70 percent.

The result was a graduation rate that hovered around 50 percent.

Romano's continued attacks on education reform only make sense when you don't look at results. I find his theme that we are trying to dismantle public education amusing given that our public schools are performing better than ever, with disadvantaged kids showing the most progress.

I appreciate that there are those who don't believe poor families should have a bigger say in where their children go to school. But if one actually reads the annual analysis on Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program by Northwestern University's David Figlio, he would find that "the typical student participating in the program gained a year's worth of learning in a year's worth of time."

He also would find that there is "compelling causal evidence indicating that the FTC Scholarship Program has led to modest and statistically significant improvements in public school performance across the state."

So yes, we continue to believe that giving poor parents more choices in where to send their kids to school is good for the kids and good for public education.

Patricia Levesque, CEO, Foundation for Excellence in Education, Tallahassee

Obama criticizes Sony for pulling 'Interview' Dec. 20

Two films, two decisions

Two years ago, President Barack Obama and the entire liberal establishment went ballistic, falsely blaming and condemning an obscure movie, The Innocence of Muslims, for instigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that resulted in the brutal deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Not only did Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continue bashing that movie and its producer, Naloula Basseley Nakoula, for weeks after it was proved untrue that the movie was linked to the attack, but as punishment, Nakoula was hounded by the government and sent to prison for an unrelated parole violation that conveniently surfaced at just the right time.

Now Obama criticizes Sony for caving in to the threats of violent attacks from cyber terrorists, probably linked to North Korea, by pulling the film The Interview from distribution. I happen to agree with his position and I'm not defending the content of Nakoula's film, but why the double standard?

Where was the support for that filmmaker two years ago who exercised his constitutional right of free speech? Why was he condemned for releasing his film and Sony is condemned for not releasing their film? And can you imagine the outrage from Obama and the media that Sony would have to endure if a deadly attack had occurred after the threats had been ignored and the film had been released without Obama's prior approval?

Ted Milios, Hudson

2 NYPD officers ambused, killed | Dec. 21

Not a time to play politics

In response to the killing of two New York City police officers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News: "We've had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police."

The president never said anything even remotely close to that. Giuliani's use of the tragic death of two police officers to play dirty politics is despicable. He should apologize to the families of the victims, the president and the American people for this distasteful show of nasty discourse.

Ken DeRoche, Tampa

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