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BASELINE SET FOR CLIMATE GOALS

State agencies produced carbon emissions equivalent to almost 195,000 passenger cars or more than 115,000 homes last year, according a report released by the governor on Thursday.

Gov. Charlie Crist released Florida's first comprehensive assessment of greenhouse gas emissions produced by state government. The study identifies the amount of greenhouse gases produced by state agencies during the 2006-07 budget year. The report will serve as a baseline to help track emissions so the state can make its buildings and vehicles more energy efficient. Reports will be issued four times a year.

Crist signed an executive order at a climate change summit in July calling for the state government to lead by example in reducing emissions in Florida. The state government is working to reduce emissions 10 percent by 2012, 25 percent by 2017, and 40 percent by 2025.

To meet those goals, the state will begin improving energy efficiency in existing buildings and setting higher building standards for construction. State agencies will buy fuel efficient vehicles, using ethanol and biodiesel when available.

"We're taking the same actions that we would actually ask industry to take," said Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole.

The state government is the largest employer in Florida, with more than 100,000 workers and 17-million square feet of office space. The state can use that position and drive the market and move green technologies forward, said Management Services Secretary Linda South.

In his budget released last month, Crist proposed spending $200-million - more than double the current budget - to promote alternative sources of energy and combat climate change. In it, Crist includes $50-million to encourage renewable energy sources and $42.5-million for tax exemptions and grants for companies that develop ethanol and biofuels. Another $107.5-million would go to climate change initiatives and recruiting businesses that do green technology research and development.

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