Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Utilities should embrace clean energy even if Trump doesn’t

The Trump administrationís proposal to curtail regulations on coal-fired power plants is bad for public health, the wrong signal to the economy and a further danger to coastal states such as Florida, where rising sea levels increasingly threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Scoring political points with a shrinking workforce of miners and undermining one of former President Barack Obamaís key achievements apparently trumps the benefit of cleaner air and water, of cheaper and more sustainable energy and of Americaís national security interest in curtailing global warming. Tampa Bay area utilities should continue to move away from coal for the long-term benefits to public health and the regionís economy.

The proposal would replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with new rules that would relax emissions standards and give the states new authority to allow older, dirtier power plants to keep on operating. Obamaís Clean Power Plan, proposed in 2015, set a goal of driving down carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It gave the states flexibility in reaching the emissions targets even as it acted as a tool for encouraging utilities to switch from coal to cleaner energy sources. Obama saw that strategy as a signature attempt to improve public health and assert American leadership in the run-up to the Paris global climate accords. It also gave industry the regulatory certainty it needed to close down dirtier coal plants and spur new investments in natural gas and other energy production facilities.

Trumpís plan would replace the hard targets with a new emphasis on making older coal plants more efficient, providing an incentive to keep some of the dirtiest plants operating longer. The administrationís own analysis said the new rules could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 from an increase in the fine particulate matter that is linked to heart and lung disease, and up to 15,000 new cases of breathing problems and tens of thousands of missed school days. That threat would be especially acute in Florida, the nationís third-largest state. By contrast, the Obama plan was expected to help prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths a year by 2030.

Court battles kept the Clean Power Plan from going into effect. But it helped steer the industry toward a cleaner future. Carbon dioxide emissions from power plants are dropping thanks to a switch from coal to natural gas and technological efficiencies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates energy related carbon emissions will be about 13 percent lower in 2019 than in 2005. And from 2000 to 2015, the per-capita reduction in Florida has beat the national average.

Tampa Bay utilities have moved away from coal in recent years in favor of natural gas and renewables, a shift that Trumpís policy reversal is not expected to change. Tampa Electric Co. said it intends to continue with plans to convert a coal-fired unit at its Apollo Beach plant to natural gas by 2023, when coal would make up just 12 percent of its energy mix. Duke Energy Florida also said it expects to continue reducing its carbon emissions. Consumers need to keep the utilities on the right path. And Congress needs to push the administration in a direction that recognizes coalís dwindling future and the harm it has done the environment.

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Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Editorial cartoons from Times wires
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectationíí is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18