Thursday, July 12, 2007

Florida to introduce tough greenhouse gas targets

Reuters: Florida will impose strict new air-pollution standards that aim to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050, according to draft regulations released on Wednesday.

Gov. Charlie Crist was expected to sign executive orders at a global warming conference in Miami this week setting new emissions targets for power companies, automobiles and trucks, toughen conservation goals for state agencies and require state-owned vehicles to use alternative fuels.

Florida would adopt many tough pollution standards set by California and mimicked by other states, which have implemented their own such regulations because Washington has failed to pass national laws. President George W. Bush has also rejected the international Kyoto agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The rules would establish targets for Florida to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025 and by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. "I'm delighted but not surprised," said Preston Robertson, vice president of the Florida Wildlife Federation. "This is the kind of leadership we need across the nation."

Florida is one of the fastest-growing U.S. states, with a net gain of nearly 1,000 new residents per day. Its estimated population of 18 million ranks behind only California, Texas and New York.

The draft orders note Florida's critical tourism industry, which brings nearly 85 million visitors a year, and the vulnerability of its 1,350 miles of coast to the possible effects of global warming, including higher seas and violent storms. "All of the issues we work on -- protecting land, keeping estuaries clean, and preventing unnecessary growth -- none of them will mean very much if we have global sea rise," Robertson said.

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