The Skywriter

Senate recess update: Shadowing Florida's Sen. LeMieux


Senate recess update: Shadowing Florida's Sen. LeMieux


By 1Sky organizer Andrea Cuccaro. -- Luis

On Monday of last week, in front of the Chamber of Commerce in Palm Beach, Florida, Senator George LeMieux spoke about the need to support small businesses, as Florida is primarily a small business state with no fortune 100 companies housed here. When he was finished, I was the first person to shoot my hand up in the Q&A session. I introduced myself as a representative of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and thanked him for his thoughtfulness on our economy and his support for clean energy initiatives, which he had also mentioned in his speech.

I also asked him if, considering all of his support for clean energy and for small business, he would also support a cap on carbon that would generate revenues from Big Energy and distribute them to clean energy businesses, which are primarily small and growing. The senator talked a long and good game about supporting the Lugar bill and tax breaks for clean energy, but ultimately clarified that he does not support a price on carbon as he has been informed that this would cause a 35 percent increase in energy costs. In his answer, LeMieux also identified himself as a staunch supporter of investing in nuclear power, which he defined as the "cheapest clean energy" source on the market.

While we would not define nuclear as clean from the environmental costs in terms of water and waste, as well as the health costs of Leukemia traced to neighbors of transmission lines and reactors, it's also important to point out that nuclear is actually really expensive. In fact, according to a study from Duke University, solar is less expensive than nuclear now. Solar power has been on a trajectory to become less and less expensive, and 2010 is the year in which finally it surpassed nuclear as a more affordable option.

The most important takeaway from this day was that Senator LeMieux came out publicly against a cap on carbon. This was the first time climate solutions advocates heard the senator take a position. While the senator supports clean energy tax breaks and investments, all of which will jumpstart our green economy and curb carbon emissions, I was disappointed to hear he does not support a cap. A cap on carbon is the only way to ensure we can control cutting greenhouse gases within the timelines we need, in the timeframe outlined by scientists.

There seems to be little justification for LeMieux to take this position but to point to his ties to Big Oil and Dirty Coal corporate interests. Florida clean energy advocates have delivered between fifteen thousand and twenty thousand signatures at minimum regarding this issue over the past year and still the senator has acted the wrong way.

Clean energy business leaders have met with the senator’s staff over the past year to inform him of the necessary policy incentives for business growth, and a transition from fossil fuels to a clean and green economy. The senator stated concerns that big energy companies would pass on costs to rate paying consumers. Yet, policy makers can create controls to prevent that. While the Senator LeMieux believes costs for consumers could rise 35 percent, studies from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office discuss that the average rise in costs would be $175 per year for family households.

1Sky and partnered advocates have followed him around the state last week, starting with the Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Monday in Palm Beach, two Wednesday town hall meetings in Orlando and Tampa, a rally outside his Miami office Thursday, and an event in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday. Everywhere he went, we had activists to ask him, "Will you support a cap on carbon now?"

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