Gwen Graham releases climate change, environmental policy statement

in 2017 by

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has released a three-part policy statement on dealing with climate change and Florida’s environment, starting with having Florida pursuing compliance with the Paris Accords, something her two Democratic rivals also have endorsed.

The policy statement also calls for Florida, if she is elected governor in 2018, to ban fracking and oppose any expansions in off-shore oil drilling, and to invest in a clean-energy economy, starting with solar energy.

The trio of positions are not new for Graham. Nor do her Democratic rivals, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park affordable housing developer Chris King, disagree with her. Since she opened her campaign she has sought to establish herself as a stanch environmental candidate, in the tradition of her father, when he was governor 30 years ago. King also has sought that ground.

With her new statement, Graham goes into more detail, and expressed urgency following President Donald Trump‘s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“Florida is already suffering from the harms of climate change today. Rising waters threaten our beaches and coastal cities, droughts put our water supply at risk, and forest fires are raging across the state,” Graham stated in a news release issued by her campaign. “Yet, despite all the science and even plain old common sense, President Donald Trump is embracing disaster by withdrawing our country from the Paris Agreement. Let me be blunt: ignoring climate change will drown Florida’s future.”

Among her proposals:

– She vowed to implement a renewable energy standard that makes Florida less reliant on fossil fuels and continues President Barack Obama‘s Clean Power Plan to transition away from coal

– She promised to  appoint commissioners who “believe in science” and consumer advocates to Florida’s Public Service Commission to give solar companies a chance at competition with the corporate utilities

– She assured she would work with Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to end Florida’s ban on power purchasing agreements to give consumers and homeowners more choice in where their electricity comes from

Graham was the first candidate to vow that Florida would join Washington, New York, and California in an alliance to uphold the Paris Accord, though King and Gillum quickly followed.

She said joining the states’ climate alliance will mean working to cut carbon emission and investing in renewable energy.

Graham argued that fracking – an oil and gas exploration technology that involves injection of hydraulic fluids to crack rock and access underground reserves – and oil drilling threaten Florida’s natural resources, including the Everglades and beaches.

She cited work she’s done with Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to pursue a ban on oil drilling, and her support for Obama’s lean Power Plan to shut down and clean up coal-fired power plants. She also contended she has a record of standing with local governments opposing fracking, which has been frequently cited for causing contamination of ground water.

Graham also declared Florida must embrace and invest in green technology and renewable energy.

“As the rest of the world and even other states move forward on fighting climate change, under Rick Scott and 20 years of Republican rule, Florida is falling behind,” Graham stated. “Renewable energy accounts for less than 3 percent of energy generation in Florida, our state has no renewable portfolio standard, and we are one of few states that outright bans power purchase agreements, which makes it harder for homeowners and small businesses to install solar panels.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.