Florida’s cap-and-trade law — a legacy of former Gov. Charlie Crist — would be repealed under legislation approved 82-34 Thursday by the House.
Before Crist abandoned the Republican Party and lost a U.S. Senate campaign as a no-party candidate, he had emerged as an environmental progressive, joining then-California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger in pushing their states toward limiting carbon emissions.
But Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, said Thursday the move was wrongheaded. Plakon’s bill (HB 4001) would erase the Florida Climate Protection Act, which gave the state’s Department of Environmental Protection authority to push for a program to reduce greenhouse gas from electric utilities. The measure still has to clear the Senate.
Fighting the repeal, Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, said climate change affects everyone — and Florida’s coastline is vulnerable to rising sea levels. But ruling Republicans tarred the measure as a job-killer. Also infuriating, at least one GOP legislator pointed out, was that it came from Crist.
“We made a mistake then by passing this job killing legislation,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “Let’s ensure that we never have another governor concerned about being politically romanced in California than creating jobs for the state.”
Crist’s cap-and-trade measure was never implemented by the Legislature. But it has had a political afterlife not likely to disappear anytime soon.
The roles of former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, a Boca Raton Republican now running for Congress, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Lemieux, a former Crist chief-of-staff, in passing the cap-and-trade measure has been used against both men on the campaign trail.