SOURCE: Audubon of Florida

Audubon of Florida

April 21, 2009 17:56 ET

Florida Legislators Are Not Making the Environment a Priority, According to Audubon of Florida

Oil Drilling Three Miles From Coastline Becomes a Possibility, While Clean Car Rules Are Held Up in Committees

TALLAHASSEE, FL--(Marketwire - April 21, 2009) - According to the Audubon of Florida, state legislators are not acting in the spirit of Earth Day or in the interests of Florida residents as two environmental issues make their way through the legislature. An amendment filed late last night will make way for oil and natural gas drilling off of Florida's beaches, while another bill to adopt clean car rules is being stalled.

Oil and Natural Gas Drilling

The Florida Legislature is racing to act on a bill that would allow oil drilling within three miles of Florida's pristine coastlines. Audubon of Florida is vigorously opposing the amendment, filed late last night by House Speaker-designee Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park), to add language to HB 1219 that would pave the way for oil and natural gas drilling within sight of Florida's beaches.

"With less than two weeks to act in the Legislature, state lawmakers are refusing to move on positive solutions, such as clean car rules and renewable energy, and instead are grasping at addictive proposals to open oil drilling near Florida's beaches," said Audubon Policy Director Eric Draper. "This is a dirty proposal that is bad for consumers and bad for our beaches and marine environment. Proponents of the oil drilling plan are selling Florida's future in a desperate attempt to cling to oil and gas, the principle drivers of global warming."

Audubon vigorously opposes this destructive proposal because it would impact Florida coastal ecosystems and pristine beaches, put marine and coastal wildlife at risk, and delay the serious measures needed to reduce global warming and its impacts on the state and resident's quality of life.

Vehicle Emissions Standard

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are delaying a rule that would require carmakers to sell cars that emit fewer greenhouse gases, according to Audubon of Florida. Florida residents shopping for cars that get better gas mileage and pollute less have fewer choices in the sunshine state.

In the absence of legislation to adopt vehicle emissions standard in Florida, residents don't have their choice of clean cars to purchase in the state. Vehicles with improved emissions standards and better fuel efficiency, such as the 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the 2009 Ford Fusion or 2009 Honda Accord Sedan with PZEV emissions standards are currently not for sale.

Clean cars are only sold in states, such as California, New York, and 10 others that have adopted clean car rules. In Florida -- a state where transportation accounts for more than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions -- automakers are fighting to prevent the passage of clean car laws citing the high cost to manufacture them. Legislators also seem intent to listen only to purveyors of petroleum rather than protect Florida's tourism economy and give Floridians a choice for a cleaner, greener future.

"Our legislators must drop destructive proposals such as destroying Florida's environment for more oil and adopt solutions such as clean car rules before the end of the 2009 session," says Eric Draper, policy director for Audubon of Florida. "We can't let the legislature put the brakes on our future and open our coastal waters to oil drilling. Clean car rules create real solutions that Floridians want."

A recent poll commissioned by Audubon of Florida and its partners found that 71 percent of Florida voters agree the state should require auto manufacturers to sell cars and trucks that emit fewer greenhouse gases. Governor Charlie Crist proposed these rules two years ago and they were approved by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission.

Audubon is also helping Floridians call on their state lawmakers to act by visiting www.climateflorida.org, calling and writing to state legislators to pass clean car rules and ignore dirty drilling proposals.

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