The case for Charlie Crist, by Adam Smith

[F]or all of Crist’s flip-flops, opportunism and spectacular self-absorption, he has at his core a deep understanding and love for the state of Florida. His gut instinct is to look out for the typical Floridian who on any given day may struggle to pay the power bill, fill up the gas tank or afford prescriptions.

Gov. Scott can be counted on to stick up for big corporations and the sorts of special interests who can afford lobbyists. Crist’s default position is to consider the interests of Joe Sixpack.

That was true when Crist was a Republican suing power companies over dramatic rate increases and it’s true now that Crist is a Democrat and those same utilities are spending millions of dollars to keep Scott in the Governor’s Mansion.

This resonated with me as the best description of the 2014 Florida Governor’s race I have read so far. A great reminder of the choice we face.

Read the full editorial in the Tampa Bay Times.

Ten Books

Ten books that have stuck with me, in approximate order of when I first read them. Here they are, thiswaycomessomethingwicked!

  1. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
  2. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling (all seven)
  3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
  5. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
  6. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  7. Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
  8. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  9. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Beverly Daniel Tatum
  10. Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard
What Matters In the Florida Governor’s Race: Climate Change Policy
The impacts of climate change are being felt worldwide. Florida is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, and more intense weather systems. [Source]. Climate change cannot be ignored in the Sunshine State, and it is crucial that Floridians elect a governor who will tackle these issues appropriately. A July 2014 poll indicated that 71% of likely voters in Florida recognize climate change as a serious issue, and 60% believe the state should do more to prepare for its impacts. [Source].
Realistically, voters will choose either Charlie Crist or Rick Scott as their next governor. Each has served one term as governor of Florida, creating an opportunity for comparison, although it is important to note that Crist has undergone a significant political shift since his term.
During his 2010 election campaign, Rick Scott stated that he was “not…convinced that there’s any man-made climate change.” Now, Scott’s only comment on the topic is that he is “not a scientist.” [Source]. Contrastingly, Charlie Crist has unambiguously recognized that man-made climate change is real. In response to Scott’s statement, he said, “I’m not a scientist either, but I can use my brain, and I can talk to one.” [Source]. However, let’s not judge by their words. To really see how each candidate will handle climate change, it’s best to compare their previous actions.
Charlie Crist (2007-2010)
Governor Crist pursued both renewable energy and climate change adaption policies from the beginning of his term. He used executive orders, legislation, and political appointees to accomplish these objectives.
Executive Orders [Source]
Leadership by Example: Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Florida State Government (EO 07-126) — Required state government to measure greenhouse gas emissions, record carbon data, and reduce emissions by 40% by 2025. This required future state buildings to be constructed to be energy efficient
Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions within Florida (EO 07-127) — Established maximum greenhouse gas emission levels for electric utilities. Utilities were required to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025, and to 20% of 1990 levels of 2050. 
EO 07-127 Continued — Adopted stricter motor vehicle tailpipe emission standards, requiring a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions by 2016. Increased appliance energy efficiency standards by 15%.
Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change (EO 07-128) — Established a team, appointed by the governor, that would develop a climate change action plan. The team would submit recommendations for legislation.
Legislation [Source]
Florida Climate Protection Act of 2008 (HB7135)
Requires changes to the Florida Building Code increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings and homes by 50% by 2019
Investor-owned utilities must develop a standardized interconnection and metering program for customer-owned renewable generation (i.e. residential solar panels)
Requires Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a statewide renewable portfolio standard specifying a minimum percentage of retail electricity supplied by renewable energy
Requires Florida Department of Environmental Protection to create a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions
Florida joined The Climate Registry, an interstate program to gather and share GHG emissions data. Major emitters in the state are required to monitor and report their emissions accordingly. 
Established the Florida Energy and Climate Commission to coordinate state efforts on energy and climate change. The Commission was tasked with developing energy efficiency projects, raising funds for climate adaptation, etc.
Requires the Public Service Commission to adopt energy efficiency goals under FEECA (the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act) that will increase the “development of demand-side renewable energy systems.” In effect, this means the PSC must adopt goals, to be implemented by all investor-owned utilities, which will expand residential solar programs. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 366.82(2).
Policy Actions [Source]
Installed solar panels on the roof of the governor’s mansion
Public Service Commission: Under Crist, the PSC adopted moderate energy efficiency goals for utilities in its 2009 FEECA goal-setting proceeding. The Commission adopted a new test for analyzing efficiency measures which favors increased efficiency goals and selects measures that are more accessible to low-income communities. The Commission also initiated a residential solar pilot program in compliance with the change made to the law in 2008.
The PSC also denied applications to build six new coal-fired power plants, preventing what would have been a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. 
Note on the PSC: The makeup of the PSC has remained nearly identical from Governor Crist to Governor Scott, as Scott reappointed the same people who were selected by Crist. [Source]. That being said, the PSC is an appointed body that is politically beholden to the governor. The same group of people have made remarkably different policy decisions across the Crist and Scott administrations.
Rick Scott (2011-2014)
During his election campaign in 2010, Scott publicly stated that he was not convinced that climate change was real or anthropogenic. Once in office, Governor Scott disassembled and ended the climate initiatives approved under Crist’s administration.
Legislation [Source]
State Departments—Reorganization—Transfer of Powers and Duties (SB2156, 2011)
Eliminated the Florida Energy and Climate Commission
Effectively eliminated the Department of Community Affairs by terminating or relocating all of its responsibilities
Repealed the Florida Climate Protection Act of 2008 
Policy Actions [Source]
Florida Department of Environmental Protection ceased climate change policy development and programs. 
Public Service Commission: The PSC is currently reviewing the FEECA energy efficiency goals for 2014-2019. The goals proposed by utilities are to achieve almost zero energy efficiency, and cancel the solar pilot program launched under the Crist administration.
Takeaway
Charlie Crist made climate change mitigation and adaptation a serious priority during his time as governor. Rick Scott moved our state backwards by undoing the positive actions of the Crist administration, and has consistently failed to act on climate change. 

What Matters In the Florida Governor’s Race: Climate Change Policy

The impacts of climate change are being felt worldwide. Florida is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, and more intense weather systems. [Source]. Climate change cannot be ignored in the Sunshine State, and it is crucial that Floridians elect a governor who will tackle these issues appropriately. A July 2014 poll indicated that 71% of likely voters in Florida recognize climate change as a serious issue, and 60% believe the state should do more to prepare for its impacts. [Source].

Realistically, voters will choose either Charlie Crist or Rick Scott as their next governor. Each has served one term as governor of Florida, creating an opportunity for comparison, although it is important to note that Crist has undergone a significant political shift since his term.

During his 2010 election campaign, Rick Scott stated that he was “not…convinced that there’s any man-made climate change.” Now, Scott’s only comment on the topic is that he is “not a scientist.” [Source]. Contrastingly, Charlie Crist has unambiguously recognized that man-made climate change is real. In response to Scott’s statement, he said, “I’m not a scientist either, but I can use my brain, and I can talk to one.” [Source]. However, let’s not judge by their words. To really see how each candidate will handle climate change, it’s best to compare their previous actions.

Charlie Crist (2007-2010)

Governor Crist pursued both renewable energy and climate change adaption policies from the beginning of his term. He used executive orders, legislation, and political appointees to accomplish these objectives.

Executive Orders [Source]

  • Leadership by Example: Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Florida State Government (EO 07-126) — Required state government to measure greenhouse gas emissions, record carbon data, and reduce emissions by 40% by 2025. This required future state buildings to be constructed to be energy efficient
  • Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions within Florida (EO 07-127) — Established maximum greenhouse gas emission levels for electric utilities. Utilities were required to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025, and to 20% of 1990 levels of 2050. 
  • EO 07-127 Continued — Adopted stricter motor vehicle tailpipe emission standards, requiring a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions by 2016. Increased appliance energy efficiency standards by 15%.
  • Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change (EO 07-128) — Established a team, appointed by the governor, that would develop a climate change action plan. The team would submit recommendations for legislation.

Legislation [Source]

  • Florida Climate Protection Act of 2008 (HB7135)
  • Requires changes to the Florida Building Code increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings and homes by 50% by 2019
  • Investor-owned utilities must develop a standardized interconnection and metering program for customer-owned renewable generation (i.e. residential solar panels)
  • Requires Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a statewide renewable portfolio standard specifying a minimum percentage of retail electricity supplied by renewable energy
  • Requires Florida Department of Environmental Protection to create a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions
  • Florida joined The Climate Registry, an interstate program to gather and share GHG emissions data. Major emitters in the state are required to monitor and report their emissions accordingly. 
  • Established the Florida Energy and Climate Commission to coordinate state efforts on energy and climate change. The Commission was tasked with developing energy efficiency projects, raising funds for climate adaptation, etc.
  • Requires the Public Service Commission to adopt energy efficiency goals under FEECA (the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act) that will increase the “development of demand-side renewable energy systems.” In effect, this means the PSC must adopt goals, to be implemented by all investor-owned utilities, which will expand residential solar programs. See Fla. Stat. Ann. 366.82(2).

Policy Actions [Source]

  • Installed solar panels on the roof of the governor’s mansion
  • Public Service Commission: Under Crist, the PSC adopted moderate energy efficiency goals for utilities in its 2009 FEECA goal-setting proceeding. The Commission adopted a new test for analyzing efficiency measures which favors increased efficiency goals and selects measures that are more accessible to low-income communities. The Commission also initiated a residential solar pilot program in compliance with the change made to the law in 2008.
  • The PSC also denied applications to build six new coal-fired power plants, preventing what would have been a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Note on the PSC: The makeup of the PSC has remained nearly identical from Governor Crist to Governor Scott, as Scott reappointed the same people who were selected by Crist. [Source]. That being said, the PSC is an appointed body that is politically beholden to the governor. The same group of people have made remarkably different policy decisions across the Crist and Scott administrations.

Rick Scott (2011-2014)

During his election campaign in 2010, Scott publicly stated that he was not convinced that climate change was real or anthropogenic. Once in office, Governor Scott disassembled and ended the climate initiatives approved under Crist’s administration.

Legislation [Source]

  • State Departments—Reorganization—Transfer of Powers and Duties (SB2156, 2011)
  • Eliminated the Florida Energy and Climate Commission
  • Effectively eliminated the Department of Community Affairs by terminating or relocating all of its responsibilities
  • Repealed the Florida Climate Protection Act of 2008 

Policy Actions [Source]

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection ceased climate change policy development and programs. 
  • Public Service Commission: The PSC is currently reviewing the FEECA energy efficiency goals for 2014-2019. The goals proposed by utilities are to achieve almost zero energy efficiency, and cancel the solar pilot program launched under the Crist administration.

Takeaway

Charlie Crist made climate change mitigation and adaptation a serious priority during his time as governor. Rick Scott moved our state backwards by undoing the positive actions of the Crist administration, and has consistently failed to act on climate change. 

I have a lot of feelings on this subject, but Molly Caro May expresses them so impeccably that it’s probably best if you just read what she has to say.

There is one question that has always nagged at me when I consider the naming issue: If there is total equality in a relationship, shouldn’t the child take the last names of both spouses? May addresses this point perfectly, and settled all of my doubts:

When I told my most public feminist friend about our last name decision, she made a fair point.

“But that seems uneven,” she said, “to just have your name as the last name, and not include Chris’ name as part of that.”

It was uneven, but it had been uneven the other way for millennia (though matriarchal societies did exist once upon a time) and sometimes the pendulum has to swing wildly before it can even out. I would never advocate for all children having their mother’s last names. But imagine if 50% them did. Imagine the social impact on our collective unconscious. It would be a movement requiring no money, no lobbying, no elbow grease. It’s a choice anyone of any background can make—harder for some, I know. And our naming system would actually be diverse. No one gender would occupy it.

People might say these are small peanuts, but language is never small. Language shapes how we view things before we even know we are viewing them. How we name something determines how we value it. If women’s last names are consistently absent from history, never passed down, then where is their—our—value?

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, near Tallahassee, Florida

A few weeks ago I went hiking here with friends. The summertime heat and humidity made for a challenging day, but it was well worth it. In the fall and spring, St. Marks is a major stop for migratory birds and Monarch butterflies. When we were there, we saw white ibis, Great Blue heron, an osprey, and a few other birds I didn’t recognize. 

Summer at Earthjustice
Earthjustice is a nonprofit organization that exercises the power of the law to preserve the environment. Their slogan is perfectly accurate: Because the earth needs a good lawyer. Earthjustice is structured like a law firm, with managing, senior and associate attorneys, but there are no billable hours requirements or other “Big Law” systems since the organization is not profit-driven. Clients are typically environmental organizations like Sierra Club or the National Wildlife Federation, or sometimes they are individual citizens who have mobilized around an issue. The clients do not pay for legal services, though they may be asked to cover additional expenses such as rates for an expert witness at trial. 
There are ten offices around the country, with the headquarters located in San Francisco. Each office tends to focus on different types of cases based on the issues in that region. For example, the Washington, D.C. office does a lot of work with EPA rulemaking procedures under federal environmental legislation.
I am working at the Tallahassee office this summer. It is the only office in the South, and although most of the cases are in Florida, they sometimes handle cases for other southeastern states as well. The predominant issue in the Sunshine State is, by far, water: there isn’t enough of it, and it is polluted.
My own experience at Earthjustice as a summer law clerk has been fantastic so far. The time is flying by - I can’t believe I’ve already been here for over a month! Tallahassee is a small office, with five attorneys and two support staff. Because the group is so small, when things get busy the attorneys absolutely need the help of the clerks, which means I get exposed to many aspects of the legal practice. 
As summer goes on, I plan to write about some of our cases in detail, but for now here is an idea of some of the projects I’m working on:

Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection —- On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Ichetucknee Alliance, we challenged the minimum flows and levels (MFLs) that were set by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. When a river has such a decreased flow that the ecology of the water body is endangered, SRWMD must develop a Recovery Plan and set MFLs to restore the river to health with sufficient water flow. We brought suit in the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) because the SRWMD adopted MFLs that are so low, they will not restore the river’s flow, and will in fact permit the river levels to decrease even further. This harms the ecology and stability of both rivers.


In re: Commission review of numeric conservation goals (Tampa Electric Company) —- The Florida Public Service Commission is the state agency that regulates public utilities, and under the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), the PSC must hold hearings to consider available technologies, demand, etc. and set efficiency goals for utility companies for the next five years. This proceeding is going on right now, and our client is the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). The utilities have proposed that their efficiency goals should be zero — basically, that they shouldn’t have to reduce any energy consumption through efficiency. That is ridiculous under both the intent and rules of FEECA, so our client has intervened to shed light on the best way to set efficiency goals and what those goals should realistically look like.

Summer at Earthjustice

Earthjustice is a nonprofit organization that exercises the power of the law to preserve the environment. Their slogan is perfectly accurate: Because the earth needs a good lawyer. Earthjustice is structured like a law firm, with managing, senior and associate attorneys, but there are no billable hours requirements or other “Big Law” systems since the organization is not profit-driven. Clients are typically environmental organizations like Sierra Club or the National Wildlife Federation, or sometimes they are individual citizens who have mobilized around an issue. The clients do not pay for legal services, though they may be asked to cover additional expenses such as rates for an expert witness at trial. 

There are ten offices around the country, with the headquarters located in San Francisco. Each office tends to focus on different types of cases based on the issues in that region. For example, the Washington, D.C. office does a lot of work with EPA rulemaking procedures under federal environmental legislation.

I am working at the Tallahassee office this summer. It is the only office in the South, and although most of the cases are in Florida, they sometimes handle cases for other southeastern states as well. The predominant issue in the Sunshine State is, by far, water: there isn’t enough of it, and it is polluted.

My own experience at Earthjustice as a summer law clerk has been fantastic so far. The time is flying by - I can’t believe I’ve already been here for over a month! Tallahassee is a small office, with five attorneys and two support staff. Because the group is so small, when things get busy the attorneys absolutely need the help of the clerks, which means I get exposed to many aspects of the legal practice. 

As summer goes on, I plan to write about some of our cases in detail, but for now here is an idea of some of the projects I’m working on:

  • Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Protection —- On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Ichetucknee Alliance, we challenged the minimum flows and levels (MFLs) that were set by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. When a river has such a decreased flow that the ecology of the water body is endangered, SRWMD must develop a Recovery Plan and set MFLs to restore the river to health with sufficient water flow. We brought suit in the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) because the SRWMD adopted MFLs that are so low, they will not restore the river’s flow, and will in fact permit the river levels to decrease even further. This harms the ecology and stability of both rivers.

  • In re: Commission review of numeric conservation goals (Tampa Electric Company) —- The Florida Public Service Commission is the state agency that regulates public utilities, and under the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA), the PSC must hold hearings to consider available technologies, demand, etc. and set efficiency goals for utility companies for the next five years. This proceeding is going on right now, and our client is the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). The utilities have proposed that their efficiency goals should be zero — basically, that they shouldn’t have to reduce any energy consumption through efficiency. That is ridiculous under both the intent and rules of FEECA, so our client has intervened to shed light on the best way to set efficiency goals and what those goals should realistically look like.

Recent Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I reread this a few weeks ago. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors and it’s always nice to come back to her work. I especially enjoy this book by her because of the dystopian, futuristic setting. For whatever reason, it is always interesting to consider what our world could become. 
I was reminded of The Handmaid’s Tale today because in news footage of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (some employers don’t have to provide birth control to employees as part of health insurance coverage), they showed a protestor with a sign that said, “Read the Handmaid’s Tale!” I love that someone decided to make a sign with this literary reference! On the other hand, the protestor made a good point, and it is alarming to consider the slippery slope of closing off access to birth control. 
If you haven’t read this book, it is a fascinating story with great character development. It reads directly through the viewpoint of the main character, Offred, which can feel limiting because you never know any more than she does. I found the perspective interesting because it made me feel closer to the character and more connected to the story as it played out. 
This is a great introduction to Margaret Atwood, but she has lots of other wonderful books too! I recommend The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake.

Recent Read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I reread this a few weeks ago. Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors and it’s always nice to come back to her work. I especially enjoy this book by her because of the dystopian, futuristic setting. For whatever reason, it is always interesting to consider what our world could become. 

I was reminded of The Handmaid’s Tale today because in news footage of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (some employers don’t have to provide birth control to employees as part of health insurance coverage), they showed a protestor with a sign that said, “Read the Handmaid’s Tale!” I love that someone decided to make a sign with this literary reference! On the other hand, the protestor made a good point, and it is alarming to consider the slippery slope of closing off access to birth control. 

If you haven’t read this book, it is a fascinating story with great character development. It reads directly through the viewpoint of the main character, Offred, which can feel limiting because you never know any more than she does. I found the perspective interesting because it made me feel closer to the character and more connected to the story as it played out. 

This is a great introduction to Margaret Atwood, but she has lots of other wonderful books too! I recommend The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake.

If you read the poems Akhmatova wrote about that night, you get the impression that they slept together, but, according to Ignatieff, they barely touched. Their communion was primarily intellectual, emotional and spiritual, creating a combination of friendship and love. If friends famously confront the world side by side and lovers live face to face, Berlin and Akhmatova seemed to somehow enact both postures at once. They shared and also augmented each other’s understanding.
David Brooks, Love Story, NYT