EDITORIAL: ‘Florida Is Uniquely Vulnerable’

Jun 13, 2008

The Ledger--June 13, 2008

A much-needed climate-change bill was defeated a week ago today in the U.S.

Senate when supporters fell short of the votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

It was a setback in the effort to combat global warming, but we are pleased to note that Florida Sen. Mel Martinez was one of six Republicans who voted to end the filibuster that stymied action on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

‘Climate change is the most important environmental issue of our generation,’ Martinez stated. ‘I voted to move the issue forward in Congress because Florida is uniquely vulnerable to the threats of rising sea levels and intensified hurricanes that could result if carbon emissions go unchecked.’

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson was among the 48 Democrats and independents who voted to end the filibuster.

The bill called for caps on ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists say the warming, in large part, results from pollution released when vehicles, utilities and industries burn carbon-based fuels such as gasoline, oil and coal.


The consequences of global warming, besides the higher sea levels and effects on tropical storms that Martinez cited, include other extreme weather conditions, animal and plant species extinction, and changes in growing seasons.

When the attempt to end the filibuster failed on a 48-36 vote — 12 votes short of the 60 needed — the Democrats decided to withdraw the bill. Legislative action will have to wait until after this fall’s presidential and congressional elections.

In the meantime, voters should demand that candidates explain their position on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act and what steps they would support to combat warming.

When a new Congress convenes next year, Martinez would serve Floridians and the nation well by becoming a key leader on climate change. He clearly understands the seriousness of the threat that carbon pollution poses to people and the environment.

Martinez also understands that a shift in energy policy could mean that consumers will pay more for energy in the short term. But unless the U.S. invests in other forms of energy and new technologies in the next 30 years, he said, ‘we will be facing increased pollution levels, experiencing substantially higher utility rates’ and will be ‘decades behind in finding our own energy independence.’

In 2009, Martinez has a chance to fill the role of Republican moderate in the debate — a role now held by Sen. John Warner of Virginia, who is retiring. Florida, the nation and the Republican Party will need that conservation-oriented voice of reason.