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With the label of “independent”, comes the freedom to return to moderate policies for Governor Crist in Florida.

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shredded yard waste

A Florida bill that would reverse a longtime prohibition on yard waste from being dumped into landfills was vetoed by Governor Crist

Long time moderate Charlie Crist made his way to the Governor’s office in Florida as a Republican who often shunned radical republican politics in favor of a moderate stance more in tune with the majority of those in Florida. That was until the run-up for the republican primary race for the open senate seat being vacated by Senator LeMieux. In a battle to see who can appeal more to the more extreme parts of the Republican Party, Crist’s once moderate positions seemed to becoming increasing extreme. Relying on the far right’s call for small government and cost containment, Crist denied any Florida state representatives to attend the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Washington DC in February. He did so, and maintained the ban on out of state travel, even though the costs of the travel would have been billed to the federal government and allowed the State of Florida to voice its concerns at the meeting at no cost to the Florida taxpayers. But when running to be “out-conservative” others in the race for the Republican primary, common sense seemed to have been sacrificed for political expediency.

But perhaps with Crist’s new moniker of independent, he is able to move back to policies that were more typical of his governing style. Yesterday Crist bucked the Florida legislature and vetoed a bill that would have allowed yard trash to be buried in landfills rather than recycled.

 While supporters of the bill stated that dumping ever increasing amounts of organic materials into Florida’s landfills would result in increased amounts of methane – a greenhouse gas that operators proposed to capture and make into energy, the more astute people following this debate were quick to point out that it was really the increased tipping fees that would result from dumping yard trash into landfills. Especially in tight economic times, what does a landfill operator need? More trash.

pile of mulch

Florida waste site operators lobbied to allow yard waste to be dumped into landfills, arguing that some of the methane could be captured and turned into electricity. Skeptics charged that landfills just wanted in the increases in tipping fees to line their pockets.

But Crist isn’t buying the quasi-science cited by those arguing for HB 569, and on June 1st he signed a letter outlining reasons for vetoing the bill. In Crist’s list of reasons there is one that I believe to be oddly omitted: any increase in greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane which has much more of punch than CO2 in terms of warming the planet, is a really bad idea when you live in a very flat state which is very close to the current sea level, much less the height oceans may reach of sea level rise models are correct.

How will these more moderate policies fare in the race for the U.S. Senate this fall? With as close as elections in Florida often are, even when the balloting machines are working correctly, it’s going to be an interesting race.

The author is a scientist by training and the owner of W.H. Nuckols Consulting, an environmental policy firm. 


Written by Will Nuckols

June 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

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