Last week, Red Green and Blue assessed the green credentials of John McCain’s potential presidential running mate, Charlie Crist. As the Florida Governor signs a landmark multi-billion dollar deal to preserve the Everglades, we ask again, is it possible to love big oil and be green at the same time?
Earlier this month, Florida Governor Charlie Crist won a lot of friends in the oil industry by suggesting that he could live with oil-wells off the coast of Florida. In the same week he also gained support from environmentalists for brokering an agreement that will reclaim 300 square miles of the Everglades from sugar farming.
So why should we care? Well it just so happens that Crist is the Governor of a crucial swing-state in the upcoming presidential election, as well as being a contender for the Republican Vice-Presidential slot.
Since taking office last year he has installed solar panels on the roof of the Governor’s mansion, and gained quite a reputation for his environmentally friendly policies, which include pushing state regulators to prioritise renewable energy and conservation projects over the approval of new coal-fired power stations.
Then came the announcement, this Tuesday, of his move to restore the Everglades wetlands by signing a $1.75 billion deal to purchase 300 square miles of land currently being used for sugar production by U.S. Sugar. The agreement effectively shuts down America’s largest sugar producer, while preserving one of the state’s most fragile ecosystems.
Just when he was almost in danger of changing the image of the Republican’s as the party of big business, Crist has made positive noises about the prospect of drilling for oil off the Florida coast. Environmental campaigners say the move could drastically alter the politics of oil exploration by putting a 27 year-old congressional moratorium on drilling in federal waters in “grave danger.”
Responding to critics pointing out that such a deal would accelerate climate change, Crist said, “We’re in an energy crisis now. You have to look at trying to help the American family, and try to get more domestic production in a responsible, safe, clean way, but at the same time realize that the long-term goal is alternative fuels, renewables.”
Is there a really a ‘middle way’ between oil exploration and alternative energy, one that enables politicians to walk the tightrope between economic and environmental concerns? Or is it time that our leaders got off the fence and sent out a stronger unequivocal message in favour of oil or renewable energy?