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Tampa Tribune: Florida Cabinet should sound off on EPA plan

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency has just bought itself more time for public comments during which it should take an active role in listening to Florida’s families.

At the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, we hear daily from some of the 80,000-plus minority-owned businesses that know what higher electricity rates would do to their finances. They depend on reasonable, predictable and achievable regulations to run their businesses. The proposed EPA regulations do not meet this criterion.

Existing power plants are providing affordable electricity across our state and nation. Recent natural gas discoveries are helping to shift the focus away from coal toward cleaner fuels such as natural gas. This evolution is occurring in a market-driven fashion that allows rates to stay affordable while addressing environmental concerns.

A sudden about-face from the EPA that would harshly dictate which fuels are available for power generation would disrupt this path and make electricity rates higher. As a result, we might see the end of the return of manufacturing to this country and a dip in our recovering economy.

Florida families and small businesses do not need to experience the financial shock of skyrocketing utility bills. We can better achieve our goals through a balanced plan.

As our members of the Florida Cabinet campaign around the state, we would encourage them to weigh in on this issue during the expanded comment period before the deadline of Dec. 1.

We should drive the EPA to thoroughly analyze the real costs to Americans and Floridians on this clean power plan. After all, the purpose of this EPA public comment period is to listen to Americans, not to simply check off a box in the rush to impose arbitrary and poorly conceived regulations.

We believe the strong members of the Florida Cabinet can influence this process by talking about the issue and telling the EPA what this would mean for Florida.

Julio Fuentes

Lake Worth

The writer is president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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