Speaking in Cedar Rapids Sunday, Marco Rubio told an audience that he doesn’t support policy aimed at curbing climate change. He contends such policy will “destroy” the American economy without helping the environment.
Rubio said that, as a lawmaker, he’s been shown policies that would do nothing to change the sea level or the Earth’s temperature, yet would cost “hundreds of thousands” of jobs and make America less competitive, according to an account from The Des Moines Register.
While that stance may warm the hearts of Iowa caucus voters, South Florida mayors concerned about sea level rise have a different opinion.
On Tuesday a bipartisan group of 15 mayors in the South Florida region released a letter they sent Rubio last week, requesting a meeting to discuss risks facing Florida communities because of climate change. The letter highlights climate change’s toll in South Florida and asks the candidate to “acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the crisis it presents our communities.”
The mayors say a similar letter was sent to former Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign office. Neither office responded to the requests.
The bipartisan group of mayors included Tomas Regalado, mayor of the City of Miami; Jack Seiler, mayor of Fort Lauderdale; and Jeri Muoio, mayor of West Palm Beach.
The letter notes that in 2006 Rubio acknowledged the reality of climate change.
“Senator Rubio, ignoring climate science and doubling down on fossil fuels will only make the climate crisis more rapid and expensive. With the presidential election fast approaching, it is critical that your positions on these issues are well informed by the experience of our communities. Please meet with us to discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States.”
The mayors say they would like to meet with Rubio by the end of next month.
The letter was organized as a joint initiative of ClimateTruth.org and The CLEO Institute. ClimateTruth.org is a climate advocacy organization whose 190,000 members fight the denial, distortion and disinformation that block bold action on climate change. The CLEO Institute, located in Miami, Florida is a not-for-profit organization advancing climate literacy and civic engagement locally, nationally, and globally.
Read the entire letter below:
Open Letter from Florida Mayors to Senator Marco Rubio
As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities. Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today. We will need leadership and concrete solutions from our next president. As a candidate for that office hailing from Florida, we ask you to meet with us to discuss the future of our communities in a warming climate.
We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Sea levels off the coast of South Florida rose about eight inches in the twentieth century. As a result, we have seen more tidal flooding, more severe storm surges, and more saltwater intrusion into aquifers. By 2050, mean sea level around Florida is expected to rise about a foot, a shift which could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida. At three feet of sea level rise, the loss could total $31 billion, with large sections of the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the Miami metropolitan region under water.
Local governments are working to manage the present and future challenges of climate change. Many are collaborating at the regional level through the Southeast Florida Climate Compact. Locally, communities across the state are developing action plans, investing in stormwater pumps, upgrading stormwater and sewer systems, and revising building codes. However, these expensive measures to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure will only serve as a temporary stopgap unless global warming emissions are substantially reduced.
Adapting to climate change at the local level is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need a realistic national plan to slow global warming emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The science is well established: protecting the long-term future of our cities must include preventing global temperatures from rising above the internationally recognized target of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To get there, we need strong leadership from our next president to achieve national policies that reduce global warming emissions at home and global leadership to ensure other countries are doing their part. The U.S. should be at the forefront of the transition to clean energy, creating jobs for Americans while conserving our environment for future generations.
Senator Rubio, as a U.S. Senator representing Florida and former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, you should know the risks ahead and articulate a plan for U.S. leadership on climate. Indeed, in 2006, you acknowledged the reality of climate change and promoted solutions including energy efficiency measures, tax incentives for renewable energy, and alternative fuels. You supported hybrid vehicles because they save money “while reducing emissions and helping to curb global warming.” However, you have since reversed course and claimed that you “don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.” In a speech on our energy future this October, you dismissed efforts to develop renewable energy and called climate action “trying to change the weather.”
Senator Rubio, ignoring climate science and doubling down on fossil fuels will only make the climate crisis more rapid and expensive. With the presidential election fast approaching, it is critical that your positions on these issues are well informed by the experience of our communities. Please meet with us to discuss the risks facing Florida communities due to climate change and help us chart a path forward to protect our state and the entire United States. We cordially request a meeting by Feb 29, 2016.
Peggy Bell, Mayor of Cutler Bay
Jim Cason, Mayor of Coral Gables,
Joy Cooper, Mayor of Hallandale Beach,
Daniel Dietch, Mayor of Surfside
Eugene Flinn, Mayor of Village of Palmetto Bay,
Connie Leon-Kreps, Mayor of North Bay Village,
Cindy Lerner, Mayor of Pinecrest,
Mayra Peña Lindsay, Mayor of Key Biscayne,
Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach,
Martin Packer, Bal Harbour,
Tomas Regalado, Miami
Gary Resnick,Wilton Manors,
Jack Seiler, Fort Lauderdale,
Glenn Singer, Golden Beach
Philip Stoddard, South Miami Mayor