What Will Nikki Do?
That’s the question I’ve had on my mind a lot over the last month.
What will Nikki do?
That’s Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and 2022 Democratic candidate for Florida Governor Nikki Fried. Three friends of mine and I filed what’s called a Petition for Rulemaking to demand that her office comply with a 2006 Florida law that calls for our government agencies to create the rules and steps for businesses to reduce carbon pollution, while also eliminating the systemic cause of that pollution: fossil fuels. Friday, February 5th will mark 30 days since my friends and I filed our Petition and the law allows the government 30 days to respond to our request.
Yesterday my friends, our lawyers, and I met with the Commissioner and her Staff to discuss our Petition, its status, and her office’s next steps. I don’t yet know what the Department of Agriculture and, within it the Office of Energy, will do but I can say that the time has come for Florida’s political leaders to follow the 2006 law, something that has sadly not happened since it was implemented nearly two decades ago. Just think about that. Nearly two decades after a law was created to commence eliminating fossil fuels and to shift energy sources to sustainable ones in one of the most fragile places on the planet, and our entire government has done exactly nothing to create the rules and processes to demand compliance. And we wonder why our climate crisis only gets worse by the day.
Commissioner Fried has frequently talked about our climate crisis but has thus far failed to take any meaningful action to address the cause of the pollution caused by fossil fuels. In 2019 Commissioner Fried, for example, addressed the attendees of the Florida Energy & Climate Summit and talked about the urgent need for Florida and America to address energy and climate issues including saying this:
“It’s time as the nation’s third largest state – using the third-most energy – to face the facts on climate change and energy efficiency, and start preparing for the future. There’s no time to wait. Greenhouse gases are up 400% since 1950, and over 900 people move to Florida every day – we have to change how we use energy. That’s why today, I’ve unveiled an ambitious package of legislation to address greenhouse gas emissions, fund research on climate resilience and sustainability, and help fund energy and water efficiency upgrades on Florida’s farms.”
Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, October 3rd, 2019
Or, consider that in early 2021 the Commissioner said the following:
“Florida is one of the states most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Our leaders should be moving forward on clean energy-instead they are upholding a system that raises costs for consumers and protects special interests at the expense of our future. We have to break the system.”
Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried
I sure do agree with that sentiment. Yes, we do need to “break the system,” our antiquated use of fossil fuels, and along with it our energy distribution system, including the overt control of power creation and distribution by monopolistic public utilities far more interested in their investors and profits than eliminating pollution no matter what their expensive advertising might otherwise suggest. But, the issue is that such comments and speeches are just talk.
It is now essential that we see actual action and, thus, this week’s response to our Petition, a petition that young people all over Florida have enthusiastically signed on to support (thanks everyone!), holds the promise of allowing Florida to take a serious, meaningful step towards addressing the cause of our climate change crisis.
So tonight, on the eve of the Commissioner’s deadline to respond to the Petition that my friends and I have presented to demand that the talk comes to an end and the solutions commence, let’s all ask and wonder “what will Nikki do?” And here’s to hoping she does the right thing, the bold thing, and, remarkably, the thing that none of Florida’s so-called leaders have been willing to do in the 16 years since the law that called for action was created.
To learn more about our petition or to join us as we demand that the state of Florida take action to address the cause of our climate crisis please visit the petition website here.