Right now, you can call Charlie Crist the Arnold of the South.
Florida's governor doesn't have Arnold Schwarzenegger's glitzy green swagger. Charlie Crist is a modest guy whose home address is a rented condo in St. Petersburg. It's not likely you'll ever see Crist on the cover of Newsweek twirling the globe on his finger.
No matter. What Crist does have is Schwarzenegger's commitment to fighting global warming. As the governor of a fast- growing state that is perhaps the most vulnerable in the union to the effects of climate change, Crist is both taking the problem seriously and showing his fellow Republicans that it's OK to do so.
In fact, it's even OK for Republican governors to go mano-a-mano in environmental one-upmanship. Miami Mayor Manny Diaz told Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that "my governor is going to be greener than your governor."
Somewhere in the great beyond, Theodore Roosevelt is shouting "Bully!"
Take a closer look. Crist's administration has been on a clean energy tear.
Last month, his Department of Environmental Protection pulled its support for expanding a coal-fired power plant near Gainesville.
The day before the Fourth of July, Florida utilities dropped plans to build a conventional coal-fired power plant near Tallahassee. Crist called a press conference to say, essentially, "hooray."
Try to imagine Don Young or James Inhofe crowing about the demise of a coal plant.
On July 13, Crist wrapped up a two-day climate change summit that he hosted in Miami. He planned to cap the event by signing executive orders to toughen motor vehicle emissions standards, make state agencies more energy-efficient, expand renewable energy, and put Florida on a path towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
Just about everybody who is anybody on the environmental scene was at Crist's summit. Schwarzenegger dropped by to rev up the crowd. Big-name keynote speakers included Arnold's cousin-in-law, Robert Kennedy Jr., and Theodore Roosevelt IV, great-grandson of the great conservationist.
Crist's summit attracted scientists, utility guys, businessmen, technology developers, architects, environmentalists, and ordinary citizens.
Three guesses who didn't show up. No, make that one guess. No major figure from the reality-challenged federal government showed up to give a speech, work the crowd, or even to take notes.
Asked about that, Crist said that time waits for no man. "They're not here, but we are," the governor told the Miami Herald.
Keep on eye on Charlie Crist. Arnold of the South? Maybe in a few years, they'll be calling Arnold the Charlie of the West.
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