Alternative energy choices must be embraced

On Aug. 6, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions hosted an energy town-hall meeting and panel discussion featuring U.S. Rep. Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Keys and part of Miami-Dade County.

The meeting, which was live-streamed from Florida Keys Community College’s center in Marathon, combined a live panel discussion with questions submitted from the audience via social media. The purpose was to address energy and environmental issues facing residents in Florida’s 26th congressional district, the entire state and the country.

Today in Washington, it seems more time is spent arguing about the things that divide us rather than finding solutions that move us forward. Congressman Curbelo is part of a new generation of leaders standing up against partisan bickering and working toward real policy solutions that will benefit South Florida and the country. As the congressman said regarding climate change, “We know that this is a real issue, that the American people are concerned about this issue. And we’re going to start working on solutions that will allow the American people to take ownership over the kind of world and community they want to live in.”

Congressman Curbelo has actively promoted the importance of diversifying energy sources that are powering the 26th District and the solutions that have been proven to grow jobs and our economy. Responding to a question about actions being discussed at the federal level that address energy and global climate-change concerns, the congressman said, “We’ve seen over and over again that big-government, heavy-handed solutions are Band-Aids. Many might be well intentioned but in the long term, they don’t yield the results that people want.”

Part of this future includes clean, reliable energy sources like solar, hydro-power and natural gas. In fact, Florida is one state where renewable energy investment and development represents a vital part of the local economy. A report last year by a group called Clean Energy Works for Us showed that advanced energy industries currently account for an estimated $6.2 billion of annual revenue in the Sunshine State. This industry also accounts for over 130,000 clean-energy jobs at 14,000 businesses that now represent 1.5 percent of Florida’s employment portfolio.

If we want be serious about a comprehensive, clean and reliable national energy policy, we need to be promoting new technologies and innovative solutions. Not only should this be a priority for Congress, but it’s something presidential candidates should pay attention to, as well.

Polling commissioned by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions shows this is an issue that the American people care about — 76 percent of registered voters believe that energy policy should be either a very high or somewhat high priority. And 60 percent of registered voters believe there should be more emphasis on “diversifying our energy sources to include renewable resources of energy like wind, solar and hydropower.” Congressman Curbelo’s involvement in last week’s discussion is proof that he is certainly listening to the concerns of voters.

This is a conversation that needs to be happening now. As chairman of the Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee of the Small Business Committee and a member of the Economic Development Committee and Congressional Coastal Communities Caucus, Congressman Curbelo is committed to ensuring that consumers have a variety of energy options that are reasonable, market-based, and help local business grow.

We thank congressman Curbelo for his leadership on this important issue and for taking the time to personally answer questions that matter to his constituents and to all Americans. To watch the full interview, visit:

James Dozier is executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. He moderated the session, which included Alicia Betancourt from the Monroe County Climate Change Advisory Committee, T.J. Patterson from the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, Steven Grasley from Green Living and Energy Education, Michael Roberts from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact and Christian Camara from the nonprofit R-Street that advocates for limited government.

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