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Study: Florida Emissions Up Since 1990

Despite limited industrial use, Florida ranks fifth among U.S. states in greenhouse gas emissions, but per capita releases of carbon dioxide and other ozone-damaging gases has remained flat between 1990 and 2007, according to report released Thursday by a Boston-based environmental group.

Overall, Florida’s collective emissions jumped 36 percent during the period, with much of that increase tied to population growth, according to findings from a study conducted by the Environment America Policy and Research Center.

On a per capita basis, Florida in 2007 ranked 41 among states in the production of gases linked strongly to global warming and climate change, roughly the same spot it held in 1990.

“Population had a lot to do with the increase,” said Environment Florida associate Susan Bucci. “But the goal is still to reduce emissions to pre-1990 levels.”

The U.S. Department of Energy statistics held Florida accountable for about 258 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the air in 2007, or about 15 tons per person. Texas led the nation in total volume with 675 million metric tons released during the year.

Nationally, emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption increased by 19 percent between 1990 and 2007, the report found. Power plants and vehicles were largest sources of carbon dioxide emission.

In Florida, electrical generation and transportation in 2007 accounted for 49 percent and 44 percent of total emissions respectively. Industrial use accounts for less than 5 percent. Given the mix, supporters say the state should do all it can to provide incentives to use renewable fuels and conserve.

“We should build tax structures that encourage job creation in fields like solar power and weatherization programs,” said Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando.

On a per capita basis, Wyoming and North Dakota, two of the nation’s most sparsely populated states, led the nation with 125 and 84 tons of emissions generated respectively in 2007 for every man, woman and child.

Overall, the group found one-third of states have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Many of those have reduced emissions while seeing increases in Gross Domestic Product, Bucci said.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist made renewable and alternative fuel use a plank on his gubernatorial campaign. High fuel prices and a downturn in the economy, however, have shifted the some of Florida’s focus to another alternative, expanding exploration efforts in the eastern Gulf.

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