Environmental Policy News

An 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.1 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,2 a shift which could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida.3 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.4

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.5 You supported hybrid vehicles because they save money “while reducing emissions and helping to curb global warming.”6 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.”7 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.”8

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.

(Editor’s Note: Marco Rubio refused to meet with Florida mayors and spent February 29 campaigning in Nevada, where he lost by over 20%. Florida’s Republican Primary take place March 15.)


Peggy Bell: Mayor, Town of Cutler Bay

Jim Cason: Mayor, City of Coral Gables

Joy Cooper: Mayor, City of Hallandale Beach

Daniel Dietch: Mayor, Town of Surfside

Eugene Flinn: Mayor, Village of Palmetto Bay

Connie Leon-Kreps: Mayor, North Bay Village

Cindy Lerner: Mayor, Village of Pinecrest

Mayra Peña: Mayor. Village of Key Biscayne

Lindsay Jeri Muoio: Mayor, City of West Palm Beach

Martin Packer: Mayor, Village of Bal Harbour

Tomas Regalado: Mayor, City of Miami

Gary Resnick: Mayor, City of Wilton Manors

Jack Seiler: Mayor, City of Fort Lauderdale

Glenn Singer: Mayor, Town of Golden Beach

Philip Stoddard: Mayor, City of South Miami

1 “Mean Sea Level Trend 8724580 Key West, Florida,” NOAA: Tides and Currents http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8724580

2 “Come Heat and High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas,” Risky Business, July 2015 http://riskybusiness.org/site/assets/uploads/2015/09/Climate-Risk-in-Southeast-and-Texas.pdf

3 “Rising sea levels, falling real estate values,” Miami Herald, 11-09-2015 http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article1957294.html

4 “A Region Responds to a Changing Climate: Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Counties Regional Climate Action Plan,” Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, October 2012 http://www.southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/regional-climate-action-plan-final-ada- compliant.pdf
5 “How Rubio’s stance on energy, climate shifted from ‘friendly’ to conservative,” E&E News, 03-13-2015 http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060014992

6 Ibid.

7 “Sen. Marco Rubio: Yes, I’m ready to be president,” ABC News, 05-11-2014 http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/05/sen-marco-rubio-yes-im-ready-to-be-president/
8 “Marco Rubio’s energy policy centers on drilling and reversing Obama rules,” New York Times, 10-16-2015 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/17/us/politics/marco-rubios-energy-policy-centers-on-drilling-and-reversing-obama- rules.html?_r=0

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