Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 19, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.
Who are those guys running for President, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble?
Here were the top energy policy talking points at Tuesday's presidential debate:
Obama: I love coal.
Romney: No, I love coal.
Obama: Yeah, but I love clean coal.
Where do these guys live, Bedrock?
Even among fossil fuels, coal is a dinosaur that's slowly being squeezed out of the market by natural gas.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that “coal's share of total net generation dropped to 34 percent, the lowest level since at least January 1973.”
And “clean” coal? Believe that and I've got one of Fred's old foot-powered autos I'd like to sell you.
Listen, if Romney and Obama are still fighting over who loves King Coal the most, they aren't likely to talk much about coal's biggest 21st-century legacy, climate change, when they meet for their final debate Monday in Boca Raton.
And that's a pity, because our skinny little peninsula is very much in harm's way as the seas begin to rise and the weather starts to get really wacky.
In fact, some argue, Florida communities can already see the shape of things to come.
Last week, more than 120 local government officials and scientists from around the state signed a letter to Fred and Barney — oops, I mean Obama and Romney — asking them to please explain their plans for addressing global warming when they meet in Boca Raton.
“Because Florida is so densely populated,” the letter said, “it is estimated 40 percent of the population and housing units at risk from sea level rise in the nation are here, in the state of Florida.”
And make no mistake, Floridians are already paying the price of Washington's neglect.
Salt water intrusion is killing fresh-water marshes on Sanibel Island and hardwood forests around Tampa Bay.
Salt water is turning up in the drinking wells of coastal communities like Cedar Key.
Seasonal high tides are overwhelming the ability of storm water pipes to control flooding from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach.
While the pols in D.C. argue over who loves the coal lobby the most, local officials around Florida are making plans to cope with rising sea levels ... and they are adding up the bills.
Miami Beach figures to spend $206 million to overhaul its drainage system. The South Florida Water Management District is looking at millions more for new pumping stations.
“We just spent $10 million on new wells because salt water seeped into six of our wells that were close to the coast,” Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Keith London, one of the signers of the letter, said recently. “We're skimming water off of the top of another two wells because salt water is at the bottom.”
Legendary House Speaker Tip O'Neill used to say that “All politics is local.” Turns out the same is true for science.
“As citizens and scientists concerned about the impacts and costs of sea level rise on our nation, we urge you to address this issue when you will be in Boca Raton,” the letter pleads.
Seriously, guys, it's time to get us the heck out of Bedrock.