As we celebrate yet another Earth Day, let us not commiserate over our losses, but rather let us celebrate once more the beauty that surrounds us. Step outside and look at the stars, glistening in the night’s sky; marvel at the flowers and trees that are rich in bloom after a winter’s slumber; breathe in unadulterated air. All of this is ours. Let us fight to protect it.
To do this, we must encourage individuals and businesses to think green and be environmentally responsible. I will continue to advocate for green jobs, and I am currently sponsoring HB 447, which will provide incentives for businesses by giving tax credits to companies that create qualifying green jobs. I am a fervent believer that we can change our economy to become more productive and energy efficient if we reward companies that move in a “greener” direction.
I am also sponsoring HB 1375, which will provide a tax-free period on the purchase of Energy Star appliances, to reward consumers for being green. At the beginning of each school year, we reward parents all across the nation by eliminating sales taxes on school clothes and school supplies. This practice not only encourages spending and boosts the economy; it sends a message to Americans that the government appreciates their commitment to investing in their child’s education. HB 1375 does the same by sending a message to Americans that the government appreciates their commitment to “go green” by purchasing energy efficient appliances.
On Friday, April 22, I encourage everyone to get involved in saving our planet in whatever way that you can. There are several ways to get involved; you may plant a tree, car pool, ride the bus to work or even advocate for increased environmental awareness. I carpooled to work today, on Earth Day, and my entire office worked with the lights off; we opened the blinds to our windows and utilized natural sources of light, such as the sun.
Our office is also encouraging the entire Florida legislature to go green. We gave away one free, CFL light bulb to members of the Florida legislature in an effort to conserve electricity. Each CFL light bulb is said to use 75% less energy than a standard bulb.
There is a need for a better energy policy in Florida. As the Chairman of the Green Schools Caucus and as the Ranking Democrat on the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee, I ask you to join me as I celebrate Earth Day, and let us work together for a greener future. To learn more about what you can do as part of Earth Day 2011, visit earthday.org
Rep. Alan B. Williams represents Florida’s 8th District in the State Legislature.