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Rep. Castor Talks Climate Change Ahead Of Florida Debates

Jessica Meszaros
WUSF Public Media
Temperatures were near 90 degrees at Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa on May 6, 2019.

Scientists and politicians in Florida are highlighting climate change ahead of the Democratic presidential debates in Miami this week.

Tampa Rep. Kathy Castor, who Chairs the House's Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, said during a phone conference Tuesday that voters in Florida want to know which democratic presidential candidate has the best plan to de-carbonize the economy.

She said they're going to be listening for who can take on President Donald Trump.

Rep. Castor calls the whistleblower at the center of the Trump impeachment scandal, as well as the person who informed them, "patriots."
Credit Julio Ochoa/WUSF
Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, represents Florida's 14th congressional district, covering the city of Tampa and parts of Hillsborough County.

"They know President Trump has sided with polluters over the public interest every time. He has been a road block to clean energy," she said. "We wanna hear which candidate now has the plan, the know how, the wherewithal to tackle the climate crisis."

May of this year broke heat records in the Tampa Bay area with high temperatures of 90 degrees or more for a significant portion of the month. Castor said this issue is personal to Floridians. 

"We're having hotter and longer summers. That produces more intense hurricanes. Toxic algae off our coasts over the past couple of years has impacted our important tourism industry and fishing industry," she said. "Property insurance rates are rising, flood insurance rates are hitting folks hard-- just the basic air conditioning bills and electric bills." 

Castor said she expects the debate monitor to ask candidates about the climate crisis.

The two-hour debates will be held Wednesday and Thursday night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, with 10 candidates participating each night. The debates, the first of the 2020 primary campaign, will be televised by NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report. 

Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.