This past week Senator Darren Soto called on the the National Parks Service to reject oil exploration in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, citing the danger it posed to Florida’s environment and likening the threat it poses to the ongoing impact of the disastrous BP oil spill. On this Soto is spot on – but as a messenger he’s flawed.
We’ve previously detailed Senator Soto’s willingness to take money from interests that aren’t aligned with progressive causes and his ability to mix liberal rhetoric with conservative votes.
Soto now might act as a champion for the environment, but he has taken more than $10,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since the 2010 cycle, including companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron. And when he had the opportunity to protect our state from a practice that led to an environmental disaster bigger than the BP oil spill, Soto sided with business interests instead.
While in the Florida Senate, Soto voted for the ‘Florida Underground Natural Gas Storage Act,’ a bill to allow the extraction and storage of natural gas in our state. Earlier this year, another underground gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon, California made headlines when workers discovered a massive methane leak there. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a dangerous greenhouse gas – in fact, it’s a fast-acting pollutant that is far more potent than carbon dioxide. Nearly 100,000 tons of methane were emitted in the leak – making Aliso Canyon one of the largest ever recorded.
Thousands of residents in the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood were affected. Children and adults were sickened, reporting a variety of alarming medical symptoms. Thousands of families had to be relocated – thousands more have filed for help.
But Soto’s desire to help energy companies apparently didn’t stop with his vote for the “Florida Underground Natural Gas Storage Act.” During the late summer and fall of 2014 many of Soto’s legislative colleagues as well as candidates for office in both parties targeted Duke Energy’s rate hike. In fact, this became a major issue in the Governor and Attorney General’s races as the ad below run by NextGen Climate reminds us.
- Duke Energy was raising rates at the very point in time Soto accepted the contribution listed below.
Soto, Darren (DEM)(STS) 10/28/2014 500.00 CHE DUKE ENERGY CORP. FLORIDA PAC 550 S. TYRON STREET DEC37D CHARLOTTE, NC 28202 PAC
This was also a period of time when North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was misrepresenting his holdings in Duke Energy, with whom he spent nearly three decades with after a coal-ash spill.
McCrory has of course has more recently made news for his intolerant views toward transgender Americans.
Soto’s double-speak on energy issues continues a pattern of liberal rhetoric mixed with conservative action. In his current race for Congressional District 9, Senator Soto has played progressive and fooled some folks – but ultimately his record will be too much for him to overcome.