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Gov's climate change speech gets big applause, except for line about oil drilling

With 800 participants representing environmental groups and the major industries of Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist's second summit on global warming opened Wednesday morning with a strong emphasis on how business can work to clean up the environment.

''We know there is gold in green,'' Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp said in opening the conference at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Miami.

As expected, Crist signed into law the wide-ranging green energy bill that he called ``Florida's most comprehensive ever.''

The bill discusses cap-and-trade provisions to penalize greenhouse gases and encourages renewable energy but does not set specifics on either, referring them to groups that will report back to the Legislature.

Crist, wearing a green tie, likened his efforts to move the state toward green standards to President John F. Kennedy's push in the 1960s to put a man on the moon.

''We recognize the undeniable link between our state's environment and our economy,'' Crist said. ``And this year, we want to gain a better understanding of that link. We must consider all of the possibilities -- including those within our reach, and those we can only envision at this point in time.''

He also mentioned the need for ''alternative and renewable energy.'' A key alternative in the minds of many utility executives is nuclear, which was not mentioned by name in Wednesday's opening remarks but has the ability to provide large amounts of power without greenhouse gas emissions.

Crist was interrupted several times by applause from the audience, but there was no reaction when he mentioned his desire to ''enhance domestic oil supply,'' a reference to his recent announcement he would support off-shore drilling.

The Democrats were scheduled to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. outside the Miami hotel, and anti-nuclear demonstrators have said they would appear at the hotel at mid-day.

''The entrepreneurial spirit can develop the clean technology that will liberate us from our current addiction to fossil fuel,'' Crist said. ``We cannot be content with doing things as we always have. We must be innovative, we must reach higher.''

-- JOHN DORSCHNER

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