WASHINGTON — Environmentalists are taking out newspaper ads and making phone calls in an effort to convince two Florida Republicans to vote for a sweeping climate change bill that most Republicans are expected to reject.
The National Wildlife Federation and the Florida Wildlife Federation have targeted Sarasota Rep. Vern Buchanan and Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as potential supporters of a bill the groups say is critical to Florida.
“Florida could be one of the most affected states,’’ said Jay Liles, policy consultant for the Florida Wildlife Federation, which contends global warming and rising sea levels could swamp Florida’s coastline.
The group took out ads in the Bradenton Herald and the Key West Citizen urging the two Republicans to back the measure, which could be up for a vote as early as today.
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The legislation is a top priority for the Obama administration, and President Obama on Thursday urged lawmakers to back the legislation he said would create green jobs.
Liles, who lobbied lawmakers on a visit here this week, said the group targeted Buchanan because he has occasionally backed Democratic legislation and represents a district that has embraced renewable energy.
House Republicans have lambasted the bill as a “national energy tax,’’ and House Republican Leader John Boehner said Thursday he’d “never seen anything this ridiculous.’’
A spokeswoman for Buchanan said Thursday he hadn’t yet taken a position. Buchanan said in a statement he was “glad people are paying attention to this important issue because global warming is a genuine threat to our environment that we should all take seriously.’’
And he noted he had supported climate change legislation sponsored by Sens. John Warner and Joseph Lieberman that stalled in the Senate.
Ros-Lehtinen also said she hadn’t decided how to vote on the bill, but called global warming “real and man-made.’’
Liles said Ros-Lehtinen was targeted because she represents the ecologically vulnerable Florida Keys and is a Republican leader.
“If she were to say, ‘Look folks this is important to my district,’ a lot of other Republicans would follow her,’’ Liles said.
But Ros-Lehtinen, who was one of a handful of Republicans signing a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seeking consensus, noted that she was “very mindful of the constituents I represent who struggle every day on their fixed incomes to meet their mounting bills.”
“My hope is that we can find a consensus and strike the right balance between safeguarding the environment and safeguarding the finances of America’s working families,’’ she said.