Florida could remove most references to climate change from state law

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A bill moving through the Florida House with support from the House speaker would remove most references to climate change in state law.

House Bill 1645 would enact far-reaching changes to Florida’s energy policy, which House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) said would help ensure the state’s residents have reliable and affordable electricity. states that it is necessary.

In the process, the bill would remove the phrase “climate change” mentioned in current law eight times (compared to seven times when the phrase is left alone). In some cases, the phrase may be removed from the text, leaving it largely intact. In other cases, the bill would repeal entire provisions of the law that reference climate change, such as grant programs that help local governments and school districts reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would also ease certain regulations regarding natural gas pipelines, preempt local control over the location of natural gas storage facilities, and eliminate the need for state agencies and local governments to consider fuel economy when purchasing vehicles. It includes contents such as.

One of the sections of state law that would be most dramatically changed by this bill describes Florida’s mandate for how it approaches energy.

Part of the current law reads: “Congress recognizes that the effects of global climate change can be reduced through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” “Congress further recognizes that states are on the front lines against the potential impacts of global climate change.”

The bill replaces these language with a shorter statement of purpose: “To provide the nation with adequate, reliable, and cost-effective energy in a manner that promotes the health and well-being of the people and economic growth.” is focused on.

“This comes despite the increasing effects of climate change in the state each year, with more people affected by more powerful hurricanes, rising sea levels, and hotter summers. “The statement makes a statement. I don’t think that’s something that should be considered in the state of Florida,” said Bradley Marshall, Tallahassee senior attorney with the environmental law group Earthjustice.

The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, but some members of both parties voted against it. This was even more resistance than the last time the bill met, after it passed bipartisan unanimously in committee last time.

Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, voted against the bill in part because it would limit the ability of power companies to sell electricity to people who charge their electric cars at home, he said. Ta. Fine he owns two electric cars.

“This is going to be the way of the future. These cars are going to become more and more popular over time, especially as they get cheaper,” Fine told the committee Thursday. “We can’t paralyze the industries that are coming. For the record, these industries are typically run by American companies.”

Organizer Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, said the bill would be amended soon, but did not say which parts might be changed.

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He added that he had a “difference of opinion” with Mr Fine over the future of electric cars. Payne also said the United States has spent billions of dollars on “climate change initiatives and ideologies that are not appropriate for our country,” with no significant results.

“Without fossil fuels, our country would not be where it is today,” he told the committee.

Speaker Renner took a different approach Thursday when asked about the bill’s removal of many references to climate change. He highlighted efforts by state leaders to protect Florida from flooding and sea level rise, the effects of climate change that Republican leaders have recently begun to address through new legislation and infrastructure spending. But environmental critics say the state’s leaders are focusing on the symptoms rather than addressing or speaking up about the human causes of climate change.

House Bill 1645 does not change the fact that Florida law mentions “sea level rise” more often than “climate change.”

“We don’t have to be agnostic, but we have to accept the world as we find it. So if the climate is changing and it has negative effects, we should be prepared to respond to flood protection and… We will set aside significant funding for resiliency,” Renner said. “I don’t think what we’re doing with perhaps outdated programs and other things should be interpreted as a lack of engagement with what’s going on in the environment. On the contrary…we’re building on resilience. We will not retreat one bit from any one state and will accept whatever the climate throws at us.”

Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau staff writer Romy Ellenbogen contributed to this report.

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