TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A bill making its way through the Florida Legislature, with the support of House Speaker Paul Renner aims to significantly alter the state’s approach to climate change.
House Bill 1645, focused on reshaping Florida’s energy policy, has sparked controversy due to its proposed deletion of the majority of references to climate change in state law.
If passed, the bill would eliminate numerous instances of the phrase “climate change” from existing legislation, including sections addressing greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs and the state’s mission regarding energy and environmental concerns. Instead, the bill highlights ensuring a reliable and affordable energy supply for residents.
One section of the bill that would significantly alter the Florida mission for approaching energy is “The impacts of global climate change can be reduced through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” the existing law stated. “The Legislature further finds that the state is positioned at the front line against potential impacts of global climate change.”
The bill would substitute these sentences with a shorter statement to focus on “an adequate, reliable, and cost-effective supply of energy for the state in a manner that promotes the health and welfare of the public and economic growth.”
The bill also includes some notable changes such as a program that offers grants to local governments and school districts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill aims to reduce regulations on natural gas pipelines, prohibit local governments from regulating the location of natural gas storage facilities, and eliminate the requirement for state agencies and local governments to consider fuel efficiency when purchasing vehicles.
Despite passing the House Appropriations Committee, the bill faced opposition from members of both parties.
This resistance marks a departure from its prior committee approval, indicating growing concern over the proposed changes to Florida’s climate policy.
According to Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, mentioned in the Tampa Bay Times, he opposed the bill due to a provision that would restrict utility companies from selling electricity to people charging electric vehicles at their residences.
Fine, who owns two electric cars, cited this particular aspect of the bill as his reason for voting against it.
“This is going to be the way of the future. These cars are going to become more and more popular over time, particularly as they become less expensive,” Fine stated during the February 8 committee meeting. “We can’t set ourselves up to cripple an industry that is coming down the road — and for the record, is generally run by American companies.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, announced that the bill would be amended soon. However, he did not specify which parts of the bill would be altered.
“Our country would not be where it is today without fossil fuels,” Payne said
Environmental critics argue that state leaders are addressing the symptoms of climate change without openly discussing its human causes.
Interestingly, while the bill seeks to remove references to “climate change,” it does not alter mentions of “sea-level rise” in Florida law.
This selective approach to terminology has raised questions about the bill’s broader implications for addressing environmental challenges in the state.
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