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New Florida Law Mandates and Cities Continue to Use Fossil Fuels

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis speaking at a rally.

This guy loves gas.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Florida has taken a big step back in the clean energy revolution. Gov.Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation in law earlier this week which requires the cities and towns of Florida continue to use fossil fuels and could strangle its capacity set clean energy goals and mandates.

The invoice, SB 1128 / HB 919, is very similar to a slew of other projects that went into state legislatures last year. These pieces of legislation, that is entitled “Prohibit Prohibition” Laws, are sponsored by oil and gas interests. They ‘is part of a public lobbying strike and private panic by industry in response to the growing number of cities they are moving to prohibits natural gas connections under new construction. With its passage, Florida joins Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arizona and Oklahoma to ban new natural gas connections in buildings; at least eight other states have considered similar factors this year. And, like many of these projects, the new Florida law has it the support of the state association of natural gas and other corporate interests.

“It certainly follows the national trend that we are seeing driven by the natural gas industry,” said Alissa Jean Schafer, research and communications specialist at the Institute of Energy and Policy who followed the bill.

But Florida’s bill goes a step further than most. The language in the short bill is much wider than its brethren; states that cities “may not enforce or enforce a resolution, ordinance, rule, code, policy, or take any action that limits or prohibits or has the effect of restricting or prohibiting the types or sources of fuel for energy production ”. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available choice»For Floridians, a term u the gas industry has thrown around while trying to defend itself from gas bans. But that phrase, Schaefer said, opens the bill to many interpretations, and could be read as potentially limiting cities to banning fossil fuels.

“Sometimes they introduce a wide language and then it gets modified, a finer point has been put on that, but this has gone pretty much as it is,” Schaefer said. “It sets a pretty aggressive precedent.”

There are some big cities in Florida with 100% renewable energy targets, including Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, Satellite Beach, Dunedin, Largo, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota and South Miami Beach. Although cities generally don’t have a clue in the energy mix that uses their utilities, these cities, Schaefer explained, are in a unique position to send a signal that they care where their energy comes from. Now, those signals could be stifled at a time when Florida — and the worldit desperately needs to reduce carbon pollution.

“We’ve seen the impacts of climate change already in Florida, so cities are trying to do everything they can to move the needle,” he said. “They use all the political power they have to say that’s the goal. Aand as cities make these goals, it sends a signal to legislators and the utility that this is important. ”

But this project, Schaefer said, could be extended widely, potentially limiting cities from making changes in sectors such as energy efficiency codes and building regulations, or from living education on climate change and energy. clean.

“The proposed law leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “We regularly see the utility fighting non-binding resolutions anyway. NHow is it in his back pocket, is that what will give him ammunition? “

According to Schaefer, the politicians pushing the project into Florida Hyou said it is it would not be used against local cities, and municipalities seeking to set their own energy goals. But she said she saw it hypocrisy there.

“For me, it’s very disappointing to say that a goal can be made on the one hand, and on the other hand pass legislation that prevents that goal from being respected, ”he said.“ It’s a slap in the face to local voters who seek to pass these resolutions ”.

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