Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Sierra Club: Governor DeSantis Fails to Protect Florida’s Environment, Economy

Since its inception, Sierra Club Florida has opposed HB 1645, which the group said will have far-reaching and devastating consequences for Florida’s health, economy, and environment.

“Another feckless decision from Governor DeSantis,” Sierra Club Florida Political Director Luigi Guadarrama said in response to Republican Governor signing HB 1645.”Eliminating the few genuine, clean, renewable energy grant programs in the state and giving handouts to the gas industry is a slap in the face of hard-working Floridians. Ron DeSantis is choosing to raise our bills and taxes to benefit large, out of state oil and gas corporations.”

The progressive group said the bill was designed to actively prevent local governments and state agencies from taking action on the environment by:

  • Making “resiliency facilities” to store and distributing all kinds of gas a permitted land use in every county and municipality in Florida, including zones for shopping, restaurants, and daycare centers;
  • Discouraging state agencies and local governments from purchasing EVs by striking the requirement that they select the most fuel-efficient models;
  • Reducing public and local government input on and review of gas pipelines by extending the certification exemption for pipelines up to 100 miles in length (up from the current 15-mile threshold);
  • Striking the genuine clean renewable energy grant programs in the state while  providing cost recovery for the gas industry; and
  • Prohibiting Florida from accessing wind energy on or offshore.

“Once again, Governor DeSantis has failed us by signing HB 1645,” Sierra Club Florida Clean Energy Organizing Manager Brooke Alexander-Goss said. “Allowing this bill to become law jeopardizes the health and safety of all Floridians, further proving that his top priority is to appease large corporations and fossil fuel companies. We will pay more at the pump and for our insurance premiums, and we will certainly see increases in climate-related disasters and deaths. Make no mistake, Florida will continue to fall behind the rest of the country when it comes to investments in a cleaner and healthier future.”

According to the Florida legislature, the bill allows resiliency facilities in local government comprehensive plans and specified districts; requires rural electric coops and municipal electric utilities to enter into mutual aid agreement for restoring power after natural disaster; requires public utilities to provide notice to PSC of power plant retirements; authorizes PSC to approve voluntary electric vehicle charging programs; prohibits construction, operation, or expansion of certain wind energy facilities and wind turbines; requires PSC to conduct assessment of state’s electric grid & natural gas facilities against physical and cyber threats; requires PSC to evaluate feasibility of using advanced nuclear power technologies; requires DOT to study hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered vehicles.

In March, Sierra Club Florida sent Governor Ron DeSantis a letter urging him to veto HB 1645.

Sierra Club believes inaction on climate change is costly and signing this bill to become law will continue a clear trend of skyrocketing property insurance premiums, increased costs to tax and ratepayers, intensifying storms, and more. The group claims that as the impacts of climate change grow ever more palpable and the solutions grow ever more beneficial to the health and well-being of Florida’s economy and environment, failure becomes less affordable.

Sierra Club Florida stated they stand firmly against HB 1645 and remain committed to holding lawmakers and the Governor accountable for their inaction on climate change and the negative impacts it’s had on Florida’s families and communities.

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