Florida Eliminates Climate Change Provisions From State Law

The bill boosts protections against appliance bans instituted by regional homeowners associations.
Florida Eliminates Climate Change Provisions From State Law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters at the Sheraton Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 15, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Naveen Athrappully
5/20/2024
Updated:
5/20/2024
0:00

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that removes “climate change” as a key focus in state laws, promotes the use of natural gas, and curtails offshore wind power projects.

Mr. DeSantis signed HB 1645, “Energy Resources,” on May 16.
The bill repeals the Florida Energy and Climate Protection Act and amends state statutes, removing the following provisions related to climate action from state law:
  • Florida is supposed to “recognize and address the potential of global climate change wherever possible.”
  • The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must engage in advocating “climate change issues.”
  • “The impacts of global climate change can be reduced through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
  • Florida is “positioned at the front line against potential impacts of global climate change.”
  • “A single government entity with a specific focus on energy and climate change is both desirable and advantageous.”
HB 1645 eliminates requirements related to the “Florida Climate-Friendly Preferred Products List.” This provision had instructed the Department of Management Services to consult with the Department of Environmental Protection and assess whether items available for purchase under state contracts include products that have “clear energy efficiency or other environmental benefits” over alternatives.

State agencies were required to procure such products if prices were comparable. By striking down this provision, agencies are no longer obligated to refer to the Florida Climate-Friendly Preferred Products List and buy products that fall under the category.

The bill also removes a “Green Lodging” provision that mandated agencies to choose for meetings only hotels or conference facilities that have received such a designation from the Department of Environmental Protection.

In addition to removing climate change provisions from Florida law, HB 1645 strengthens laws protecting the use of natural gas in the state.

It sets up limitations on how local governments can regulate natural gas resiliency and reliability infrastructure. The infrastructure is maintained by public utilities to temporarily deploy natural gas reserves when there is a power system outage or natural disaster.

The bill eliminates a rule requiring the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to consider the development of renewable energy resources and a reduction in dependence on resources such as oil and natural gas when making long-term forecasts of energy supply and demand.

The minimum length of an intrastate natural gas pipeline that requires certification has been extended from 15 miles to 100 miles.

The new rules prevent homeowners associations from banning certain fuels and appliances that use these fuels, thus boosting protections against appliance bans.

HB 1645 prohibits the construction or expansion of offshore wind energy facilities in the state. This rule bans wind turbines or energy facilities within one mile of the Florida coastline, within one mile of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway or Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and on state waters and submerged lands.

The bill directs the Public Service Commission to study and evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of using advanced nuclear power technologies to fulfill the state’s power needs.

Provisions of the bill are expected to take effect on July 1.

Countering ‘Radical Climate Agenda’

The Cleo Institute, a pro-climate organization, slammed the signing of HB 1645, calling it a “major step backwards for Florida’s progress towards a sustainable and resilient future.”

“The new law removes the word ‘climate’ from Florida’s statutes in nine different instances and significantly changes the overall energy goals of the state,” it said. “The new law makes multiple changes in law that will limit renewable energy production and likely expand the use of fossil fuels.”

Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of The Cleo Institute, claimed that Floridians are on the front lines of rising extreme heat, rising sea levels, more severe storms, more frequent flooding, and increasing property insurance costs.

Mr. DeSantis and the state Legislature are not “acting in the best interests” of Florida’s citizens but instead are prioritizing the fossil fuel industry’s profits, she alleged.

In a May 16 post on social media platform X, Mr. DeSantis said that the new legislation will keep windmills off Florida’s beaches and restore “sanity” in Florida’s approach to energy.
“Florida rejects the designs of the left to weaken our energy grid [and] pursue a radical climate agenda,” he said in another post.
The Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an energy advocacy group for businesses and families, welcomed the new rules. Kevin Doyle, CEA’s Florida executive director, thanked Mr. DeSantis for “moving this important legislation forward into law.”

“Reliable and affordable energy is vital for Florida’s families and businesses and crucial for our health, safety, and welfare. Diversification of Florida’s fuel supply is a necessary measure in advancing the reliability and sustainability of energy for Floridians,” he said.

“Through comprehensive reforms, HB 1645 promotes policies that ensure Florida’s energy future is secure. This legislation promotes the development of natural gas and renewable energy resources and prioritizes energy production and infrastructure improvements.”

HB 1645 allows Florida’s utility firms to build redundancy into their operations. This will ensure that utilities can offer their energy services with greater reliability during peak demand and extreme weather events, according to the CEA.

Energy rates in Florida are already lower than the national standard because of the diverse portfolio the state has, according to the organization, which stated that the bill will “maintain the benefits Florida’s energy innovation has provided thus far.”