Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says climate change not a reality, deprioritises bill

Florida State Governor Ron DeSantis has signed HB 1645, a bill that unexpectedly alters the state’s stand on climate change and energy policy.

Climate change will be a lesser priority in Florida and largely disappear from state statutes under legislation signed Wednesday, May 15 by Gov. DeSantis, which also bans power-generating wind turbines offshore or near the state’s lengthy coastlines. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)(AP)

It repeals almost 50 terms linking the state laws to global warming and inherits the 2008 renewable energy initiatives signed by the previous Governor, Charlie Crist.

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Not only does it outlaw offshore wind turbines and remove barriers for gas pipelines, but it also suggests eliminating the requirement for the state government to prioritize “climate-friendly” products.

DeSantis kept ‘windmills off Florida’s beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state’

Governor DeSantis posted on X saying, “We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.” He further said the bill would “keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state,” in the post.

The bill also tasks the Florida Public Service Commission with developing an energy infrastructure that is both cost-effective and resilient to various threats. Additionally, it proposes extending the Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Siting Act’s certification requirement from pipelines of 15 miles or more to those exceeding 100 miles.

The Florida Natural Gas Association praised the bill, claiming it will “maintain and encourage reliable fuel sources for public utilities, remove federal and international control over Florida’s energy policies, and allow consumers to choose their energy source”

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Dale Calhoun, the association’s executive director, remarked, “This law strengthens natural gas infrastructure resiliency and reliability, which are critical to the state’s economy, the ability to recover from natural disasters and the health, safety, welfare and quality of life of Floridians.”

Democrats and environmentalists push back against Florida energy bill

Despite some support for the bill, Democrats and environmentalists have opposed the part where the bill says, “The Legislature finds that the state’s energy security can be increased by reducing dependence on foreign oil. The impacts of global climate change can be reduced through the decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the implementation of alternative energy technologies can create new jobs and employment opportunities for many Floridians.”

Senator Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) highlighted Florida’s vulnerability to climate disasters, saying, “We are surrounded by water, and the effects are showing.”

The bill replaces parts of the existing law that acknowledge the role of alternative energy technologies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs with a more generic statement about ensuring an adequate and cost-effective energy supply.

DeSantis has been known for his skepticism towards climate change, having previously criticized the fear surrounding global warming and climate change as “driven by ideology, not reality.”

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“This is driven by ideology, it’s not driven by reality,” he said. “In reality, human beings are safer than ever from climate disasters.”

In 2023, his administration rejected over $350 million in federal funding aimed at making Florida homes more energy efficient.

The bill’s ban on offshore wind turbines is justified by Senate bill sponsor Jay Collins (R-Tampa) as a measure to protect wildlife, ecosystems, and to address concerns about noise affecting tourism.

Despite the bill’s enactment, a recent poll showed that 68% of Floridians believe the state government should take more action on climate change, with 58% attributing it to human activity.

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