DeSantis signs Florida bill downplaying climate crisis and banning offshore wind turbines

’We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy,’ says DeSantis

Via AP news wire
Thursday 16 May 2024 05:41 BST
Related: How will the climate crisis affect US voters?

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Climate crisis will be a lesser priority in Florida and largely disappear from state statutes under legislation signed on Wednesday by Florida governorRon DeSantis that also bans power-generating wind turbines offshore or near the state's lengthy coastlines.

The measure, which takes effect on 1 July, also would boost the expansion of gas, reduce regulation on gas pipelines and increase protections against bans on gas appliances such as stoves, according to a news release from the governor's office.

The Republican governor is casting the bill as a common-sense approach to energy policy.

“Florida rejects the designs of the left to weaken our energy grid, pursue a radical climate agenda, and promote foreign adversaries,” the Republican governor said in a post on the X social media platform.

“The legislation I signed today [will] keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state,” he wrote in another post.

“We're restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.”

Florida is already about 74 per cent reliant on gas to power electric generation, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Critics of the bill say it ignores the reality of climate crisis threats in Florida, including projections of rising seas, extreme heat, flooding and severe storms.

“This purposeful act of cognitive dissonance is proof that the governor and state Legislature are not acting in the best interests of Floridians, but rather to protect profits for the fossil fuel industry,” said Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of the nonprofit Cleo Institute, which advocates for climate crisis education and engagement.

The legislation also eliminates requirements that government agencies hold conferences and meetings in hotels certified by the state’s environmental agency as “green lodging” and that government agencies make fuel efficiency the top priority in buying new vehicles.

It also ends a requirement that Florida state agencies look at a list of “climate-friendly” products before making purchases.

In 2008, a bill to address climate crisis and promote renewable energy passed unanimously in both legislative chambers and was signed into law by then-governor Charlie Crist, at the time a Republican. Former governor Rick Scott, now a Republican US senator, took steps after taking the governor’s office in 2011 to undo some of that measure and this latest bill takes it even further.

The measure signed by Mr DeSantis would also launch a study of small nuclear reactor technology, expand the use of vehicles powered by hydrogen and enhance electric grid security, according to the governor’s office.

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