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Florida governor signs controversial bill that deletes over 50 lines from state statutes: 'It's just going to make us less proactive and prepared'

"Jeopardizes the health and safety of all Floridians."

"Jeopardizes the health and safety of all Floridians."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill May 15 to remove the phrase "climate change" from state statutes and alter how the state makes energy policy decisions.

What's happening?

As of July 1, local governments will no longer be able to regulate energy policy, and offshore wind farms will be banned within a mile of the coast, Florida Phoenix reported. DeSantis cited "restrictions, regulations, and taxes" imposed by "radical green zealots."

The bill disallows considering "the potential of global climate change" in state energy policy and disavows Florida's role as a leader in "promoting energy conservation, energy security, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," according to the Phoenix. State agencies will no longer have to consider environmental impacts when purchasing vehicles and other items or booking hotels. 

The law also urges studying small nuclear reactor technology, increasing the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles, and enhancing electric grid security, the Associated Press reported via NPR.

In 2008, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, signed a bill to address rising global temperatures and promote renewable energy. It passed through the Florida legislature unanimously, per the AP. This undoing will remove more than 50 lines of that law.

DeSantis canceled an appearance to sign the bill because of inclement weather.

Why is disregarding 'climate change' important?

Florida is being disproportionately impacted by the human-induced heating of the planet, which is caused by the use of dirty energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas. Since 1950, global temperatures have risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Florida Climate Center. In the Sunshine State, that figure is 3.6 Fahrenheit, increasing extreme heat days and precipitation as well as causing more frequent and severe hurricanes and floods.

"I think it's taking us absolutely in the wrong direction," state Rep. Lindsay Cross said. "We can't deny that climate change is happening. Whether you trust the 99% of scientists who do believe in climate change, we know that weather is getting worse, that we have more extreme weather patterns with a very active hurricane season predicted. 

"Combined with the destruction that we've already had in this state, stripping the words 'climate change' out of statute isn't going to make it go away, it's just going to make us less proactive and prepared."

Sierra Club Florida Clean Energy organizing manager Brooke Alexander-Goss said the law "jeopardizes the health and safety of all Floridians, further proving that his top priority is to appease large corporations and fossil fuel companies," noting gas prices and insurance premiums will increase.

The law will also increase the state's reliance on natural gas, which already accounts for 74% of electricity generation, the AP reported. It will also reduce the regulation of gas pipelines and protect against the prohibition of gas appliances.

Last year, the DeSantis administration turned down $674 million in federal funding for energy efficiency initiatives and vehicle pollution reductions.

What's being done about climate problems?

Other states are leaning in to solutions. New England has become a leader in heat pump installations, while Texas surpassed California in October with the most solar power in the country.

You can help push toward a cleaner, safer future by voting for political candidates who take climate issues seriously, holding corporations accountable, and changing your buying habits.

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