Ignoring Climate Change is Not a Winning Strategy

Dr. Chelsea Rivera & Brooke Ward

Florida Republicans are so afraid of climate change that they’ve passed a law to never speak of it. As Florida is on fire, underwater, and unaffordable, our state government is rolling back climate change legislation and removing it from consideration in formulating state energy policy. Last week, Gov. DeSantis signed an Energy Omnibus bill, HB1645, that will remove the requirement that the state even consider climate change when creating energy policy, and it deletes nearly all references to climate change in state laws and regulations. This is even though Florida has seen record heat, record flooding, and record rising insurance rates all around the state. The law also makes approving natural gas pipelines easier and preempts the ability of local governments to regulate gas pipelines and storage facilities in their communities. One could crop up next door to a school or convenience store and nothing could be done to remove it without Tallahassee’s intervention.

The law makes Florida even more vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change although we are already one of the most, if not the most vulnerable state to face its impact, so say MidPoint guests Brooke Ward, Senior Florida Organizer for Food & Water Watch, and Dr. Chelsea Rivera, Climate Equity Policy Fellow for Central Florida Jobs With Justice on our May 22, 2024 show.

Despite being called the “Sunshine State,” Florida obtains 74% of its energy generation from fracked natural gas, yet the new law also deletes language that sets renewable energy goals in Florida. Dr. Chelsea Rivera said it actively inflicts harm and sabotages any progress we could’ve made. The bill does more than passively remove consideration of climate change in setting policy goals; it actively inflicts harm to the environment because it increases the production of fracked natural gas and natural gas has 80% more global warming power than carbon dioxide.

Our guests also warned us that millions of dollars in utility costs will be shifted to residential customers and away from large corporate customers by TECO in the next rate-setting plan the utility has proposed for 2025. If approved by state regulators, a typical household would be charged at least $200 more annually for base rates over what it is paying now, according to TECO’s filings. Public hearings are slated for June in the Tampa Bay area and the Public Service Commission will proceed with the case in Tallahassee. A final decision is expected by the end of the year.

For more information on these issues from our guests, listen to the entire show here, on the WMNF app, or as a WMNF MidPoint podcast available everywhere. You can learn more from Food & Water Watch here and Central Florida Jobs With Justice here.



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