Governor DeSantis Fails to Protect Florida’s Environment and Economy

Since its inception, Sierra Club Florida has opposed HB 1645, which the group believes will have far-reaching and devastating consequences for Florida’s health, economy and environment.

“Another irresponsible decision by Governor DeSantis”, Sierra Club Florida Political Director Luigi Guadarrama said in response to the Republican governor’s signing HB 1645: “Eliminating the few genuine, clean, renewable energy grant programs in the state and giving grants to the gas industry is a slap in the face to hard-working Floridians. “Ron DeSantis is choosing to raise our bills and taxes to benefit large out-of-state oil and gas corporations.”

The progressive group said the bill was designed to actively prevent local governments and state agencies from taking action on the environment by:

  • Make “resilience facilities” for storing and distributing all types of gas a permitted land use in all Florida counties and municipalities, including commercial areas, restaurants and day care centers;
  • Discourage state agencies and local governments from purchasing electric vehicles by requiring them to select the most fuel-efficient models;
  • Reduce public and local government involvement and review of pipelines by expanding the certification exemption for pipelines up to 100 miles in length (compared to the current 15-mile threshold);
  • Achieve genuine clean and renewable energy grant programs in the state while providing cost recovery for the gas industry; and
  • Ban Florida from accessing offshore or offshore wind energy.

“Once again, Governor DeSantis has failed us by signing HB 1645,” said Brooke Alexander-Goss, Sierra Club Florida clean energy organizing manager. “Allowing this bill to become law jeopardizes the health and safety of all Floridians, further demonstrating that their top priority is appeasing large corporations and fossil fuel companies. We will pay more at the pump and for our insurance premiums, and we will certainly see increases in climate-related disasters and deaths. Make no mistake, Florida will continue to fall behind the rest of the country when it comes to investments for a cleaner, healthier future.”

According to the Florida legislature, the bill allows resiliency facilities in local government comprehensive plans and specific districts; Requires rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric companies to enter into mutual aid agreements to restore power after a natural disaster; requires utilities to notify the PSC of power plant recalls; authorizes the PSC to approve voluntary electric vehicle charging programs; prohibits the construction, operation or expansion of certain wind energy facilities and wind turbines; requires PSC to conduct an assessment of the state’s electric grid and natural gas facilities against physical and cyber threats; requires the PSC to evaluate the feasibility of using advanced nuclear energy technologies; requires DOT to study hydrogen fueling infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered vehicles.

In March, Sierra Club Florida sent Governor Ron DeSantis a letter urging him to veto HB 1645.

The Sierra Club believes that inaction on climate change is costly and signing this bill into law will continue a clear trend of skyrocketing property insurance premiums, increasing costs to taxes and taxpayers, intensifying storms and more. The group asserts that as the impacts of climate change become increasingly palpable and solutions become increasingly beneficial to the health and well-being of Florida’s economy and environment, failure becomes less attainable.

Sierra Club Florida stated that it strongly opposes HB 1645 and remains committed to holding lawmakers and the Governor accountable for their inaction on climate change and the negative impacts it has had on Florida families and communities.