DeSantis’ Big Gift to Big Gas

Florida International University Solar House at Engineering Campus

Image: Junior Henry, Creative Commons

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

Cities and towns across Florida can no longer ban fossil fuels and prioritize clean energy projects after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law.

  • The bill preempts local plans that restrict or prohibit energy planning, nullifying 100% clean energy commitments in cities from Tallahassee to Sarasota.
  • The law takes control of energy infrastructure out of local government and puts it in the hands of the state legislature, which has been “heavily influenced by the state’s utility monopolies through political contributions and other favors,” as the Miami Herald wrote when the bill was moving through the Florida Senate. 

Why This Matters: Florida is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitting state in the country, with the third-largest population. A whopping 70% of the state’s electricity comes from gas and the bill means that cities won’t be able to phase out the use of gas. This decision to lock in dirty energy sources worsens the intensifying climate crisis in the state and beyond.

It will both “lock Florida into a dirty fossil fuel future. . .permanently silence voices of local communities, and remove residents from the conversation on how we power our homes and businesses,” the Clean Energy For All coalition said in a statement.

Pass On The Gas: As Electrek wrote:

Natural gas is dirty.

  • Natural gas (mostly burned for electricity) produces 34.7% of Florida’s CO2 emissions, according to the US Energy Information Administration (table 3), behind petroleum, which produces 51.8% of the state’s emissions (mostly burned in cars).
  • The electricity sector as a whole makes up 43.5% of Florida’s total emissions, which is disproportionately higher than the national average.
  • Also, natural gas’s emissions might even be higher in reality due to unaccounted-for fugitive methane emissions.

Seas are rising, gas keeps going: Florida is a state that’s more acutely experiencing the effects of a warming planet. Sea level rise, more intense hurricanes, and increasingly dangerous hot days are all threats that Floridians are currently experiencing. Miami, a city actively working on the climate impacts at its shore, was planning to ban gas hookups in new construction to meet its carbon neutrality goals. That ban is exactly the type of climate action that the new bill will preempt. 

DeSantis also signed a coastal resilience bill earlier this year, but dealing with the destructive end results of the climate crisis while squashing efforts to take on the root cause is not solving the problem by any stretch of the imagination.

Worse yet, Florida’s utilities are preventing homeowners from making the most of the state’s immense potential for solar power.

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