Despite warnings from opponents that the state is asking for more than it can deliver, Florida lawmakers sent bills to the governor this week that favor local government utilities and clean energy.
Each of these individuals was opposed by local governments and environmental organizations, especially in large metropolitan areas that were more aggressive than the Florida legislature in pursuing sustainable energy policies. They say local communities are better placed to make those decisions.
“Obviously, the theme of the 2021 Florida legislature is to consolidate power from Florida, to consolidate it into the legislature,” said Michelle Allen of the Food and Water Watch, an environmental advocacy group.
The group is coordinating a letter from Florida lawmakers asking Gov. Ron Desantis to veto the bills.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Every year, lawmakers come across privilege bills that usually seek a special interest that “dislikes what they hear locally” or is part of a larger national movement, says Melissa McKinley, Palm Beach County Commissioner. , President of the Florida Association of States անդամ Member of the Board of the National Association of Counties.
Although it is a national trend, it is growing, he said. “Stakeholders with special interests have ways to get what they want, if they do not get it from their local governments, they have the resources to do it at the state level.”
Special interests in resources
The natural gas industry was behind SB 1128, which would prevent local governments from banning natural gas as an energy source in new construction; limit the ability of local governments to reduce the use of natural gas obtained through fractionation, which releases methane, which deteriorates rapidly. is a climate crisis?
Senate Sponsor Senator Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine said the bill was needed as a warning.
“I do not have a problem with clean energy. “In fact, I encourage everyone, our cities and regions to make clean energy,” he said. “What I’m afraid of is that they take away energy that they think is bad energy.”
Opponents say it could legitimize discrimination.
“This addresses the issue of environmental justice, as many landfills հաճախ landfills are often dumped across low-income communities, colored communities across the state,” said Allen of Food and Water Watch.
The second bill, SB 856, prohibits local governments from imposing restrictions on gas stations, including electric car charging stations.
McKinley said the move was a response to Tampa City talk of alternative fuel vehicles, the possibility of moving away from future fossil fuels.
“There has never been anything that can ever be voted on,” he said. “Nothing worked, but the industry was a little confused by it. Now there is a draft of a preference that will prevent local self-government from regulating such things. It’s frustrating when that happens. “
SB 896 was followed by the energy and utilities industry, which prevented local governments from deciding whether to grant agricultural land permits to agricultural facilities and to redefine methane gas from landfills as renewable energy.
“Expansion of land in agricultural lands is a tangible workable measure to combat climate change while increasing sustainable production,” he said in defense of the bill this week. Cord Byrd, R-Neptune Beach.
He said the bill was needed to standardize “financial assistance to farmers” to standardize the permission of the masses, as “complaints about the establishment of a farmer are widely spread by uninformed neighbors, which delays the special use permit process.”
However, before crossing SB 896, they had carved an exception to help the Church near Archer in Alachua County. Peter historically to this community.
The community was inhabited by liberated slaves in the late 1800s. Decades of members of the same family are buried in the community cemetery. Relatives of the Rosewood massacre still live there.
But when First Solar and Gulf Power found themselves in the heart of the community to lease 630 acres of land for a solar farm, residents responded.
The area where they wanted to build the solar station is a tree farm in the center of the community, surrounded by houses. This was said by Michel Rutledge, a resident of the area who helped organize the community opposition.
He said the attempt to lease the land for exploitation without giving any investment or notice to the community was an example of “environmental racism … the placement of industrial facilities in marginalized communities, such as brown communities in low-income rural areas.” ‘ he said.
“Our families have had property for generations, and members of marginalized communities are required to acquire property, to acquire wealth, to preserve it for future generations,” said Gary Crawford, a resident of St. Peter’s Basilica, one of the few. The remaining African-American historic communities in North Florida. His ancestors were from Rosewood.
The two councils of local government of Alachua County concluded that the industrial plant. “It was not inappropriate or responsible for locating industrial enterprises, such as large power plants in zoned residential, agricultural areas, or places like ours,” Crawford said Thursday.
Lawmakers also paused the community.
After Rutledge testified before the Senate committee, the Senate approved Senator Gary Farmer’s change of D-Lighthouse Point, freeing the St. Peter community from preference. The House passed it, but if the bill is signed into law, future communities will not have that option.
“The consequence of the passage of these privilege bills is the fact that the votes of the most influential will be silenced if the governor signs it,” Crawford said.
Mary Ellen Class can be reached at [email protected] և @MaryEllenKlas