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Energy Preemption Bills Await Gov. DeSantis' Signature, And One Could Lead To Lawsuits

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Environmental groups are concerned about energy legislation now awaiting the Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. If signed into law, activists say the measure would take away authority from local governments to control pollution from utilities. This session, the identical bills were known as House Bill 919 and Senate Bill 1128.

Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the governor needs to veto the legislation.

There are about 10 Florida communities that have committed to move to 100% clean energy, and she said this legislation will hamper those efforts.

"Until we had a new election for president, at the national level, we have had no action to protecting our environment from climate change. And we've had a longstanding lack of leadership at the state level when it comes to reducing this dangerous greenhouse gas emissions," said Glickman.

“It's been very important for local governments and regional resilience initiatives to create plans to bring more energy efficiency and clean renewable energy and to electrify transportation so we can reduce the pollution that's driving the warming of our planet.”

She said organizations are reaching out to DeSantis, asking him for a veto. If he signs the bill into law, she expects a host of lawsuits to follow.

Another energy preemption measure sitting on the governor’s desk was narrowed so much that Glickman said it’s no longer an immediate concern. The companion bills were known as House Bill 839 and Senate Bill 856. She said it started out as a very broad preemption on any kind of energy infrastructure.

"The way it originally read is, literally someone could frack for gas or build a pipeline in front of your house, but it was narrowed to only focus on traditional gas stations… so no community can ban having gas stations in their community," said Glickman.

She said there had been no reports of any communities actually trying to ban gas stations, and added that lawmakers also put into the legislation that gas stations could not be compelled to add electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“It's very interesting given that so many of the major car manufacturers are announcing electric vehicles and some are going to go completely electric, she said. “You would think that the traditional gas stations might want to get in on that opportunity."

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7.

Jessica Meszaros is a reporter and host of All Things Consideredfor WGCU News.
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