DeSantis signs law that could make climate change worse

Climate Change

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Giselle Balido

May 16, 2024

The new law comes even as a recent poll shows 68% of Floridians want the state government to do more to combat climate change.

Mostly surrounded by water, Florida is perhaps the state most vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather, with hurricane seasons that grow in intensity every year.

Despite this, climate change will be a lesser priority in Florida and largely disappear from state statutes under legislation signed Wednesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The newly signed legislation that takes effect July 1 strips the term “climate change” from much of state law and moves the state’s energy goals away from the reduction of greenhouse gasses blamed for climate change by promoting the expansion of natural gas, reducing regulation on gas pipelines in the state, and increasing protections against bans on gas appliances such as stoves.

It also eliminates requirements that government agencies make fuel efficiency the top priority in buying new vehicles and ends a requirement that Florida state agencies look to climate-friendly products before making purchases.

 

RELATED: Climate Change Has ‘Irreversibly’ Impacted Florida’s Environment and Economy

 

The newly signed law comes as a Florida Climate Resilience Survey of more than 1,400 Floridians shows that 68% want the state government to do more to combat climate change, and 69% want the federal government to do more to address the issue.

A clear and present danger

For Floridians, climate change is not a future concern; it is a clear and present danger.

“It’s not hyperbole to say that there is no other state that has more to lose over this issue than the state of Florida,” said Pepper Uchino, president of the Florida Beach and Shore Preservation Association.

As sea levels continue to rise, roughly 1.1 million people will be at risk of losing their homes. And with hurricanes growing stronger and more dangerous because of warmer waters, Latinos are concerned for their physical safety, plus the rising cost of insurance and the expense of preparing their home for the major weather event, according to a report from Dream Corps Green for All in partnership with UnidosUS Action Fund.

In fact, one of the major concerns among Florida Latino voters cited in the report is the impact that extreme heat is having on energy costs, “with 56% worried about not being able to afford the financial burden of increased energy consumption.”

These concerns are not unfounded. As reported in The Washington Post, in mid-May, temperatures set records across South Florida, with Key West “registering a heat index of 115 — matching the highest mark on record for any time of year.”

 

RELATED: DeSantis Receives a D- Grade from Environmental Group for ‘Refusal to Address Climate Crisis’

 

Despite the very real impact to the environment, and Floridians’ expressed desire to address climate change, DeSantis posted a celebratory note on the X social media platform after signing the bill.

“We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots,” he wrote.

DeSantis’ post drew strong criticism from climate change advocates like Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of the nonprofit Cleo Institute, which advocates for climate change education and engagement.

“This purposeful act of cognitive dissonance is proof that the governor and state Legislature are not acting in the best interests of Floridians, but rather to protect profits for the fossil fuel industry,” Arditi-Roca said.

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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