Category Archives: Sea Rise

Woke? How About We Wake Up!

“The United States has spent billions on a climate change initiative and ideology that is unfitting for our country without significant results. Our country would not be where it is today without fossil fuels.”

Florida Representative & HB 1645 Sponsor Bobby Payne, R- Palatka

Investigative journalists all over Florida today have been reporting that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office was directly involved in authoring provisions of Florida’s apparently soon to be new ULTRA UTILITY INDUSTRY FRIENDLY energy legislation, House Bill 1645. This horrific pending law awaits the Governor’s signature but if enacted it would do far more to take Florida’s energy policy back into the fossil fueled dark ages than just limit wind power as the article’s headline (“DeSantis’ office quietly backed ban on wind energy in Florida — onshore or off”) below announces. Some of the bill’s changes include:

  • Removing legislative wording from current laws related to global climate change to, I guess, act as if the climate is not changing and sea level rise is not threating our state;
  • Eliminating any mention of energy policy goals related to sustainable energy or global climate change;
  • Making “resiliency facilities” to store and distribute all kinds of gas a permitted land use in every county and municipality in Florida permissible;
  • Discouraging the state and local governments from purchasing electric vehicles;
  • Reducing public and local government input on and review of gas pipeline projects under 100 miles in length;
  • Eliminating the few clean renewable energy grant programs Florida has while providing utilities the ability to recover their costs related to the gas industry;
  • And, yes, it prohibits wind energy within a mile of the coast as well as offshore.

Candidly, the bill is an embarrassment to the State of Florida. It so overtly panders to Florida’s electric utilities at the expense of the State’s consumers and our environment that we should question the very fitness to hold office of anyone who sponsored it, helped author it, or voted for it. Scientifically, Florida is well known to be ground zero for America’s climate crisis, especially sea level rise. Seas are rising. Temperatures are rising. Local governments all over the state are desperately planning for how much (or little) of their communities they can save in the decades to come and I can only wonder how humiliated they must be to learn that the state government and governor are supporting the electric utilities powered by fossil fuels over taxpayers or saving as much of Florida as possible. The pending law is, simply stated, a disgrace and anyone attached to it should be ashamed to do this to our environment and Florida’s future generations.

So why would your elected officials do this? Well, it’s certainly to help the utility industry. The next time you see or hear a Florida utility touting how much they “love” renewable energy such as solar or wind power, please consider the most recent statistics about where these often large, profitable businesses actually source their power. Here in Florida the amount of renewable energy our power companies currently source to fill Florida’s energy needs is shockingly small. Here are the facts according to their own financial reports and government publications:

1. As of 2022, 93% of Florida’s power is from non-renewable energy.

2. 81% of the energy Florida utilities source is from fossil fuels including coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

3. Natural gas, a methane emitting fossil fuel that is 28 times more damaging than carbon dioxide, accounts for 75% of the energy Florida utilities source.

4. And, while I am sharing numbers, consider that solar power, in a place called “The Sunshine State,” accounts for a pathetic 6% of all of the power Florida utilities source.

Now consider this: the State’s three largest utilities, all for-profit, investor-owned, gigantic businesses (FP&L, Duke Energy, and TECO) respectively sourced the following amount of their power last year from sustainable, renewable energy such as wind, solar, and hydro:

1. FP&L was 5%,

2. Duke was 1.5% including both solar and hydro,

3. TECO was 7%.

Collectively these three investor-owned utilities account for 75% of the power sold in Florida and each firm has been in business for at or over 100 years. So, I ask you, if left to their own devices do we have any reason to truly believe these businesses will stop using the very fossil fuels that are causing our planet to warm, glaciers to melt, and seas to rise? Of course not. Not in any meaningful way or soon enough to help solve our global climate crisis. That’s why Florida has had climate-oriented energy policies in place since the early 2000’s or, for that matter, supported the petition that implemented Rule 50-5: Renewable Energy, which I helped lead in 2022 and that sure seems to have scared the utilities into the action that led to HB 1645.

What HB 1645 does is allow Florida’s utilities to continue the pollution without the rules, laws, or regulatory accountability needed to transition our state’s energy system from one based on fossil fuels to one based on sustainable energy. Like I said, anyone who supported it in any manner should be ashamed of how overtly they have sold our state (and I suppose themselves) to the utility industry.

As the article below from today’s Tampa Bay Times reports, DeSantis’ office touted the energy bill in a recent news release related to what they called “victories” from the recent legislative session under a section entitled “Stop the Woke” in which they expressed how pleased they were with themselves. I can only imagine how pleased the electric and gas utilities must be to know that our state government has, once again, picked them over taxpaying citizens and our fragile environment.

DeSantis’ office quietly backed ban on wind energy in Florida — onshore or off

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office quietly helped write a bill to curtail wind energy in the state of Florida, email records provided to the Tampa Bay Times show.

A version of that bill is now awaiting DeSantis’ signature to become law, which will ban offshore wind turbines in state waters. It also proposes to delete the majority of references to climate change found in state law, the Times previously reported.

Florida lawmakers passed the bills, Senate Bill 1624 and House Bill 1645, in early March, even though the state has no operational wind farms because Florida generally has slower wind speeds. Still, the ban on offshore turbines in state waters puzzled and frustrated opponents, who pointed to the fact that wind energy technology is rapidly improving and offshore wind energy could become more feasible in the near future. The bills’ sponsors, including Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, said if that happens, they’d repeal the ban.

While debate over the bill continued in the halls of the Legislature, DeSantis’ office weighed in via email. Cody Farrill, a deputy chief of staff in the governor’s office, sent wording related to the wind ban multiple times to Collins and his staff in late January and early February. Some of the emails include Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indialantic, who, along with Collins in the Senate, sponsored a standalone ban on wind energy. That bill received no hearings, which by February meant it was in danger of dying.

“As discussed with Rep. Altman and Senator Collins, this is the preferred alternative for” the bills banning wind energy, wrote Farrill in one email addressed to the two lawmakers. It included an attachment with proposed bill language that would prohibit “the construction, operation, or expansion of a wind energy facility or an offshore wind energy facility in this state.”

That ban on all wind energy in the state is more expansive than the offshore-specific language eventually passed by lawmakers. In mid-February, similar language curbing wind energy was tacked on to a larger energy omnibus bill that had momentum in the Legislature, and was eventually passed by lawmakers.

The emails were first reported by independent journalist Jason Garcia of the Seeking Rents newsletter. They were provided to the Tampa Bay Times by the Energy and Policy Institute, a utilities watchdog group, which obtained them through a public records request.

The governor’s office did not respond to emails asking about his staff’s involvement and why the governor was interested in banning wind energy. Collins and Altman did not respond to voicemails seeking comment. Neither did Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, who sponsored the House version of the energy omnibus bill.

It’s unclear whether the governor’s office authored the original language that appeared in the first version of the wind energy ban, filed in early January. The first email included in the records request showing Farrill suggesting language tweaks was from Jan. 30.

In some of the suggestions, the governor’s office focused on banning wind energy facilities near “critical infrastructure.” At one point, a draft borrowed language froma separate law that limits land purchases by residents of certain foreign adversaries — including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — near similar infrastructure.

“The close involvement of the governor’s office in the wind energy ban really seems to indicate that this is another DeSantis culture war in an attempt to win political points as opposed to addressing any serious issues that Floridians are actually concerned about,” said Alissa Jean Schafer, a research and communications manager at the Energy and Policy Institute. She said that the attempts to ban wind turbines near critical infrastructure could “lay a foundation for anti-renewables fear mongering.”

During the legislative session, rumors spread that DeSantis was backing the offshore wind ban. A Times/Herald reporter in late February asked Florida House Speaker Paul Renner whether it was something the governor wanted.

“I don’t know who wanted it,” Renner said at the time, adding that the prohibition made sense for the state. “It’s very similar to offshore drilling: Floridians don’t want to sit on the beach and look at oil derricks and they don’t want to sit on the beach and look at big windmills right off the beach.”

DeSantis’ office referenced the energy bill in a news release touting victories from the legislative session, under the section title of “Stopping the Woke.” The changes ensure “Florida’s energy policy focuses on the viability and availability of energy resources in the state, without subjecting the reliability of Florida’s grid to the pressures of the global Green New Deal regime,” his office wrote.

Other states, including Texas and those in the Midwest, have embraced wind as a clean source of energy. The power produced by the rotations of wind turbines helps the United States avoid 336 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to the federal government, reducing the pollution that contributes to climate change.

A 2021 report from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that most Americans — 77% — support expanding wind energy. But pollsters found that a wedge was starting to form, as backing among Republicans and conservative independents had dropped 13 percentage points just since the previous year. It was the widest partisan gap since Pew started asking about wind power in 2016.

Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau reporter Lawrence Mower contributed to this report. This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a multi-newsroom initiative founded by the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, WLRN Public Media and the Tampa Bay Times. This story was originally published March 28, 2024, 4:27 PM. Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/climate-change/article287178015.html#storylink=cpy

Young Floridians Helped Enact America’s Strongest Statewide Goals to Increase Renewable Energy From Electric Utilities to 100% by 2050. Is Governor DeSantis About To Destroy It?

I recently read an article about India’s Adani Green Energy Limited, a renewable power company that is investing $20 Billion to build a solar and wind plant called the Khavda Renewable Energy Park. The news caught my attention for two reasons related to Florida.

First, just that one project will provide enough clean energy to power 16 million households when complete and will take (just) five years to build. Florida, according to the most recent (2022) census data has about 8.3 million households, so the Khavda Renewable project stands to power twice the number of homes we have in our state.

Secondly, the Adani Group, a business owned by a relative of the owner of Adani Green, is India’s biggest coal importer and a significant miner of fossil fuels, the very products causing our climate crisis. Here in Florida utilities like FP&L, DUKE and TECO, three investor-owned businesses that distribute 75% of Florida’s electrical energy, source the majority of our state’s power from polluting fossil fuels. Interestingly (and sadly in a place called “The Sunshine State”), despite each of these Florida utilities being in business for 100 years or more they source a truly pathetic 5%, 1.5% and 7% of their power respectively from solar, wind, and/or hydro energy. And yet, in recent years Florida’s for-profit utilities have increasingly been advertising how much they “love” sustainable energy, how important it is to their businesses, and the vast sums of money they are investing in it. It seems that everywhere you look, whether it’s online, in print, and/or on television (heck even during the Super Bowl), Florida utilities are touting their enthusiastic “commitment” to clean sustainable energy. Yet, based on their own financial data (5%, 1.5% and 7%) those ads are misleading and simply not true.

Thankfully, hundreds of young people from all over Florida joined me in 2022 when I filed a Petition for Rulemaking and then navigated the legal process that led to our state creating what’s now known as Administrative Rule 50-5: Renewable Energy. At the time of its implementation, Rule 50-5 was celebrated as Florida’s most important step towards addressing our climate crisis in decades. The Rule provides formal targets that require Florida utilities to transition to sourcing 100% of the power they distribute from renewable energy by 2050. It also includes the regulatory accountability that was historically lacking and that had allowed the utilities to do pretty much whatever they wanted without regards to our environment or citizens’ concerns. And it requires Florida utilities to submit their 10-year energy plans to the state to evaluate whether the utilities long term energy plans are consistent with meeting the Rule’s renewable energy goals, and report annually to the state on the utilities’ progress in meeting the goals to the Florida Public Service Commission, the utilities’ direct regulator, the Governor, and Legislature.

Unfortunately, it appears that the utilities don’t like the idea of being held accountable, at least not when it comes to transitioning the power they source to renewables, and have had their friends in the Florida legislature help them attack the good work my young friends and I did in 2022. Sadly, during this year’s Florida Legislative session our state’s political “leaders” passed House Bill 1645 which takes direct aim at Rule 50-5, amongst other overtly utility friendly steps. House Bill 1645, for example, attacks efforts to shift Florida’s power from fossil fuels to sustainable solutions including eliminating phrases such as “climate change” and “greenhouse gases” within certain existing laws. Their proposed new law even effectively outlaws offshore wind energy around our state. To read this onerous new prospective law, click here.

House Bill 1645 would take Florida backwards into the energy dark ages and for this reason I am writing the Governor to ask him to veto this terrible prospective law and am humbled to be joined by many friends, family, and esteemed colleagues in signing the letter (thanks to each of you who responded so quickly for your care and support).

My letter to Governor DeSantis follows below. I hope you will consider joining me by emailing him (GovernorRon.DeSantis@eog.myflorida.com) to ask that he veto House Bill 1645 and share these concerns with your network of friends and family to ask them to email him too.

We can, I am certain, cost effectively transition Florida’s electrical utility system from one today that is almost entirely based on fossil fuels to one that’s 100% based on renewable energy, but this will never happen by enacting laws like House Bill 1645. Nor the transition happen without having a regulated plan with public goals along and the ongoing supervision needed to ensure compliance. Such transitions are happening all over the world and yet in Florida we are playing catch up by having relied on Florida’s utilities to “do the right thing” on their own for far too long until the arrival of Rule 50-5 Renewable Energy in 2022. By working together, we can shift The Sunshine State’s power system to clean renewable energy while leading America and the world beyond into our sustainable power future but today that transition should start with Governor DeSantis vetoing House Bill 1645.

Backward Part 2

My recent post, Backward, received a number of responses that expressed shock (and anger) that state lawmakers would be trying to remove phrases such as “climate change” from existing laws or seek to effectively outlaw sustainable wind energy, amongst other backwards steps to Florida’s energy policy. Many readers asked what they can do to voice their concerns about the proposed law (Senate Bill 1624 and House Bill 1645) and I am going to share a few suggestions with you in response in just a moment.

First, though, allow me to share a link to another recent article, in this case from the Tampa Bay Times, about the House of Representatives version of the Bill (HB1645) I wrote about a few days ago. The article further details some of the horrible steps that the proposed new law will take and even quotes it’s sponsor, Representative Bobby Payne from Palatka, Florida. Representative Payne shares his reasoning for sponsoring the bill by explaining the United States has spent billions on a climate change initiative and ideology that is unfitting for our country.” During Committee deliberations he also explained his perspective that our country would not be where it is today without fossil fuels.”

Interestingly, during that same Committee discussion, the article explained, that another Representative (and a member of the same political party as the bill’s sponsor), Randy Fine from Palm Bay, voted against the bill that day because part of the draft wording would limit Florida utilities’ ability to sell electricity to citizens who charge electric vehicles at their homes. Mr. Fine, the article notes, owns two electric cars and rightfully explained that such cars are the way of the future much less increasingly already popular today.

The article also quotes the Florida House Speaker, Paul Renner from Palm Coast, who makes it pretty darn clear that responding to the impacts of climate change, such as increased flooding, is his goal rather than addressing the core causes of the problem such as fossil fuel use. I don’t think you should interpret anything we’re doing about maybe an obsolete program or whatnot as a lack of commitment to anything that’s happening in the environment. To the contrary … we’re not backing away one bit from being a resilient state and taking whatever the climate sends us.” It sure would be nice if Florida’s leadership would take interest in proactively addressing the causes of our climate crisis rather than boasting about waiting for what the “climate sends us” all the while protecting the state’s politically connected utilities’ polluting ways over our environment and future generations wellbeing.

To express your concern (outrage), please contact your Senator and Representative and let your voice be heard. It only takes a few minutes online and my experience is that elected officials take their constituents comments seriously. Here are the quick/easy steps to take (please note that the folks in the photos below are examples from :

1. You will want to determine your specific voting district for both the Florida Senate and House. Information regarding your district can be found on your voter registration card, as well as online.

2. You can determine your designated elected official in the House of Representatives here: www.myfloridahouse.gov/FindYourRepresentative.

3. Click the “Full Detail” Button.

4. Click “Contact Member.”

5. Email Representative (it is here you can express your specific concern about these bills or anything else).

6.You can locate your Florida Senator (and US Senator and Representative) here: www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find.

7. You can email your Senator by selecting the “Email this Senator” button (it is here you can express your specific concern about these bills or anything else).

I’d also like to recommend reaching out to the current Speaker of the House, Paul Renner, and upcoming Speaker of the House, Daniel Perez. I have included their contact information below:

Paul Renner, 2022-2024 Speaker of the House
Capitol Phone: (850) 717-5019
Email: paul.Renner@myfloridahouse.gov
Capitol Address:
420 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

Daniel Perez, 2024-2028 Speaker of the House
Capitol Phone: (850) 717-5116
Email: daniel.perez@myfloridahouse.gov
Capitol Address:
422 The Capitol
402 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300

My last suggestion is to never, ever think that your voice and vote does not matter.

In our Democracy both matter. A lot.

Not only do I encourage you to share your concerns about these current Bills or anything else that’s on your mind but to please vote in every single election as if our futures depend on it (because it does). And ask all of your friends and family to vote too.

2024 is a critically important election year, perhaps the most important election in our lifetimes, so please vote. And when you vote please consider politicians who are committed to working on the core causes of our climate crisis including the elimination of fossil fuel use in addition to the other issues important to you.

Together, we can make a difference and move our country forward in ways that help our environment and future generations.

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