State lawmakers look to preempt energy regulation

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Late last year, a Tampa city councilman dropped plans for a resolution banning new gas stations after the year 2030, but the decision hasn’t stopped state lawmakers from moving legislation that would prohibit any local government in the state from banning any energy choice.

Climate activists believe that banning new gas stations will speed up the move to electric cars, but state lawmakers are having no part of it.

“What’s currently in place, you can’t change,” said State Senator Travis Hutson. “Local governments can continue their to appropriately site gas stations in their jurisdiction so long as the activity does not have the effect of prohibition.”

Two bills approved Tuesday morning stop local governments in their tracks.

The first says they can’t ban energy choices outside your home, like gas stations. The second prohibits bans on energy choices inside your house, like natural gas.

“This bill undermines the power of Floridians. Floridians are problem solvers,” said Ida Eskamani with Florida Rising.

Environmentalists argued the legislation is limiting, not increasing consumer choices.

“We have to cut back on fossil fuels. If we don’t, getting to one percent renewable energy will be one hundred percent impossible,” said Dave Cullen with the Sierra Club.

Both were approved along near-party lines.

State Senator Janet Cruz split her vote on the bills, but doesn’t really like either.

“I’ve never happy with anything that preempts local government. I’m a little sick and tired of it actually,” said Cruz.

Hutson, who is sponsoring both bills, said the original ban proposed in Tampa is what got his attention.

“The Tampa one was more of the eye-opening one because that is a large city that could make some major implications when it comes to tourism, right. People that are coming in not knowing the rules,” said Hutson.

The measure would also not allow counties to restrict gas supplies arriving at local ports.

Originally, the legislation would have erased anti-fracking ordinances in 13 counties, but objections forced it out of the bill.

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