Chip LaMarca, Florida State Representative
Floridians saw another active hurricane season this year. We are no strangers to the effects of hurricanes, but extreme weather, coastal erosion and sea-level rise all threaten the lives and property of Floridians.
We are uniquely vulnerable to climate-related damage and have seen the effects evolve more quickly here than in most parts of the country. Policymakers need to focus their attention on this issue in a bipartisan and holistic manner.
As a former Lighthouse Point City Commissioner, former Broward County Commissioner and now State Representative for the 93rd district, I’ve spent my career focused on many of these issues. Protecting our beaches has always been a top priority.
That’s why I have consistently opposed offshore drilling that would threaten our coastline. This was also the driving force behind my signature legislation in my first session. “Coastal Management” passed unanimously in 2019 and allows Florida beaches to be renourished in a timely manner with a dedicated, recurring $50 million funding source.
I was also an early member of the American Flood Coalition and work to help ensure that our coastal communities are more resilient to flooding and extreme weather.
I have also supported clean energy technologies, like solar power. They are critical because they curb the long-term effects of climate change in Florida.
The good news is that progress is being made. Working across the aisle, policymakers have advanced important initiatives on this front over the past year. Gov. Ron DeSantis has shown new leadership by making the environment a priority.
He appointed Florida’s first Chief Resilience Officer, dedicating resources to the significant challenges for our coastal communities. And earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus and has been a champion of climate issues in Washington. Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls has made climate change one of the pillars of his agenda.
We are finally seeing climate issues and our environment take center stage in Florida.
All of these actions are proof positive that we are capable of having a strong and growing economy while protecting our environment and our coastline for future generations.
In fact, doing it the right way is good for business. Not only does it protect our tourism industry but also grows high-paying clean energy jobs.
When we focus on slowing the effects of climate change, we become a more resilient state. When we make climate change and our environment a priority, we reduce the climate risk level of our state. That means more businesses will want to plant roots here and we should see more affordable property insurance rates.
Within my district, the clean energy sector is a major employer, from solar installation contractors to research in renewable energy for transportation. As we continue to move from economic recovery to revival, it’s critical that we bring back these jobs. Working with our Congressional delegation and building on Sen. Rubio’s relief efforts, we have the opportunity to do just that.
Opposing offshore drilling is vital. Supporting the clean energy jobs is important. Hardening our infrastructure to better cope with flooding and extreme weather is critical.
Doing all these things and more in a comprehensive and holistic manner is the key to mitigating the impacts of climate change and ensuring that our local economy flourishes. With bipartisan leadership, our state can lead the country on these important conversations.
Unfortunately, we must. Because whether we like it or not, the damage will arrive here first.
Rep. Chip LaMarca is a Florida legislator representing coastal Broward County. He is a member of the American Flood Coalition and sits on the Florida House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.