By State Sen. Jason Brodeur
More so than perhaps any other state, Florida is vulnerable to the impacts of our changing climate and increasingly severe weather events. That’s why Republicans in Florida are leading on climate and resiliency issues.
With the right policies in place, we can preserve our state’s beautiful natural areas, protect the private property of individuals and businesses, and strengthen economic opportunities across the Sunshine State. Legislators in Washington, D.C., should take note.
Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Florida passed the largest climate resiliency package in our state’s history — and one of the most far-reaching, ambitious packages in the country this year.
Congress should take note as they debate resiliency funding in the infrastructure package: In the Florida Legislature, we worked across the aisle to get that job done. The governor’s $500 million resilient Florida plan — the heart of this initiative — earned broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature on its way to his desk for signature into law.
The Legislature also approved a number of other climate-friendly conservation measures, two of which I was proud to sponsor. The first will protect critical wildlife corridors and natural areas across the state. The second dedicates funding to capturing and cleaning nutrient-heavy water before it flows into Lake Okeechobee, reducing the nutrients that feed algae blooms in the lake and on either coast while also recharging the Florida aquifer.
It just makes economic sense to protect our natural resources and abundant recreational opportunities. That is, after all, our chief asset and one of the biggest draws of tourism to the state.
However, resiliency efforts go much further than that. They help protect the private property of Florida homeowners and businesses from the increased severity of storms, hurricanes, flooding, and other extreme weather emergencies. Ultimately, increasing Florida’s climate resiliency also helps lower the cost of doing business in the state by lessening the impact of these events and reducing their associated insurance costs.
Complementing these resiliency efforts, Florida Republicans are also offering bold, market-driven, and conservative solutions to accelerate the adoption and deployment of clean energy across the state. If we are going to lead on the issues of climate and resiliency, then that will require increased investments in expanding clean energy and making it more accessible for more Florida homes and businesses.
In particular, I was proud to sponsor legislation recently signed into law that reduces red tape for solar permitting throughout the state. That legislation, SB 896, will facilitate the adoption of solar power in Florida’s agricultural community. Prior to its passage, many Florida farmers who were interested in using parts of their land to generate solar energy found the permitting process to be too cumbersome to navigate.
Through SB 896, we streamlined the process to allow properties that are zoned for agriculture to be automatically permitted for solar generation. Much like recent efforts by Sen. Marco Rubio — who co-sponsored the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the U.S. Senate — passage of this renewable energy expansion legislation will allow farmers to be part of the climate solution in a pro-growth, economically advantageous way.
In the state Senate, we also passed legislation that would open markets for biogas. Florida is already a leader in production of this emerging, innovative energy resource. Now, passage of this legislation into law will help make biogas much more competitive with other energy sources, giving Florida another natural, clean energy tool for our toolbox.
As we have been doing for years, Florida Republicans will continue to lead the way on climate resiliency and smart clean energy production in the 2022 legislative session and beyond. Washington should follow the example state lawmakers are setting and work with their colleagues on both sides to advance common sense clean energy and climate solutions that will help make our state more resilient and prepare us for the future, whatever it may hold.
State Sen. Jason Brodeur, a Republican, represents District 9 in the Florida Senate, where he chairs the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
“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.