Some Florida Republicans seem to think not mentioning climate change will make it go away

Although House Bill 1645, which is now working its way through the Florida Legislature, would establish changes to state energy policy, it would also remove most references to climate change in state law. The bill cleared the state House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Thursday, though a few members of both parties opposed it.

While some references would remain, the bill—sponsored by Republican Rep. Bobby Payne of Palatka—would repeal sections of the law that mention climate change. These include a program that provides grants to local governments and school districts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would also cut back on regulations of natural gas pipelines, and forbid local governments from controlling the location of natural gas storage facilities, and no longer require state agencies or local governments to take into account fuel efficiency when buying vehicles.

Emily L. Mahoney at the Tampa Bay Times focuses on one example of the alterations:

“The Legislature finds that … the impacts of global climate change can be reduced through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” the existing law reads, in part. “The Legislature further finds that the state is positioned at the front line against potential impacts of global climate change.”

The bill would replace those sentences with a shorter statement of purpose, focusing on “an adequate, reliable, and cost-effective supply of energy for the state in a manner that promotes the health and welfare of the public and economic growth.”

“It does send a statement that even though we are seeing the impacts of climate change increasing every year in the state — more people being impacted by stronger hurricanes, we’re seeing sea-level rise, we’re seeing hotter summers — that we don’t think that is something we should be thinking about in Florida,” said Bradley Marshall, a Tallahassee senior attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental law group.

When it comes to climate change, the science deniers—the plutocrats, politicians, propagandists, and fossil-fuel proprietors who have lied for decades about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions—have been the main target of criticism by green pundits and environmental advocates. And understandably so. For decades, the deniers did such a bang-up job of convincing many Americans that climate change isn’t happening, that it is a hoax, that it is just a way for scientists to get government grants, that only God can change the climate, and that environmentalists are like watermelons, green on the outside but red on the inside—that is to say, secret communists.

Most deniers have retreated from the kind of move being proposed in HB 1645. They concede now that climate change is happening. But they do so voicing the truism that the climate is always changing and nothing is different about that today. This, of course, is itself a rejection of climate science, which is showing that current changes are happening faster than scientists expected, and faster than has been the case in the past. 

But these people aren’t the only obstacle blockading serious action. So are the delayers. And delay is just another form of denial.

These delayers include a bunch of politicians and corporate leaders who say they accept the global warming verdict of the vast majority of climate scientists but drag their feet when it comes to supporting actual policies—not to mention initiating policies—that address climate change in an aggressive way. While all kinds of excuses are given for why we should tip-toe slowly in dealing with climate policies, their willingness to delay suggests these people don’t really believe the scientists. Or maybe they do, but they’re worried it will cost them their jobs and corporate donations if they back policies pushing for rapid changes in how we heat and cool ourselves, how we produce our food, how we transport everything, and how we make electricity.

What should get them fired is if they don’t support such policies.

While President Joe Biden’s administration has a mixed record on the climate front, it can rightly claim to have done more than any previous administration to address our predicament. Not yet fast enough, not yet deep enough, but mostly moving in the right direction, and with the promise that a second Biden term—with majorities in both houses of Congress—could mean a much stronger approach, like say, passing and implementing the Green New Deal.

On the other side is a guy who, with his sycophants in Congress, has a goal, as Scott Waldman at Climate Wire reports: 

Former President Donald Trump’s second term could begin with a clear direction on climate policy: Trash it.

Dozens of conservative organizations have banded together to provide Trump a road map — known as Project 2025 — if he prevails in November. It outlines a series of steps that the former president could take to reverse the climate actions taken by the Biden administration.

Trump has already said that boosting fossil fuels would be one of his top priorities. A proposed executive order in Project 2025 offers him a path for that goal, laying out a total restructuring of the U.S. Global Change Research Program to diminish its role across more than a dozen federal agencies.

Not exactly a surprise HB 1645 with federal teeth. And, of course, that would just be the beginning. Given Trump’s attitude about protesters, environmental activists who are already under law enforcement scrutiny for their dissent could wind up in camps similar to those for undocumented immigrants that the former White House occupant is eager to establish. That assumes Trump won’t by then be detained somewhere himself.


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