Florida energy bill threatens to rob future generations of healthy, habitable planet

By Alika Esperson, The CLEO Institute

As the clock ticks toward the end of Florida’s 60-day legislative session, a final vote is imminent on a dangerous energy bill, SB 1624.

Floridians must stand together to vehemently oppose this regressive legislation, which will set back efforts to reduce power bills and protect the air we breathe. This proposed omnibus bill, a conglomeration of smaller bills, carries within it the seeds of environmental degradation, economic disparity and a perilous disregard for our collective future.

This bill seeks to erase the mention of “climate change” from our legislative vocabulary – a move that reeks of ignorance and short-sightedness at best. The deliberate effort to strip the term climate change from Florida law speaks volumes about those pushing to give a blank check to the fossil gas industry. At a time when the need for urgent action to address climate change couldn’t be clearer, our elected officials are shamefully attempting to sweep the issue under the rug, as if to deny reality.

Flooding in Florida from Hurricane Ian (iStock image)Flooding in Florida from Hurricane Ian (iStock image)

However, the dangers posed by SB 1624 extend far beyond mere semantics. This bill would ban offshore wind power within a mile of the shoreline, slamming shut the door on potential opportunities for job creation and economic growth in this burgeoning clean energy sector.

As someone deeply invested in this crucial issue, I see firsthand the transformative potential of renewable energy initiatives. To squander such opportunities in favor of archaic, polluting energy sources is not just shortsighted – it’s downright reckless considering how I always hear that we are the free state of Florida, where there are endless opportunities, and given the impacts of a warming climate that we are seeing with extreme heat, hurricanes, sea-level rise and flooding.

Simply put, this bill places an undue burden on ratepayers already suffering with skyrocketing power bills while further lining the pockets of utility companies. It’s a classic case of prioritizing corporate interests over the well-being of ordinary citizens.

As a young climate activist working with the CLEO Institute, I witness the disproportionate impact of such policies on vulnerable communities firsthand. We cannot stand idly by as profit-driven agendas trample over the basic needs of people, especially in the face of inflation driving myself and my peers to reevaluate how they can afford basic necessities.

Alika Esperson
                   Alika Esperson

Most egregiously, SB 1624 threatens to rob future generations of a healthy and habitable planet. Our youth deserve better than a future marred by environmental degradation and climate chaos so that companies selling a harmful product can profit at the expense of the rest of us. We are stewards of the planet for the next generation, we owe it to them to take decisive action to safeguard their future. This bill represents a stark betrayal of that responsibility.

As Floridians, we must raise our voices and demand better from our elected officials. We cannot afford to let this bill that would allow more climate pollution become law. We must urge our representatives to vote no on this disastrous piece of legislation. Our future – and the future of generations to come – hangs in the balance.

In the face of daunting challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless. But history has shown time and again that real change happens when ordinary people come together to demand it. Let us rise to the occasion and send a clear message to our lawmakers: The people of Florida will not stand for policies that jeopardize our planet and our future.

The time to act is now. Join me in urging our elected officials to stop the climate pollution overheating our world. Together, we can stop SB 1624 and pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for all Floridians.

Alika Esperson is the advocacy and campaigns associate with the CLEO Institute and a passionate climate activist committed to building youth power.

If you are interested in submitting an opinion piece to The Invading Sea, email Editor Nathan Crabbe at ncrabbe@fau.edu. Sign up for The Invading Sea newsletter by visiting here.

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