It is commonplace for stalemates to keep policymakers from getting important things done. That is why, when it comes to crucial issues like energy policy, state legislators often need to step up to protect their states and send the federal government a message. The Florida legislature is doing just that.
Last year, President Obama directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to begin a rulemaking process for limits on carbon emissions for new and modified power plants. The agenda behind this directive has never been a secret. The Obama administration wants to use the EPA to create rules that force the closure of coal-fired generation.
The reality is that EPA’s new rule creates an emissions threshold under which natural gas plants can operate, but coal-fired plants cannot. Now EPA has turned its sights toward existing coal-fired plants. As a result, hundreds of coal plants have already closed, thousands of jobs have been lost, and the future reliability of the electricity grid remains very much in question.
A memorial, known as a resolution in many states, is currently moving through the Florida House that would declare EPA’s carbon regulations a threat to the affordability and reliability of electricity in Florida. The measure, titled HB 1027, would also urge Congress to provide flexibility to Florida in reducing carbon emissions. Its sponsor, Rep. John Wood (R-Winter Haven) said, “God gave us this resource. Until we have better technology at some point in the future we need to use it to keep our economy going.”
So far, the memorial has passed through two committee stops and has one remaining before it would be sent to the floor for a vote. The Florida Senate has introduced a similar memorial, SB 1174, that passed through its first committee stop with a 9-0 vote.
Although the votes on the Florida memorials have been mainly along party lines, two Democratic legislators have broken ranks and supported them. It is expected that more will follow as legislators consider the costs to consumers in their districts if EPA regulations continue. We certainly hope they will, as bipartisan action on this important issue is a key solution to gaining an outcome that consumers can live with.
The Florida Legislature is sending an important message to Washington, DC. They’re telling federal policy makers to slow down and consider the consequences of far-reaching energy regulations. It’s time for consumers in Florida – and in all states – to get behind that message and tell their lawmakers that reliable and affordable power are worth fighting for.