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Climate change is impacting so much around us: heat, flooding, health, wildlife, housing, and more. WUSF, in collaboration with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, is bringing you stories on how climate change is affecting you.

Florida Lawmakers Want Greenhouse Gas Emissions To Be Regulated

woman speaking at a podium
The Florida Channel
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Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried supports SB 1362 and HB 993, which seek to lower the state's carbon emissions.

Legislation filed in Tallahassee aims to reduce greenhouse gases in Florida 55% by 2030, 90% by 2045, and 100% by 2050.

Measures in the Florida House and Senate would create rules over and require inventories of greenhouse gas emissions. State lawmakers, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, and a rancher held a joint press conference to highlight the bills on Wednesday.

The state Senate bill would require the Office of Energy, in consultation with certain state entities and officers, to develop rules that meet certain requirements for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Florida Senator Tina Polsky speaking at a podium in Tallahassee.
The Florida Channel
Florida Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, speaking at a press conference about her Senate Bill 1362 to regulate carbon emissions in an effort to reduce them.

It would also direct the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in coordination with the Department of Management Services and the Department of Environmental Protection, to develop and maintain a greenhouse gas registry and inventory.

Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, sponsors the measure. She said, under her legislation, there will be emission reporting deadlines for entities that receive state funding.

"January 2022 for all state governments. January 2024 for all local governments, universities and colleges. January 2025 for all electric utilities, natural gas utilities, and large businesses which operate over 1,000 vehicles or have over 500,000 square feet of space," said Polsky.

Rep. Kelly Skidmore speaking at a podium in Tallahassee.
The Florida Channel
Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, speaking about her House Bill 993 to create a pilot program for agriculturalists to combat climate change through carbon sequestration.

Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, has a companion bill in the state House that would create a Resilient Farms Pilot Program for farmers to trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through planting, and retain that carbon in the soil by not tilling the land.

RELATED: 'Carbon Farming' Could Soon Be New Cash Crop For Florida Growers

"It aims to promote resilient land management, to promote soil health, maximize carbon capture, and reduce farm emissions," said Skidmore.

Jim Strickland, a Myakka City cattle rancher and co-chair of the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Work Group, voiced his support of the legislation at the press conference.

“We are at ground zero,” he said. “We right now are looking at carbon, we're looking at carbon sequestration.”

Jim Strickland sporting a cowboy hat and speaking at a podium in Tallahassee.
The Florida Channel
Jim Strickland, a cattle rancher with the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Work Group, said he supports SB 1362 and HB 993.

Strickland also spoke about a couple of climate-conscious agriculture developments on his radar: one, using probiotics to see if that accelerates the carbon sequestration percentages. And two, a project regarding methane, of which he did not elaborate.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried backs these state measures and said that they go along with the efforts of the White House to combat climate change.

RELATED: The Science Behind 'Carbon Farming' To Combat Global Warming

The Biden administration has also been talking about paying farmers to sequester carbon, and Fried has sent a proposal to the president requesting a public-private partnership.

"This is a great opportunity to really advance energy and climate and water and carbon solutions. The administration understands the climate crisis, and we will continue to be working with the administration on some of these issues," said Fried.

“Together in our collaborative effort between our state and our local communities and our federal partnership and our private partnerships, we know that we can keep Florida growing.”

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