A pair of bills have been filed in the Florida legislature that would mandate the state transition to renewable energy in the next thirty years. This is the first time such a requirement has come before state lawmakers.
The bills were filed by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando; and state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami. They would direct the state's Office of Energy to create a plan to generate all of Florida's energy from renewable sources by 2050.
Environmentalists are cautiously optimistic that the bills will gain traction this session, says Jennifer Rubiello of St. Petersburg. She's state Director of the advocacy group Environment Florida.
"Now is the time, given that Florida faces enormous environmental challenges, our state absolutely needs solutions that are going to match the scale of those challenges. And so we need to be talking about how we are going to transition our state off of fossil fuels and toward renewable sources," she said.
And with climate change and rising sea levels possibly affecting Florida before many other states, she says we can't afford to wait.
"Burning gas, oil and coal has polluted our air and water for decades, and now we're seeing that it's changing our climate even faster than most scientists feared it would," she said. "And we know that we can have healthier communities right now, and a livable future for generations to come, but to get there we actually need to transform the way that we both produce and consume energy."
Rubiello notes that seven Florida cities, including St. Petersburg, have already committed to shifting to renewable energy.