Fossil fuel forever bills in Georgia and Florida legislatures

Do these bills sound just as bad? You can help stop them, including in a committee meeting this morning.

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Title 46 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to public utilities and public transportation, so as to prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policy that prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service based upon the type or source of energy or fuel; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes. —GA SB 102

Mirrored across the GA-FL line:

Preemption on Restriction of Utility Services; Prohibiting municipalities, counties, special districts, or other political subdivisions from enacting or enforcing provisions or taking actions that restrict or prohibit the types or fuel sources of energy production which may be used, delivered, converted, or supplied to customers by specified entities; providing for preemption; providing for retroactive application, etc. —FL SB 1128

The words have been stirred, but the bills are essentially the same. Except the Florida bill goes for full unconstitutional ex post facto law with “providing for retroactive application”.

This stuff stinks of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange, the private shadow government in which industry representatives and state legislators vote together on model bills that the state reps take back and try to pass. If they succeed, they become ALEC alumnae. ALEC or not, they’re bad bills that should not pass.

GA SB 102 has already been voted out of committee in the Georgia Senate, and its equivalent already passed the Georgia House.

FL SB 1128 is scheduled this morning at 9AM, March 16, 2021, for its second committee, Community Affairs, 03/16/21, 9:00 am, 37 Senate Building.

In the same committee meeting this morning is another of these:

State Preemption of Transportation Energy Infrastructure Regulations; Preempting the regulation of transportation energy infrastructure to the state; prohibiting a local government from taking specified actions relating to the regulation of transportation energy infrastructure, etc. —SB 856: State Preemption of Transportation Energy Infrastructure Regulations

Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Sabal Trail pipeline drilling at night 2016-12-02
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Sabal Trail pipeline drill site near Withlacoochee River in Georgia 2016-12-02.

The Florida bills seems to have inadvertently missed listing Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), possibly because their authors thought “petroleum products” covered that (it doesn’t). Not to worry: “but is not limited to.”

Also, this is not just about directly passing an ordinance against fossil fuels, which most local governments already knew wouldn’t work. SB 856 would create Florida Statutes Section 377.707, with (1)(b):

Amending its comprehensive plan, land use map, zoning districts, or land development regulations in a manner that would conflict with an existing transportation energy infrastructure classification as a permitted and allowable use, including, but not limited to, an amendment that causes an existing transportation energy infrastructure to be a nonconforming use, structure, or development.

The Florida House equivalent of SB 856 is HB 839, which will next be heard in Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.

Floridians and Georgians, please ask your statehouse members to vote against these bills.

Lest anyone say these bills are just about not picking winners, see also SB 630 in the same committee meeting this morning: “providing requirements for natural gas fuel stations on property governed by condominium associations”.

All these bills are about trying to salvage the dying fossil fuel industry, which is rapidly going the way of horse buggies and whale oil lamps. Let it go.

FPL and JEA are pulling out of Coal Plant Scherer Unit 4, north of Macon, Georgia, the same that sends mercury through the air into the Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers. JEA instead is buying more “natural gas” fracked methane from FPL, “with an option to switch to solar energy for the last ten years.” So even JEA and FPL know solar will win in the end. Help make them go solar now, and quit their nasty fossil fuel habit.

Since founding, WWALS has stood for solar power and against fossil fuel pipelines. Clean solar, wind, and storage power mean less mercury through the air into our rives, less coal ash running off into them, and less water wasted on thermal power plant cooling, plus less carbon dioxide and methane cooking the planet.

A long list of local governments passed resolutions and other actions against the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline. All those or anything like them would be invalidated by these bills.

Whenever landowners got a jury trial against Sabal Trail, the pipeline company lost. These bills are a last-ditch attempt to salvage what the fossil fuel companies can’t win without them.

Please help stop these bad bills.

Here’s how to find your legislator by ZIP code or your current location:

Also here are handy maps and lists of Georgia state Senators and Florida state Senators.

You could say something like this: “Hello, I’m in your district. Our local governments know local conditions better than the state legislature. Please vote to stop pre-emption of local control….”

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!