Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sierra Club Florida Unveils 2016 Legislative Platform

Sierra Club Florida has unveiled its 2016 Legislative Platform.  The document is an important resource for groups and volunteers to use in their visits with legislators when explaining where Sierra Club Florida stands on issues. The full document can be seen and downloaded here. Your legislators will be in the district from December 5 through the first week of January.  Make your appointments now!

Changes in the 2016 Platform

Changes in the 2016 Platform include urging that the intent of the voters who voted for Amendment 1 be faithfully implemented, support for completing the Florida Trail, appropriate regulation of the disposal of cigarette waste on our beaches, and revamping the Clean Energy section to include references to the state’s statutory energy goals in § 187.201 F.S.

Florida shall reduce its energy requirements through enhanced conservation and efficiency measures in all end-use sectors and shall reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by promoting an increased use of renewable energy resources and low-carbon-emitting electric power plants.”

Clean Energy

Sierra continues to advocate strongly for a comprehensive transition to a clean energy economy that abandons fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources and the implementation of energy efficiency.

The platform forms the foundation for our lobbying in opposition to the anti-Clean Power Plan bills filed by Sen. Evers (SB 838) and Rep. Manny Diaz (HB 639) Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Existing Stationary Sources which would prohibit Florida from submitting a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the Environmental Protection Agency or acceding to any rules to reduce CO2 required under the CPP until either Congress specifically enacts the provisions or a federal court issues a final judgment stating the rules are legal.

It is also the basis for our support of a proposed Constitutional amendment and a linked implementing bill to extend the current exemption from ad valorem taxation for residential properties to non-residential properties as well (SJR 170 and SB 172 by Sen. Brandes and HJR 193 and HB 195 by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, Renewable Energy Source Device.)   The passage of the implementing bill means the exemption from real estate taxes on the value of solar panels would go into effect immediately on the adoption of the constitutional amendment by the voters instead of having to wait for the legislature to pass an implementing bill as happened with the residential exemption which was adopted by the voters in 2008 but not implemented until 2013.

Anti-Fracking 

The new platform also adds ‘acid fracturing’ and ‘acid matrix stimulations’ to fracking as procedures the Club supports banning.  The Club supports HB 19 by Rep. Jenne and SB 166 by Sen. Soto which call for a statutory ban on all fracking techniques in Florida.  We also support SJR 358 by Sen. Ring and HJR 453 by Rep. Javier Rodriguez that propose a Constitutional amendment to ban the practice.  Finally, we support Sen. Sobel’s Senate resolution expressing the support of the Florida Senate for a state ban on fracking.

The Club opposes this year’s HB 191 by Rep. Ray Rodrigues and SB 318 by Sen. Richter which exclude acid treatments from the definition of “high-pressure well stimulation” and thereby exclude them from any new regulation under the bill even though they are the treatments most likely to be used in Florida’s limestone and dolomite geology.  Worse, 191 and 318 preempt local control of all well stimulation treatments (including acidization - as well as anything to do with oil and gas development) and will prevent cities and counties from protecting their residents from the injection of toxic chemicals into the ground beneath their feet.)  The bills also provide that the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (Chapter 688 F.S.) will apply to any disclosure of the chemicals used to prevent citizens from finding out exactly what chemicals they and their families may be exposed to.

Electric Vehicles

This year’s platform also emphasizes issues surrounding Electric Vehicles that we hope to have legislative success with this session: enforcement of civil penalties for non-electric vehicles that park in EV charging stations, sales tax exemption for plug-in EVs, EV charging stations at multi-unit dwellings, rapid charging stations across Florida’s public roads, and increasing statewide electric vehicle fleets.

Sen. Soto has filed SB 364, which the Sierra Club and Drive Electric Florida has worked with the senator to amend. The bill will provide a sales tax exemption for the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen cars, capped at the first $40,000 of the sales price of each vehicle. The bill defines plug-in electric vehicles to include both electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S, as well as extended range electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt. The Sierra Club supports this good bill.

We continue to support a ban on plastic bags such as Sen. Bullard’s SB 306 and Rep. Richardson’s HB 143 that would permit a pilot program allowing coastal communities with a population of fewer than 100,000 to regulate or ban disposable bags.  The bills provide that the localities must collect data on the results of the regulation or ban and report to DEP.

To read the full Sierra Club 2016 Legislative Platform, click here.

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