Climate Change Bill is One Signature Away From Becoming Law

On the closing days of the Florida’s legislative session, the legislature sent over SB 1940 to Governor DeSantis. He is expected to sign the bill within the next few days. This bill does six things. Most notably, it officially establishes the Statewide Office of Resilience. It also calls for the appointment of a Chief Resilience Officer, requires the Department of transportation to develop a resilience plan for the state highway system, revises the projects which the Department of Environmental Protection may fund, extends the dates by which the department must complete a comprehensive flood vulnerability assessment, and requires the state to provide tidal and storm surge flooding data to counties and municipalities for assessment.

Currently there is a $100 million cap on funding for sea level rise mitigation. This bill sets the minimum allowable spending level to $100 million under the Resilient Florida Grant Program. The bill also creates a central state database of core infrastructure buildings which are at direct risk of rising sea levels. Also included in the bill is a systemic review of the department’s policies, procedures, and guidance documents to identify revisions that will facilitate cost-effective improvements. A deadline of June 20, 2023 was set for the submission of the final version of the resilience action plan to the governor and the legislature.

In 2019 Gov. DeSantis called for the establishment of the Office of Resiliency and Coastal Protection within the Department of Environmental Protection, with the explicit function of protecting roads from flooding.

Critics of the bill claim that the legislature deliberately left out the ability of the state to research the root causes of climate change. These critics also claim that by excluding the possibility of looking into the causes, the problems will not get fixed. This position is a double-edged sword, because looking into the root causes might usher in industry-crushing regulations. The sponsor of the bill- State Rep. Busatta Cabrera- said this would invite “toxic politics” into the conversation. Ultimately, supporters of the bill are happy that action will be taken to mitigate the risks caused by sea level rise and reduce the amount of damage caused by flooding.