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Fri Mar 13, 2020, 05:14 PM

FL GOP Bill Means "Considering" SLR For Some Buildings; Replace Chief Resilience Officer? Unknown

For the first time in a decade, Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature has passed a bill that explicitly acknowledges climate change’s threats to the state and aims to limit at least some impacts. If Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, signs it into law, it would require state-financed buildings on the coast to take sea level rise into account before starting construction, a meaningful prospect in a state where more than three-quarters of its population live near the coast.


Even a bill that would have made a permanent office for the governor’s signature climate change position, the chief resilience officer, faltered in the final days of the 2020 session. It did not help win support that the first person to ever hold the position in Florida, Julia Nesheiwat, left after six months for a job in the Trump administration. DeSantis has since signaled he isn’t sure if he’s going to replace her.

Still, in the most vulnerable state in the nation to the effects of sea level rise, a single bill addressing the impacts of climate change is a big deal after what advocates call a “lost decade” on climate action. But it barely scrapes the surface of the work the state has to do to keep its residents — and property values — afloat.

“Inaction for 30 years and hostility for the last decade means, frankly, anything more than sitting on your hands is an improvement,” Rodríguez said. “The bar is so incredibly low. Just speaking about climate is an improvement, and that cannot be the bar that we use.”



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