The St. Petersburg City Council passed an ordinance this evening that will significantly reduce the use of single-use plastic straws and expanded polystyrene (commonly referred to as Styrofoam) in the city. [Read more…] about St. Petersburg City Council votes to eliminate harmful single-use plastic straws, place restrictions on plastic foam
Record-breaking red tide, blue-green algae, and hurricanes
have citizens demanding action on climate change in Florida.
Florida Conservation Voters and Environment Florida today delivered a letter with more than 3,000 signatures to Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis about the importance of addressing climate change when he assumes the office of Governor in January. A copy of the letter can be found here. [Read more…] about More than 3,000 Florida Citizens Demand Climate Action from Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis
Despite the lack of Federal and State action on climate, cities and counties
are investing in clean energy solutions to protect their communities
In early December, world leaders will meet in Katowice, Poland for the 24th COP meeting and the Katowice Climate Change Conference – a follow-up to Kyoto and Paris. While the Administration may be rolling back federal standards to combat climate change, local governments and businesses throughout Florida are embracing clean energy solutions to climate change. [Read more…] about Local Leaders Rise Up to Fill Climate Action Void
Environment Florida, which is a citizen-based environmental advocacy project of Environment America, announced today its endorsement of Bill Nelson for Senate. [Read more…] about Environment Florida Endorses Bill Nelson for Senate
The Trump administration today announced new vehicle emission guidelines which roll back the existing Clean Car Standards. This regressive move will get rid of our nation’s best climate change mitigation program, which is cutting future carbon emissions more effectively than any other current federal policy. [Read more…] about Environment Florida laments feds’ decision to repeal Clean Car Standards
President Donald Trump announced today via Twitter that he has accepted the resignation of embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
In response, Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida released this statement: [Read more…] about Environment Florida statement on the resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
The City of Tallahassee is highlighted as a leading “Solar Star” in a new report, landing it among the nation’s leading cities for installing clean energy from the sun.
“Cities like Tallahassee are leading the way to a future powered by clean, renewable energy,” said Jennifer Rubiello, director of Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. “By tapping into more of our vast solar energy potential, we can benefit from cleaner air and fight climate change.”
Tallahassee ranked ahead of the 4 other Florida cities in the report, including Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, and Miami, for megawatts of solar energy per capita as of year-end 2017. Tallahassee’s rank is due in large part to the 28 MW solar farm contracted by the city. Through the Tallahassee Solar program, residents and businesses were allowed to enroll to purchase their electricity from the solar farm at a fixed rate for the next 20 years. The 2,000 slots for this program filled up so quickly that the city is continuing it for another solar farm it plans to build.
“Tallahassee stands out as an example for other cities to follow in Florida and throughout the South. The city is listening to local customers like me who want solar energy in their homes and their communities, and it’s giving different types of solar room to grow,” said Scott Thomasson, southeast director with Vote Solar.
The report, Shining Cities 2018: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America, shows that the top 20 solar cities, comprising just 0.1 percent of the country’s land mass, account for 4 percent of U.S. solar capacity.
“We are in a moment when progress on renewable energy will come from cities across the country,” said Rubiello. “More local leaders should step up and start plugging their communities into the clean and virtually limitless power of the sun.”
Last month, mayors from 18 cities in Florida from Tallahassee to Naples signed onto a bipartisan letter of 180 mayors across the U.S. resolving to make solar power a key element of their communities’ energy plans and calling on others to embrace clean energy from the sun.
Shining Cities is the fifth annual report from Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. Each year, the survey ranks nearly 70 of the nation’s major cities by megawatts of solar energy. This year, the report also ranks state capitols and smaller cities that are going big on solar energy.
Environment Florida Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting Florida’s air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help people make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
First-of-its-kind policy analysis of best practices from across U.S. and globally
With electric vehicles (EVs) hitting U.S. streets in record numbers, a new study by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group highlights best practices to help local officials make their cities as EV-friendly as possible. The new report, “Plugging In: Readying America’s Cities for the Arrival of Electric Vehicles,” includes local and state data for Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville about the projected number of electric cars expected on the road in coming years, and how cities can accommodate these new EVs with enough places to park and recharge.
“More and more Floridians are plugging into electric cars and leaving gas-guzzlers behind,” stated Jennifer Rubiello of Environment Florida Research & Policy Center. “We have an opportunity to make a positive change after more than a century of vehicles spewing pollutants into the air. Local and state officials who want to plug into this opportunity need to commit to an EV-friendly infrastructure as smooth and fast as possible.”
In particular, the report calls on local officials to implement the following EV-friendly policies:
• Residential access to on-street EV charging
• Access to public charging stations
• Support for private investment in publicly-accessible stations
• Incentivized EV parking and charging
EV sales nationwide increased 38% in 2016, and then another 32% throughout 2017, as charging stations became more convenient. Those electric car purchases reflect Americans’ values, including a desire to protect our communities’ public health, reduce global warming pollution and stop using so much oil.
Even the change-resistant auto industry recognizes that the future is electric. GM plans to launch 20 EV models by 2023, while Ford announced last month it plans to invest $11 billion in EVs, with a goal of having 40 models by 2022. These new cars don’t just check off the “electric” box; they’re earning acclaim from mainstream car enthusiasts. Motor Trend even named Chevrolet’s Bolt the 2017 Car of the Year.
Environment Florida Research & Policy Center’s “Plugging In” report estimates that Jacksonville could possibly see 36,000 new electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
But with more electric vehicles on the road, and many more coming soon, cities need to map out where EVs will charge, particularly in city centers and neighborhoods without off-street parking. In all, major cities will need to install hundreds to thousands of new publicly-accessible electric vehicle chargers to keep the increased number of EVs running, depending on the size of the city. Tampa, for example, will need to install 400% more public charging stations to meet demand.
“American cities risk being unprepared for the impending arrival of thousands of electric vehicles on their streets,” said Alana Miller, policy analyst at Frontier Group and co-author of “Plugging In.” “Without forward-thinking policies that give EV owners places to park and charge their vehicles, cities could lose out on the health and air quality benefits that electric vehicles can deliver,” Miller said.
“The next generation of vehicles is already available, and is powered by clean, cost efficient energy,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard. “One of the biggest barriers to greater EV adoption is the lack of charging infrastructure. As an electric vehicle owner myself, I’m excited for more tools to be available to cities and counties in Florida that will help to speed adoption of these clean vehicles. We need to be proactive now in building the energy infrastructure needed to support the fast approaching future of transportation.”
Thankfully, cities in Florida are beginning to embrace the shift towards electric vehicles. The cities of Oldsmar and Dunedin in Pinellas County are hosting Sustain The Bay: A Drive Electric Event featuring interactive educational exhibits and an electric vehicle showcase on March 31st from 10AM-2PM.
“The fully realized electric car is changing everything from our homes to highways to our parking lots at work and wherever we drive,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Promoting the use of electric vehicles means cleaner air, and running vehicles on homegrown energy – including clean, renewable energy from solar and wind. We must pivot now and look for the best practices in public infrastructure and planning to accommodate these cars if we are to continue mobility as we know it in the next twenty years.”
The report’s authors note that local and state officials increasingly are having to lead on issues related to climate change, clean energy, and clean cars, as the Trump administration dismantles federal policies that offered concrete solutions to these issues. In the coming weeks, the administration is expected to propose new steps towards revoking federal fuel efficiency standards and weakening clean car policies.
On the other hand, the pending distribution of $166 million in Florida from the Volkswagen scandal settlement, provides a great opportunity to fund electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric buses.
“Adopting smart public policies, which have been implemented already in visionary American and international cities, can help more U.S. cities lead the electric vehicle revolution,” noted Rubiello. “For the sake of our public health and environment, it’s crucial that we expand access to clean transportation for those who live, work and play in our urban centers. And once we complete the transition away from gasoline and diesel, we can all breathe easier and see more clearly.”
This evening, the Senate Environmental and Preservation Committee will hear Senate Bill 462, which bans fracking in Florida. The hearing comes less than a week after hundreds of Floridians flooded the Capitol to advocate for a fracking ban.
To date, 90 local measures have been passed opposing fracking, a dangerous oil and gas excavation method that involves stimulating wells with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals.
WHAT: The Senate ban fracking bill, SB 462, will be heard in its first committee
WHEN: 4:30 PM, Monday, February 5th, 2018 (Note: the fracking ban bill is scheduled for the end of the committee hearing)
WHERE: Senate Environmental Preservation & Conservation Committee, Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Office Building
Livestream the meeting on the Florida Channel: https://thefloridachannel.org/
Advocates will rally for a fracking ban, conservation funding, and more
On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., more than 200 anti-fracking and conservation advocates from the Panhandle to Miami will rally ahead of a statewide lobby day. Advocates will urge legislators to pass a statewide fracking ban, increase support for renewable energy, ensure Florida’s waters are protected and fund land conservation.
A bill proposed this year would dedicate $100 million annually to Florida Forever, the state’s premiere land conservation program. Legislation to ban fracking in Florida has also been introduced in both the state Senate and House with bipartisan sponsorship.
State Rep. Kathleen Peters
State Rep. Ben Diamond
State Rep. Sean Shaw
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith
Dr. Lonnie Draper, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Kim Ross, ReThink Energy Florida
Victor Rodriguez, Organize Florida Climate Justice Committee
VISUALS: More than 200 anti-fracking and land conservation advocates from across the state, colorful signs and banners
WHEN: Wednesday, January 31st at 10:30 am
WHERE: Waller Park (in front of the dolphins), 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 (Florida State Capitol)