Rep. Ben Diamond filed legislation Wednesday that seeks to identify the scope of climate change challenges in Florida and to prepare a resiliency plan to address those challenges.
The bill (HB 913) would establish a comprehensive research program to assess the impacts of climate change and require a resiliency plan to mitigate effects.
Rep. Holly Raschein will be the prime co-sponsor of the House bill, giving the measure bipartisan backing.
“Climate change is the great issue of our time,” Diamond said. “Florida is already bearing the costs in the form of stronger hurricanes and more hazardous flooding. These effects are projected to become even more severe in the coming years. In Pinellas County — a peninsula on a peninsula — we are uniquely vulnerable to the impact of climate change.”
The bill calls for a broad assessment of the impacts of climate change on the state’s environment, land and water resources, biological diversity, agricultural production, energy, transportation infrastructure, public health, disaster preparedness, economic growth, employment and financial holdings.
An assessment report and resiliency plan would head to the Governor and Legislature every four years to continue meaningful action.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection would oversee the research and jointly coordinate with the FDEP Secretary and the state’s Chief Resiliency Officer. The program will include representation from Florida’s state agencies, local resiliency coalitions and the Florida Climate Institute.
“We’ve done good work on a local level to make our communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and now we need more coordinated leadership at the statewide level,” Raschein said. “This bill will create a framework for scientists, practitioners, and elected officials from across the state to work with one another on building a stronger, more resilient Florida. I am pleased to join with Representative Diamond in sponsoring this important bill.”
Sen. Darryl Rouson plans to file a companion bill in the Senate, according to Diamond.
“This important issue affects and will benefit all Floridians and should be embraced by all legislators who want to positively impact future generations,” Rouson said. “Time is running out. We must act now.”