State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and state Rep. Adam Hattersley are each filing legislation that would require Florida officials to continue protecting endangered and threatened species, even after the federal government removes those classifications.
That protection would continue even after an endangered or threatened species is declassified under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
“When our federal leaders roll back protections for endangered and threatened species without justification, it’s time for Florida to step up and protect our unique biodiversity,” Rodríguez said in a Friday statement on the legislation.
The Endangered Species Act allows those classifications to be made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service.
But at the state level, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also has the authority to designate a species as endangered or threatened.
The bills from Rodríguez and Hattersley, a pair of Democratic lawmakers, would also bar the FWC and the DEP from considering ” the economic cost of protecting a species as a factor in designating the species as endangered or threatened,” according to the bill’s language.
“Florida has one of the highest numbers of endangered species in the country,” Hattersley said.
“Maintaining our ability to protect and preserve the innocent creatures that call our state home is our duty, not only for their sake, but also for the vital role that Florida plays in our national and global ecosystem.”
Rodríguez has also long been a proponent of tackling environmental issues.
The 2019 Legislative Session marked the second consecutive year where Rodríguez donned rain boots every day of Session to bring attention to the issue of climate change. Those boots also displayed a message reading “#ActOnClimate.”
His most recent bill would also explicitly factor in the effects of climate change for consideration of whether an animal’s habitat is being threatened for purposes of classification.
The measures from Rodríguez and Hattersley would also apply to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services when considering which plant species should remain protected.
If approved, the legislation would take effect on July 1, 2020. So far, the bills, filed Friday, have not been assigned to any committees for a hearing.