Debbie Beutel: Small-business owners support energy preemption

There is no way to operate our business without natural gas.

I read George Riley’s recent column in Florida Politics on the energy preemption bill with great confusion.

He claimed the legislation will “hurt small businesses.”

I own a small business, and I can assure you this bill is exactly what we need to keep my small business alive.

A ban on natural gas would be catastrophic for businesses like mine. SB 1128 and HB 919 will effectively prevent local governments from banning natural gas.

My husband Greg and I own Buffalo Chophouse, a restaurant in Port St. Lucie. We serve up juicy steaks, burgers and wings to locals and visitors. Our famous Beef on Weck will take you to Buffalo, New York, with one bite.

We’re proud to offer a taste of our hometown to the Sunshine State. Natural gas makes it possible.

Natural gas is the most important part of the kitchen. It is essential. There is no way to operate our business without natural gas.

Yet, in more than 20 cities across the United States, local governments have implemented bans on natural gas. And there are dozens more considering the policy right now. Here in Florida, the City of Tampa recently considered a proposal that would effectively ban natural gas, and the City of West Palm Beach has also floated the concept.

The state of Florida should not allow local governments to ban natural gas. That’s what SB 1128 by Sen. Travis Hutson and HB 919 by Rep. Josie Tomkow will accomplish. These bills prevent local governments from implementing bans on energy sources.

Natural gas is clean, efficient, reliable and affordable. More than 70,000 businesses and 700,000 homes across Florida depend on direct-to-consumer natural gas.

If natural gas was banned by my local government, our restaurant’s utility bills would skyrocket. We’d be forced to retrofit the restaurant to comply with the law. And we’d have to buy all new appliances.

After a rocky year, during which we’ve struggled to remain open due to health, safety and COVID-restrictions, we can’t afford a ban on natural gas. A ban on natural gas would put my business out of business.

If the local governments want to see a reduction in private business owners, which by the way the United States was built on the backs of small-business owners, then take away our access to natural gas. The consequences will be severe.

Business will fail, and people will lose their jobs.

I’m a small-business owner, and I support SB 1128 and HB 919.


Debbie Beutel is the owner of Buffalo Chophouse.


Guest Author

One comment

  • Sam

    March 25, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    I don’t get it. Is there really a significant number of Florida citizens who want to do away with natural gas? Or even gasoline for that matter? Just ten years ago or less, natural gas was still being celebrated as the best way to go for the home. I did as much city gas in my home as practical because there were incentives and I know the city does not want electric demand to go up to the point where they need another plant. I’ve got to believe this is more of a culture war fossil fuel BS issue than a real thing….problem is I don’t know which side this crap is coming from.

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