A bill to preempt energy regulations was watered down in committee meetings, but it still faced questions from Democrats on the House floor during a second reading Tuesday.
The bill (HB 839) is now ready for a vote by the full House.
At this point the bill would shield gas stations and their related infrastructure from being outlawed by local governments that want to encourage clean energy. An earlier version of the bill received pushback in committee meetings when the preemption was more broad and included provisions that would prevent local governments from prohibiting natural gas fracking, as well as nullify solar-promoting ordinances and eliminate county authority over pipelines along roadways.
Now the bill preempts certain regulations of gas stations and their infrastructure to the state, but local governments could still regulate things like zoning, building codes and necessary transportation issues. A local government, under the bill, would not be able to require a gas station to include electric vehicle charging stations.
The original bill was one of several proposals that could have rolled back cities’ and counties’ authority to adopt clean-energy plans and ordinances. Cities and counties were prepared to fight the legislation.
Rep. Tom Fabricio sponsored the bill. He responded to questions from Democrats about why the preemption was necessary.
“I believe that there is a lot of talk throughout the state from different portions of different initiatives that would absolutely seek to eliminate petroleum immediately or as quickly as possible. And while I support green initiatives, we need to take things in a measured approach, and we can’t simply eliminate the sale of petroleum, and that’s what this bill seeks to do,” Fabricio said.
Fabricio specifically cited a resolution considered, but not passed, by the Tampa City Council that would have a set a goal for the city to move to 100% clean energy by 2030.
Senate companion legislation (SB 856) was similarly tailored. It passed its final committee, Rules, also on Tuesday. It is now ready for the Senate floor.