This week, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried showcased a new energy efficiency bill that is sponsored by state Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, and state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, at a press conference in Boca Raton.
The legislation would create an aggressive, statewide climate change mitigation strategy with the goal of reducing state greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, 90 percent by 2050, and 100 percent by 2055.
Fried was joined by Polsky, Skidmore, Boca Raton City Councilwoman Monica Mayotte and Justin Dunlap from the United Farmers Alliance.
“We’ve already started to see the devastating impacts of climate change affect our state – with even hotter temperatures, higher levels of flooding, worsening red tide and blue-green algae killing plants and animals and affecting our tourism, and sea-level rise all impacting our daily lives,” Fried said. “This may be the most urgent issue of our time, but it seems like most of state leaders are asleep at the wheel. I’m here to make sure they know that nothing is more important and doing nothing is no longer an option. We need to take decisive action to protect our environment and to save our state.”
“If we don’t act now, when will we act? We are running out of time,” Polsky said. “This bill is big and bold, but we need to go forward with it. It’s time to take serious action. Let’s put partisan politics aside and do this.”
“This is the kind of big, bold, comprehensive energy legislation that this state needs. We know that we are reliant on our tourism economy, and without those decisions being made we risk that future,” Skidmore said. “It is crucial that we pass this bill.”
“We are seeing the effects of climate change all around us, especially here in Boca,” Mayotte said. “It is well past time to move forward as a state, and it is critical that we launch new, innovative initiatives like these to ensure our state is moving in the right direction both economically and environmentally at the same time. We cannot be successful at either unless we lead on both.”
“As we grow and develop over the course of the next few years, it is really important for the agricultural community to stay innovate on their approach for the development of new agricultural entities,” said Dunlap. “This bill really helps that impact and allows us to do that more… it’s important for the agriculture industry to take a sustainable approach when retaining and developing new farms.”
The bill will be considered during the 2022 legislative session. The legislation takes a number of steps to improve energy efficiency and conservation, including: creating a requirement for buildings that receive state funds to report their greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency; instituting tax credits for farms that produce renewable energy, and financial assistance for producers who choose to implement recommended conservation programs; prioritizing energy efficiency upgrades in low-income communities across the state; implementing new standards for solar panel installations and consumer protections; and allowing for a method called “floating solar” in which solar panels can be installed in retention pond systems.
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