Environmentalism in the Sunshine State
Today, States across America are no longer waiting for politicians in Washington, D.C. to act on climate change. This comes at a time in which American leadership on climate has increasingly come into question in light of President Trump’s deregulation efforts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Administration’s withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement - an international accord aimed at addressing carbon pollution and climate change impacts through global efforts.
- Fortunately, because of America’s constitutional form of government - in which federalism and state power play key and instrumental roles in the way government creates and establishes laws and programs in order to address concerns and needs of the American people - States have been able to assume the mantle of leadership and act decisively on climate change.
- States, as is the case in the State of Florida - well known for its sunshine, beaches and tourism industries - are leading the way. Florida’s legislature recently concluded its legislative session, and with it came great strides for the cause of environmentalism, climate resiliency and sustainability in the Sunshine State. Under Republican-controlled majorities in both the Florida State House and Senate, laws and programs aimed at addressing the adverse impacts of climate change on Florida’s environmentally sensitive lands, such as the Everglades - one of America’s national parks and greatest treasures - and coral reefs, increasing under threat from warming oceans, were passed and established.
- The state is no longer waiting for the federal government to fund or manage efforts because they simply can’t wait for Washington to decide to act on climate change, for if and when they do, it might just be too late for Florida.
- In it’s fight to address climate change, Florida has taken steps to have the federal government’s power and authority over environmental matters to be limited or diminished greatly, approving measures such as (SB1402/HB7043), which transfers wetland protection authority in the federal Clean Water Act away from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and into the hands of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This is arguably one of the most important measures passed in the session for it lay downs the foundation for future state-driven solutions, with regards to environmental policies and concerns.
- When States are empowered, the American people win - for solutions and programs are influenced and shaped more directly by the people any such solutions or programs impact most. Federalism will work in America’s long term efforts to combat the adverse impacts of Climate Change, for States know what’s best when it comes to addressing the unique environmental challenges of their respective lands and communities, and Florida is showing the country just how to get things done in times of political dysfunction in Washington, D.C.