TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2016) – A Florida bill that would take a small, but important, first step in setting the stage to nullify federal EPA rules and regulations passed its first committee hurdle Monday.

Rep. Manny Diaz Jr (R – Miami) and Rep. and Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Ft. Myers) prefiled House Bill 639 (HB639) in November. The legislation would bar the state from implementing rules or regulations, or from submitting to a state or multistate implementation plan that limits or attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions based on EPA mandates unless Congress specifically “enacts legislation regulating limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing stationary sources,” or a federal court issues a final ruling “upholding the legality of regulations addressing carbon dioxide from existing stationary sources issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. s. 7411(d).”

The bill passed the Energy and Utilities Subcommittee 10-2 with an amendment. The amended language simply stipulates that the state Department of Environmental protection may submit a progress reports or requests for extensions to the EPA.

HB639 would stop the state from complying with mandates and rules issued unilaterally by the EPA, an unaccountable federal agency. While the legal basis is a bit squishy considering the fact no delegated power exists authorizing Congress to pass mandates limiting emissions either, it would still have a practical effect. Congress almost certainly won’t pass any such laws, and it will take years for the federal courts to reach a “final ruling,” if they do at all. As a result, this legislation would practically nullify EPA emission mandates in the Sunshine State for the foreseeable future.

Passage of HB639 would represent a small step forward toward Florida taking back control of its environmental policy. It would begin to place the process back in the hands of the state, thus diminishing the power of the federal agency. Passage would also set the stage for more aggressive action such as refusing cooperation with the enforcement of EPA rules and regulations.

A companion bill (SB838) is pending in the Senate.

Florida bills must wind through a multi-committee process before moving on to the full House or Senate for a vote. HB639 will move to a second committee. That assignment has yet to be made.

Mike Maharrey

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