Third Quarter 2007

Florida Addresses Greenhouse Gas Issues

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Lawrence E. Sellers | Lawrence N. Curtin

Following a two-day summit on climate change issues held in Miami, Florida, Governor Charlie Crist issued three executive orders, establishing a number of far-reaching requirements, to address greenhouse gas emissions.

The first executive order, EO 07-126, establishes greenhouse gas reduction targets for state agencies and departments under the direction of the Office of the Governor. The targets require a 10 percent reduction from current emission levels by the year 2012, a 25 percent reduction from current emission levels by the year 1017, and a 40 percent reduction from current emission levels by 2025. All of this will be tracked on a Florida Governmental Carbon Scoreboard. The EO also directs an assessment of energy use, the adoption of the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership and Energy Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction standards for new buildings, and contains energy-related requirements for new leasing agreements for office space.

The second order, EO 07-127, establishes greenhouse gas emission reductions targets for the state of Florida. The targets require that emissions be reduced to 2000 levels by the year 2017, to 1990 levels by the year 2025, and to 80 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. The EO also directs the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately develop rules establishing maximum-allowable emissions levels of greenhouse gases for electric utilities. The emission-reduction milestones for the utilities mirror the emission goals for the state. That is, emissions will be reduced to year 2000 levels by 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025, and to 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. The DEP is also directed to adopt the California Motor Vehicle Emission Standards and a statewide diesel-engine-idle reduction standard. DEP already has issued a Notice of Rule Development, and workshops are scheduled for August 22 and 23, 2007.

The Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is directed by this EO to convene the Florida Building Commission, for the purpose of revising the Florida Energy Code for building construction to increase energy performance of new construction by at least 15 percent. The target implementation date for the revision is January 1, 2009. Additionally, rulemaking is to be initiated to increase the efficiency of consumer products by 15 percent from the current standards. This provision is to be implemented July 1, 2009. Finally, the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is not an executive branch agency, is requested to adopt rules that require utilities to produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources – focusing on solar and wind energy. The PSC is also charged with authorizing a uniform, statewide method to enable residential and commercial customers who generate electric power from onsite renewable technologies to benefit from limited net metering for up to one megawatt of capacity. These rulemakings are requested to be initiated by September 1, 2007.

The third order, EO 07-128, establishes the Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change. This group is charged with developing a comprehensive “energy climate change” action plan that will achieve or surpass the targets in EO 07-127 for greenhouse gas reductions. The action team, which has not yet been appointed, will report by November 1, 2007, on its recommendations. The first phase of the recommendation will involve establishing reduction strategies for stationary sources and motor vehicles and increasing renewable energy opportunities. The second phase, to be completed by October 1, 2008, will look at longer-range strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new growth, evaluate carbon capture and storage technologies and generally map out long-range plans for greenhouse gas reductions.

Overall, the Governor has laid out an ambitious program for greenhouse gas emission reductions. The rulemaking activities should be lively, and legislative action may result. 

Related Insights