A Florida city wanted to move away from fossil fuels. The state just made sure it couldn’t.
Illustration by Grist
Floodlight's new investigation—with Grist and ADAPT—goes behind the scenes to explore how Republican lawmakers and the gas industry fought back against a Florida city seeking to transition to 100% clean energy.
Tampa City Councilman Joseph Citro worked for months with environmental groups and local businesses on a resolution to shift away from fossil fuels. But Florida gas companies pushed back, both at the local level and in the state legislature.
Republican State Sen. Travis Hutson guided legislation through the statehouse to preempt city efforts like Citro's. While Hutson was doing so, Tampa's utility TECO contributed heavily to political action committees supporting his campaigns.
This story will sound familiar to Floodlight readers. When we launched in March, our first collaboration detailed how gas companies fought local climate policies in Texas. Since then, the Texas legislature and governor enacted a new law to bar city climate plans from banning natural gas as a fuel source. In Texas, the bill was sponsored by a Democrat who said he was responding to "what is happening on the West Coast," where cities have prohibited new homes from offering natural gas heating, The Texas Tribune reported.
More than a dozen states have now passed laws preventing cities from banning natural gas in buildings. The Florida bills appear to go further — prohibiting local action that restricts "or has the effect of" restricting the use of fossil fuels.
Follow Pontecorvo and Rivers. If you aren't familiar with Northeast Florida's ADAPT, check out their original reporting about local government reactions to climate change.
Read the full investigation HERE.