Florida Record

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

State think tank backs Fort Lauderdale's climate change decision

By Sarah Downey | Jul 29, 2019


Solar panels are a renewable energy resource | American Public Power Association

TALLAHASSEE -- A Florida public policy organization supports the recent decision by Fort Lauderdale city officials to forgo involvement in climate change litigation.

Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, said it’s the right choice for taxpayers.

“If I were a resident of Fort Lauderdale, I would be reassured that my local government was not wasting my tax dollars pursuing litigation that’s absolutely going to fail,” he said.


Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy, James Madison Institute | James Madison Institute

Nuzzo noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously nearly a decade ago, a decision that essentially stated that Congress would be the appropriate branch of government to address the issue.

“Both from a practical standpoint and a separation of powers standpoint – and in terms of the legal ruling at the federal level – it is not a wise path for a city or a county to pursue litigation against either oil companies or whomever relevant to climate change,” Nuzzo said.

It isn’t clear whether Fort Lauderdale had held any public hearings on the matter. The city was approached last year by an environmental advocacy group, but it chose not to move forward with any action.

At the same time, attorneys for the advocacy group are continuing to consult other municipalities in Florida and elsewhere.

“It is my hope that cities and counties and state governments will look for innovation and technology and partner with the business community to address the challenges presented in climate change,” Nuzzo said.

Regarding a recent report by the Center for Climate Integrity, “Climate Costs in 2040: Florida,” which estimates taxpayers will need to pay billions to build protective seawalls on their coastlines, Nuzzo challenged its credibility. He described the study as projecting economic impact without taking into account improvements that could be made in the meantime.

“Even if the worst possible scenarios of that report were to come true – and I’m not suggesting that they are – it is still not in the purview of the local government to pursue that, and the Supreme Court was unanimous on that,” Nuzzo said.

Nuzzo added that several companies are already working to develop innovative solutions related to climate change. 

“Florida Power and Light is just one company that has kind of set the benchmark for advancing solar power and renewable power in the state," he said. "They are building more solar farms than just about anybody out there. They are using that to shift to more renewable power.”

That leads to better rates for consumers, he said.

“If you look at what Floridians pay for electric, it is a fraction of what residents of states like New Jersey and Connecticut and others pay, and it’s becoming more reliable,” Nuzzo said. “That’s the approach that actually achieves results. Litigation that just wastes taxpayer dollars will never accomplish what business entrepreneurs, what innovation and technology can.”

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Organizations in this Story

James Madison Institute