Florida doesn’t need lawsuits criminalizing energy manufacturing

Julio Fuentes

Gov. Ron DeSantis called on stakeholders to join in promoting “a virtuous cycle whereby low taxes, a reasonable regulatory climate, a sensible legal system and a healthy environment attract jobs, business and investment.”

This encapsulates the approach that Florida’s Hispanic businesses favor.

The 604,000 Hispanic-owned businesses contribute more than $90 billion to Florida’s economy annually. All we ask for are public policies that allow us to prosper while being responsive to the public interest for safety, justice and environmental protection.

In contrast, the group EarthRights International asked Fort Lauderdale’s City Council to consider suing energy firms for billions that could be needed to mitigate the effects of projected rises in sea levels. 

Large firms have enlisted cities in this legal folly, but this will not raise revenue nor be a solution to climate change. Federal judges in California and New York dismissed suits against energy manufacturers because a Supreme Court case cited that corporations cannot be sued over emissions under federal common law. 

Former state Attorney General Bill McCollum recently said, “Large, national trial firms are the driving force behind the recent proliferation of public nuisance lawsuits being filed by localities.” Their goal is to find a judge amenable to tossing precedent aside and embracing the flawed idea of suing our way to climate-change solutions.

Florida doesn’t need additional lawsuits that aim to criminalize energy manufacturing. Let’s address climate change with a spirit of cooperation and compromise by meeting the challenges of the future instead of fighting over the past.

Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber.