Florida governor signs legislation to repeal state RFS

By Erin Voegele | June 04, 2013

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed legislation into law repealing the state’s renewable fuel standard (RFS). The bill, H.B. 4001, was introduced in December by state Reps. Matt Gaetz and Keith Perry.

In a signing message posted to his website, Scott called Florida’s Renewable Fuel Standard Act “a state mandate on Florida businesses that is duplicative of the federal renewable fuel standard.” He also said the state program is inconsistent with efforts to reduce regulatory burdens within the state, which has helped created more than 330,000 private sector jobs over the past two years.

“It is my intent to continue to allow free market sources and lower taxes to make Florida the number one state in which to run a business, innovate, and create jobs,” he said in the message. Scott also said that while he does not agree with the strategy of imposing a state mandate to support a specific technology or industry sector, he will continue to support efforts to bring energy-related innovation, competition and jobs to the state. “Many energy and fuel-producing companies have already invested in Florida,” he continued. “They offer high-tech, high-wage jobs to Floridians and we welcome more of them to compete in our state.”

Bob DInneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, and Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy have issued a joint statement criticizing Scott’s action. “As this country struggles to come back from recent economic hardships, it is sad to watch a state legislate away good paying jobs in the renewable energy sector and the abundant economic opportunities that come along with them,” they said. “This bill isn’t worth the paper it is printed on given that the federal renewable fuel standard supersedes any state law. This toothless legislation might win favor with Big Oil supporters, but it has closed the door on job creation by the biofuels industry and sent investors packing for more visionary states. This is most definitely a lost opportunity for the people of Florida.”

The Biotechnology Industry Organization has also spoken out to express its disappointment. “Florida’s repeal of its RFS sends a chilling message that companies developing advanced biofuel and other biotechnology innovations are unwelcome in the state,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “Florida has been on the cutting edge in research and development of cellulosic and algae biofuels, as well as new crops for advanced biofuels, such as energy cane. Undermining the state’s market for biofuels will discourage further development within the state, potentially driving out innovation, investment and jobs.”

Erickson also pointed out that companies have invested more than $215 million in the state over the past five years to develop commercial-scale advanced biofuel projects, which have generated nearly 1,000 highly skilled jobs. “Florida’s bioscience industry has monitored the state’s commitment to policies that drive investment and development of new industries,” he continued. “Florida’s biotech sector comprises more than 5,100 companies that employ more than 78,000 Floridians, contributing to the state’s job growth over the past decade. Biotech companies provide higher than average wages (about $30,000 above the average) to well-educated and highly skilled workers. A significant number of those companies and people are focused on biotech solutions to improve agricultural productivity and growing new crops for energy.”