Republicans in Florida oppose efforts by cities to refurbish gas stations
President Biden’s announcement that the US would be electrified was hailed by many as a long overdue step towards zero emissions and the containment of the climate crisis. In Florida, however, lawmakers aren’t quite as keen on welcoming the move away from fossil fuels. In fact, Florida legislation now exists bans cities from the requirement for gas stations to add charging stations for electric vehicles.
Obviously, any interference in Florida’s petroleum industry is prohibited, and that includes the end of the supply chain – pumping gasoline and diesel.
The old automotive industry is being dragged into the transition to electric vehicles. While it took a decade for fully electric implementation to kick in, more than 100 models will be available to consumers by the end of 2021. This is partly due to stricter CAFE standards – one of the transport emissions measures that are under federal control.
Today, 80% of DC fast and level 2 charging stations – the fastest way to charge an electric vehicle – are located in the following types of facilities: hotels and residential buildings, car dealerships, shopping malls, and parking lots, according to the Department of Energy’s alternative fuel data center. The need for DC fast charging centers is imminent for audiences everywhere, from lower-income customers, fleets, and residents who don’t have a garage with 120-volt or 240-volt sockets.
Gas stations would be ideal places to recharge. But not in Florida.
The legislation, the lobbyists, the liars
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was delighted to sign the Gas Station Prevention Act. HB839, which came into force in June 2021, “protects” gas stations and similar infrastructure from cities considering policy options to promote clean energy, including charging infrastructure. Doncha love the language twist? Why does a billion dollar industry need a law that “protects” it?
Oh, yes – the fossil fuel industry supports the candidacy of DeSantis and others if they stand for re-election.
Rather than allowing cities to use local knowledge to make decisions, the Florida Department of Transportation will fund fast-charging stations on highways across the state. But that money doesn’t come from taxpayers. Nope. Florida is using money from Volkswagen’s Dieselgate agreement – $ 8.6 million to be precise. The plan is to add 34 fast charging stations along Interstate 95, Interstate 4, Interstate 75, Interstate 275 and Interstate 295.
But if it has to look classy and forward-looking, Florida can point to EV spending – just without mentioning the VW Slush fund source.
During the committee hearings, the bill sponsor Rep. Tom Fabricio said the bill was necessary. He referred to a resolution by the Tampa City Council that set the goal for the city to switch to 100% clean energy by 2030. Fabricio insisted that a decade is not enough to make such changes. “We can’t just get rid of the sale of petroleum, and that is exactly what this bill is supposed to do.” At least he was honest about his POV – even if he is completely ill-informed.
DeSantis smiled too in his delusion. “As electric cars become more common on our streets and highways, the development of these charging stations is essential to the success of our constantly evolving transportation system.”
Just don’t get fossil fuel companies to adapt and help out – that’s all. Under the new law, local governments can still regulate things like zoning, building regulations and necessary transportation issues.
Interestingly, the state awarded 27 contracts to build the stations based on hurricane evacuation routes. Little information is available on what type of battery storage, if any, would be part of the design to make up for power outages that indicate major hurricane scenarios in Florida, for example.
A first version of the invoice contain provisions that would have prevented local governments from banning natural gas fracking, repealed regulations promoting solar energy, and removed the county’s jurisdiction over pipelines along roads. It seems that when it suits them, Florida’s conservative lawmakers believe that centralized government should get out of the way.
Manufacture of electric vehicles in the southeastern United States
Of course, Florida doesn’t have big auto production in its state, so its influence is more of a provincial one. Tennessee, on the other hand, is a leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles in the southeastern United States. Nearly 20,000 people from Tennessee are employed by EV operating companies that are expected to produce more than 200,000 EVs by 2028.
This state is welcoming more electric car manufacturers as part of its mission to accelerate electric vehicle supply chains in the region. As of 2013, Tennessee has been home to more than 152,000 electric vehicles and more than $ 6.2 billion in related capital investments, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Our friends over there Oakridger provided a fine overview of EV-related investments in Tennessee. Let’s check it out.
- Ford Motor Company announced a $ 5.6 billion investment to build a huge industrial campus about 80 kilometers northeast of Memphis to manufacture a new generation of electric trucks and electric vehicle batteries. It was the largest – but not the first – major investment in Tennessee’s electric vehicle industry.
- At Spring Hill, General Motors has invested more than $ 4.3 billion in manufacturing electric cars and their batteries in the past 18 months.
- In Clarksville, Tennessee’s fifth-largest city, comes a nine-digit industrial investment, part of the electrically powered automotive movement. The US company Microvast Power Solutions has selected Clarksville as a location for the production of electric vehicle batteries, mainly for commercial vehicles.
- In eastern Tennessee, the Japanese company DENSO invested $ 1 billion in Maryville five years ago to create and expand more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs.
- Chattanooga has seen a sizable EV investment from Gestamp of $ 94.7 million. Sese Industrial Services will build a 300,000 square meter axle assembly plant in Chattanooga to manufacture components for Volkswagen’s electric vehicle line. Volkswagen’s first North American EV production facility is also located in Chattanooga. The project, which was first announced in early 2019, involves an investment of $ 800 million. It creates 1,000 jobs in Hamilton County.
- GM will invest $ 2 billion in the Cadillac Lyriq, the luxury electric SUV, at the Spring Hill plant. GM says it will cease sales of gas-powered light trucks and sport utility vehicles by 2035. (Are you listening, Rep. Fabricio?)
- The Nissan plant in Smyrna is now building the Maxima, LEAF, Pathfinder, Rogue, INFINITI QX60 and Murano brands.
- In February, state officials announced that Axle Manufacturing was moving new operations to Tennessee, resulting in a $ 42 million investment and 240 jobs.
Final thoughts on Florida, electric vehicles, and renewable energy
Earlier this year, the Florida Energy Bureau released an electric vehicle roadmap outlining plans for dealing with the expected rapid growth of electric vehicles. Mind you: This is a state with no tax incentives for drivers or executive measures for manufacturers.
Florida currently has 60,000 electric vehicles on the streets and is expected to double that number over the next 10 years. Government agencies, advocacy groups and electric vehicle drivers are preparing for this growth. However, each of these constituent groups seems to attribute the impending workload to a different sector.
Isn’t it time that Florida’s rulers stepped up and say goodbye to the fossil fuel industry? Its citizens, too, could use a little education about the power and place of electric vehicles in the next decade. Florida is great for renewable energy – if only its leaders paved the way.
Do you value the originality of CleanTechnica? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica member, supporter, technician, or ambassador – or a sponsor of Patreon.