Climate Change

Flooding in Flagler County.
Flagler County Emergency Services

With less than three weeks left in the legislative session, a key Senate panel Wednesday supported providing a tax break to property owners who elevate homes to address potential flooding, part of a House plan to combat rising sea levels.


The Local Media Association has announced 22 news outlets from across the country, including Jacksonville’s own WJCT News 89.9 and WJCT News partner News4Jax, that will be participating in its new Covering Climate Collaborative. WJCT produces ADAPT, a digital magazine focused on how climate change is impacting Northeast Florida and what’s being done about it, and the ADAPT Newsletter. 

'The Guardian' Asks: Will Florida Be Lost Forever To The Climate Crisis?

Apr 13, 2021
Ellis Rua / Associated Press

Few places on the planet are more at risk from the climate crisis than south Florida, where more than 8 million residents are affected by the convergence of almost every modern environmental challenge – from rising seas to contaminated drinking water, more frequent and powerful hurricanes, coastal erosion, flooding and vanishing wildlife and habitat.

A man wades through flood water as he check out damage from Hurricane Matthew Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in St. Augustine , Fla.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Tens of millions of dollars a year would go to fight the effects of rising sea levels under bills passed by the Florida House and Senate this week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses Manatee County wastewater leak

None of the dams in Northeast Florida have emergency action plans, even though 26 of the 28 dams require them and eight would be expected to cause some loss of life if they were to ever  rupture. That’s according to data from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

Identical measures in the Florida House and Senate would establish a statewide pilot program for farmers to be compensated after adopting climate-friendly practices.

Residents walk a flooded street to reach their homes, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, where Tropical Storm Eta caused severe flooding in areas already saturated from previous downpours.
Marta Lavandier / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis would get more than he requested for Everglades restoration and water projects in the coming year under an initial Senate budget proposal that also would set up a grant program to address sea-level rise.

One of the most ambitious environmental efforts this legislative session is called "Resilient Florida." The pet project of Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls of Palm Harbor would pump $1 billion into programs designed to combat the effects of climate change.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing to pay for it with part of the $10 billion expected from the latest federal pandemic stimulus plan.

Plan Emerges In Fla. Legislature For Sea-Level Rise, Wastewater Funding

Mar 24, 2021
A Jeep drives through a flooded street in St. Augustine.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls late Tuesday released a plan to tap into a type of real-estate taxes to pay for projects to address the effects of sea-level rise and upgrade sewage treatment. 

Bed Tax Money Would Be Used To Combat Flooding Under Florida House Proposal

Mar 23, 2021

Despite opposition from the tourism industry, a House committee Monday moved forward with a proposal that would allow counties to spend so-called “bed” tax money on efforts to combat flooding.

The proposal (HB 1429), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, would expand the way that tourist-development tax money can be used. He pointed to projections that sea level rise will cause major flooding problems in the future.

After years of ignoring or denying climate change, Florida has begun assessing the threat that sea rise poses to a sprawling transportation network essential to the state’s economy.

But the risks, like the water, are rising fast.

A patient is evacuated by boat from the St. Vincent's Medical Center after floodwaters from Hurricane Irma covered the first floor of the hospital in Jacksonville on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
John Raoux / Associated Press

If some state lawmakers have their way, local governments like Jacksonville could lose their ability to address climate change and its impacts independent of the Florida Legislature.

Florida's Chief Science Officer Quietly Relinquishes Position

Mar 18, 2021

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took office two years ago in a state that had been hammered by two major hurricanes in two years and was suffering through an epic toxic algae crisis, he earned widespread praise for appointing the state’s first chief science and chief resilience officers.

Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) is sponsoring a measure that would preempt regulation of transportation energy infrastructure to the state. That means local governments wouldn't be able to make decisions about the construction, upgrading, and repairing of things like gas stations. Hutson says some local governments want to switch from gas to electric for powering cars—and he says that takes away consumer choice.

Florida lawmakers Friday unveiled a series of bills they say would protect homeowners and businesses from rising seas and flooding brought on by climate change.

The proposals would give tax breaks to homeowners who elevate their homes because of flooding. And around $100 million would be provided to local governments that plan to combat rising seas.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, introduced the bills at the waterfront campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Lawmakers are facing pressure this session to fund environmental projects at the behest of Governor Ron DeSantis. This comes as money is tight due to constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A man paddles a kayak near a flooded home after storm surge from Hurricane Irma pushed water into the low lying area.
Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

The Jacksonville City Council’s Special Committee on Resiliency has unanimously approved its final report. The recommendations in that report will serve as the foundation for the work that will be undertaken by the city’s future Chief Resiliency Officer.

Camden County Georgia has launched a new tool to help residents understand the risks posed by flooding and sea level rise.

Flooding on Ken Knight Drive during Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Cherisse Lamb

During a meeting hosted by the North Florida Green Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Jacksonville City Councilwoman Randy DeFoor gave a preview of some of the recommendations the Special Committee on Resiliency, which she chairs, is scheduled to vote on this week and said the city will need to spend billions of dollars to defend against the impacts of climate change.

Residents walk a flooded street to reach their homes, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, where Tropical Storm Eta caused severe flooding in areas already saturated from previous downpours.
Marta Lavandier / Associated Press

From local planning councils to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, different agencies are making their own sea-level rise projections. But they’re not all the same. 

Flooding in Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma.
Robert Torbert

The city of Jacksonville plans to put on a series of public engagement workshops on sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Jacksonville Beach flooding is pictured on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 after Hurricane Matthew passed through.
Charlie Riedel / Associated Press

Several prominent local organizations are praising the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s decision to support a market-based approach to accelerate fossil fuel emissions reduction to address climate change, which may give more momentum to calls for the oil and gas industry to pay a carbon tax.

This 2017 file photo shows a flooded San Marco street during Hurricane Irma.
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

The city of Jacksonville has begun its search for a Chief Resiliency Officer, posting the position on its list of current job openings.

A bill to ban oil drilling in Florida is back before the legislature for the third time. The proposal also calls for the state to use 100% renewable sources for electricity by 2040. The bill's sponsor is Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando). She says she's spoken with Republican leaders about the proposal.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pictured speaking Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to spend $25 million next year and more in coming years to set up a program that would help address coastal flooding and other climate-change impacts across the state.

JEA's downtown Jacksonville headquarters.
Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

A new report from the Sierra Club on utility climate pledges gives JEA an F grade for its climate goal.

Residents make their way across a flooded street after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
John Raoux / Associated Press

The Jacksonville City Council’s Special Committee on Resiliency is getting close to wrapping up its work as members are scheduled to vote on and finalize recommendations during their next meeting.

John Raoux / Associated Press

The Northeast Florida Regional Council, along with five other regional planning councils from across Florida, are getting $1.49 million to develop a statewide approach to flood planning.

Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci announced Thursday that he will be running for mayor in 2023 and he tells WJCT News that addressing climate change and sea level rise would be a priority for his administration.

Florida Senate May Consider Permanent Post To Address Climate Change

Jan 12, 2021

An effort is back in the Senate to permanently set up a statewide office to consider climate change impacts, as environmentalists wait for a new chief resiliency officer to be appointed.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, filed a proposal Friday to establish an Office of Resiliency, a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Office of Resiliency would be part of DeSantis’ office.

Rodrigues’ proposal (SB 514) would also set up a nine-member Sea-Level Rise Task Force to establish baseline projections on anticipated sea-level rise and flooding impacts along Florida’s coastlines.