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Tampa climate advocates push for more renewable energy following President's climate address

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 21:31:20-04

TAMPA, Fla. — President Joe Biden fell short of announcing a federal climate emergency Wednesday afternoon. Instead, the President announced more funding for climate related issues.

"That's why today I'm making the largest investment ever. $2.3 billion to help communities across the country build infrastructure designed to withstand the full range of disasters we've been seeing up through today, extreme heat, flooding , tornadoes, hurricanes," said President Biden.

Globally, excessive heat waves are a major climate topic as temperatures hit record numbers in multiple parts of the world.

"Right now, there are millions of people suffering from extreme heat at home. So my team is also working with the states to deploy $385 million dollars right now," he added. "for the first time, states will be able to use federal funds to pay for air conditioners in homes , set up community cooling centers in schools where people can get through these extreme heat crisis."

University of South Florida Professor Dr. Feng Hao said that money could help address other climate issues in the Sunshine State.

"I mean, Tampa is a good example. We are vulnerable to sea levels rising and another thing is hurricanes," Dr. Hao said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said 75% of Florida's natural energy comes from natural gas in 2020. It found the Sunshine State was the second-largest producer of electricity, behind Texas.

Dr. Hao said the best defense tactic is to break our dependence on fossil fuels.

"By fossil fuels, I mean coal, crude oil, natural gas," Dr. Hao said.

The U.S. EIA also found more than 9 in 10 households use electricity for temperature control. More than half of the electricity used in Florida comes from houses.

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President Biden also announced Wednesday he wants to prioritize more offshore wind power on the Texas and Louisiana coasts of the Gulf of Mexico.

"When we talk about climate change, I know that I'm not contributing to it from my household footprint," Stanko said.

The U.S. EIA says in 2020, Florida became fourth in the nation in total solar power generating capacity.

Stanko has 19 panels on her home. She plans to add another five in the coming months.

"That should take us up to enough to cover all of our energy use, including my plug in electric car," said Stanko. "It's been a good experience, the installation was good. The energy is totally dependable. And the collectors are pretty are resistant to hurricanes."

Stanko said now she wants the President to protect the 26% tax credit for solar panels.

"I would ask President Biden to extend it. So more people can take advantage and afford solar energy for their home because it is an investment," Stanko said.

Meantime, Dr. Hao said Florida should push for more cars using its electric charging stations. He says Florida is second to California for the availability of charging stations.

"That is another promising pathway that can help us reduce CO2 emissions and tackle climate crisis," he said.