TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida cities and counties wouldn’t be able to ban sunscreens containing ingredients that some researchers say harm coral reefs, under a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday.
The Senate voted 25-14 in favor of the bill after no discussion or debate. If it becomes law, a Key West ordinance to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate would be nullified. The Key West ban is set to go into effect next year.
Research has shown the chemicals can cause coral bleaching, and the reefs around Key West attract divers, snorkelers and fishing enthusiasts. But Republican Sen. Rob Bradley has said previously that he sponsored the bill because protecting people is more important, and the research hasn’t proven the chemicals actually harm reefs.
An identical House bill has been approved in two committees and faces its last committee stop Thursday before being considered by the full chamber.
The city at the southern end of the Florida Keys isn’t the only place to ban the products. Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Caribbean island of Bonaire and the archipelago nation of Palau in the western Pacific have all enacted sunscreen bans that are either in place or will be over the next two years.
Drug store chain CVS announced in August that it will remove the chemicals from 60 of its store brand sunscreen products.
Miami Beach considered a similar ban, but eventually took no action.
The Republican-led Legislature has had a history of prohibiting local governments from enacting laws, most notably when it passed a law banning local governments from enacting ordinances regulating gun and ammunition sales. And last year Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a Bradley bill that prohibits local governments from banning front-yard vegetable gardens