A Refreshing Change in Tallahassee
DeSantis Makes Clean Water A Priority
Dems should applaud the commitment and hold him accountable
— By Richard Leonard, Communications Committee
Dead fish rotting on beaches and the putrid odor of algae wafting from our lagoon offend the senses. Rising seas imperil our coastal cities. Former Republican Gov. Rick Scott appeared to care little about these assaults on our environment.
By contrast, Republican Gov. Rick DeSantis appears to actually give a damn about the environment, based on his actions and initiatives during the first five months in office.
DeSantis’ budget, appointments, legislative initiatives and key environmental committee appointments have revealed him to be nothing like his predecessor and even his campaign idol, Donald Trump on this critical issue.
On Friday, DeSantis used his first veto to cast aside a Republican-led bill that would have prohibited local governments from banning plastic straws for the next five years.
Meanwhile, the governor continues his search to fill the newly created position of Chief Resilience Officer. You can find the job posting on Indeed and other job sites. It reads in part:
“The Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) will prepare Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise. Reporting to the Governor’s office, the CRO will work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) and other state agencies to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive statewide resilience goals to mitigate and adapt to the challenges facing Florida’s communities…The ideal candidate will possess discipline-specific knowledge, leadership, communication and business skills to identify environmental threats and promote resolution through working closely with community and government leaders.”
There it is.
Words that Scott had banned from the lexicon of state government have now been acknowledged as a reality.
DeSantis actually appears to believe in science. He created a five-member Blue-Green Algae Task Force made up of Ph.Ds. in marine sciences. These are brilliant, accomplished scientists, a far cry from the patronage appointments we have come to expect.
- Right out of the gate, DeSantis made the environment a budget priority. He won $685 million for environmental restoration and water resource management.
- He ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to “adamantly oppose” offshore drilling and fracking in Florida.
- He replaced the entire nine-member board of the South Florida Water Management District after the board put the interests of Big Sugar ahead of the clean water. The board had voted to extend a lease for sugar farmers on land designated as an Everglades reservoir to contain the pollutants produced by sugar farming.
DeSantis even earned some positive press from none other than Mother Jones magazine, which is hardly recommended reading among by Republicans. (MJwas thefirst publication to reveal the existence of the Steele dossier, for example).
Let’s be fair, Democrats. DeSantis had a horrible record as an environmentalist as U.S. Representative. He struggled with the concept of man-made climate change during gubernatorial campaign. He loves Trump’s policies – but not enough to let Florida’s fragile environment continue to decline.
We should applaud and encourage this transformation in the governor’s office.
We also must keep DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature on track. We can’t afford the toxic thinking our former governor and many legislators to poison our environmental efforts.
Make no mistake. An age of enlightenment has not descended upon Tallahassee. We Democrats still have work to do on healthcare for all, sensible gun legislation, reproductive rights and more.
(Note: TCPalm.com has announced a project to monitor the progress of DeSantis’ environmental agenda. You can read the first installment at this link: Report card)