Saying he “will be a champion for protecting our environment on day one” of his administration, Republican nominee for governor, Ron DeSantis,on Wednesday laid out his environmental policy that he would implement as governor. The DeSantis campaign says the four point plan will focus on Florida’s water quality and quantity.
Among other things, the plan calls for restoring the Everglades, preventing offshore oil drilling, banning fracking and stopping the toxic algae blooms in South Florida.
DeSantis, who is scheduled to tour the Everglades later on Wednesday, says in addition to restoring the Everglades, his four point plan calls for the protection of Florida’s beaches, protecting and expanding the state’s water supply, and protecting state parks, lands, springs and air.
“Ron DeSantis will focus on our state’s water quality and quantity, which includes our beautiful springs, diverse wetland systems, and winding tributaries,” the DeSantis campaign said in a news release unveiling the environmental program. “Decisions regarding Florida’s environment will be made based on sound scientific evidence and not political rhetoric or special interest desires. Ron DeSantis will lead with an approach that keeps our state beautiful for generations to come.”
DeSantis says the Everglades restoration program would put an emphasis on the creation of a southern reservoir to hold water coming off Lake Okeechobee. His plan also calls for completing projects in the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) and Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). DeSantis says once those projects are completed, discharges from Lake Okeechobee will be reduced by 63 percent.
His plan to protect Florida’s beaches includes a ban on offshore oil drilling and creating a task force to finds answers to the problem of red tide. He says he will also ask the Legislature to enact a ban on fracking to protect the state’s water supply.
DeSantis’ plan would also establish a program to restore Florida’s springs and protect them from nitrogen pollution. DeSantis says he would not only use trust funds from Amendment 1, passed in 2014, for prospective land acquisitions, but also for restoration of current conservation lands.
The Republican nominee’s environmental plan brought quick criticism from the Florida Democratic Party which called DeSantis “a sham environmentalist” who has spent “his time in D.C. gutting clean water protections, allowing corporations to pollute our water, and supporting Donald Trump, Rick Scott and Scott Pruitt’s attacks on our environment.”
A spokesman for Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum questioned the sincerity of DeSantis’ environmental program.
“Ron DeSantis marched in lockstep with Donald Trump in Washington, and when he’s Governor, he’ll help the special interests continue their stranglehold on our environment,” said Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s communications director. “Mayor Gillum’s walked the walk on key environmental issues like opening a new 120 acre solar farm, voting to ban fracking, and making the City of Tallahassee a greener city.”