New Florida Gov Ron DeSantis Kind Of Good On Environment? Eh What Huh???
Mother Jones brings us a truly surprising story about Ron DeSantis, the rightwing schmuck who rode a bunch of racist dog whistles into office over Andrew Gillum last fall. DeSantis had a shitty environmental voting record in Congress and refused during the campaign to even answer whether he accepts the scientific reality of climate change, instead saying he didn't think anyone should be an "alarmist" about it. But a whole three months and change into his gubernatorialship, DeSantis has so far failed to be an exploding crude oil hauling trainwreck on environmental issues. Already, DeSantis has done better than Rick Scott did in eight years. That bar is lower than the sub-basement of "Cheers," but DeSantis made it over!
Frank Jackalone, head of the Florida chapter of the Sierra Club and a man who clearly had a terrible time in middle school, says nobody would have expected anything less than full-on horribleness from DeSantis:
He had an abysmal voting record in Congress [...] He voted against the environment 98 percent of the time. That's bad, even for a Republican, considering that he was in Congress for six years.
And yet so far DeSantis has actually taken some action on environmental issues. Of the helpful kind, we mean, not monkeying up regulations on polluters.
Jackalone suggested it's probably at least in part because nearly everyone agrees that the toxic disaster of red tides -- toxic algae blooms that have devastated marine life in coastal areas -- were simply too big to ignore (unless you are Rick Scott). DeSantis, like most candidates in both parties, refused to accept donations from the sugar industry, which has been blamed for the runoff that may contribute to red tides. But beyond that, he openly criticized the industry, which may actually require Florida Republicans to go to confession, even if they're not Catholic. (Big Sugar, we non-Floridians know, is the baddie in Carl Hiaasen's Strip Tease, and some of the best passages in the novel -- and Hiaasen's journalism -- are his rants against the environmental crimes of sugar plantations.)
DeSantis published an op-ed just before his inauguration promising he would prioritize
environmental issues like water quality and cleaning the environmental mess that has resulted in toxic blue-green algae and exacerbated red tide around the state [...] We will put Everglades restoration into high gear and make it the reality that Floridians have been promised for three decades.
Then once he was in office, he issued an executive order that actually committed to doing stuff, calling for
-- $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration over four years—the highest level of funding for Everglades restoration in the state's history, according to the governor's office.
-- the Department of Environmental Protection to "adamantly oppose" offshore drilling and fracking in Florida.
-- a blue-green algae task force to reduce "the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years."
-- two new government offices, one for "environmental accountability and transparency," the other for "resilience and coastal protection."
-- a chief science officer "to coordinate and prioritize" data and research "to ensure alignment with current and emerging environmental concerns most pressing to Floridians."
MoJo notes the order definitely does not use the words "climate change" and certainly doesn't say humans done it, but it nonetheless calls for creating an "Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection" that would help mitigate the effects of that phenomenon that shall not be named, by helping
prepare Florida's coastal communities and habitats for impacts from sea level rise by providing funding, technical assistance and coordination among state, regional and local entities
Heck, if he wants to do a tax credit for solar and wind power and name it after Ronald Reagan, we'd be fine with that, too.
MoJo notes DeSantis's budget also reflects real environmental action, even. WEIRD:
His suggested $91.3 billion 2019-20 budget, released in late January, called for $625 million for Everglades restoration and clean water projects (including support of the blue-green algae task force), which would put his administration on track to meet the promised $2.5 billion over four years. (It remains to be seen how much money will pass in the budget bills in the state legislature.)
We checked the timestamp on the article, and yes, it was published yesterday, not a week earlier.
DeSantis even appointed a real live scientist, Thomas Frazer, as his "chief science officer." Frazier, head of the U of Florida's School of Natural Resources and Environment, actually says climate change is real and humans caused it -- openly, in a newspaper, where people could see it was him! He even goes out in public after having written the word "ecosystems" more than once. It is unclear whether DeSantis has ordered a 24/7 security detail for Frazer.
Mind you, it will take a while for DeSantis to really convince anyone he's doing more than a bare minimum for the environment, and plenty of skeptics point out that "doing more than Rick Scott" is hardly a heavy lift. Remember, that dude banned state employees from even saying the words "climate change." Then again, let's not get too excited here -- DeSantis's office also "did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Mother Jones," because darned if he's about to go on the record as a traitor to his entire party -- if he is at all.
So hey, one cautious cheer for Ron DeSantis! When Republicans do good things, we like to provide reinforcement! Good Ron! Also, we'll be watching you; you'd better not Milkshake Duck on the environment.
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