On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an executive order calling for $2.5 billion over the next four years to go toward Everglades restoration — a $1 billion increase — and the establishment of a blue-green algae task force.
The order, dubbed "Achieving More Now for Florida's Environment," promises participation in the Florida Wildlife Commission's Harmful Algae Bloom Task Force to expedite the study of red tide's causes and impacts on the environment and human health, and instructs the South Florida Water Management District to begin the next phase of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project and for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve the project in line with the state's schedule.
The order also will create the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, which will organize scientific research and analysis to keep agencies in line with the state's environmental priorities. A chief science officer will also be appointed under the order, with the goal of coordinating and prioritizing scientific data, research, monitoring and analysis in step with key environmental priorities.
"Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida," DeSantis says in a news release. "The protection of water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state. That's why today I'm taking immediate action to combat the threats which have devastated our local economies and threatened the health of our communities."
During last year's campaign, DeSantis — who was sworn into office yesterday, replacing former Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected to the U.S. Senate — called himself a "Teddy Roosevelt conservationist" and stressed that he differs philosophically with "liberal environmentalists."
During a tour of the Everglades with reporters, he noted that he's not a "climate change denier," although he also took the time to say that neither is he appreciative of the "climate change believer" label.
In Florida, however, the very fact that DeSantis made the effort to murmur the words "climate change" is arguably leaps and bounds in progress as compared to Scott, whose administration ordered Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials to not use the terms "climate change" or "global warming" in any official communications or reports, according to records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.