Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis started following up on a marketing campaign promise to make the environment a precedence by signing an order Thursday looking for to deal with Florida’s issues with blue-green algae in its rivers and purple tide off its coast.
DeSantis signed the order in Bonita Springs in southwest Florida, one of many areas the place slimy algae has coated waterways due to pollution flowing downstream from Lake Okeechobee.
“I pledged I would take action, and today we are taking action,” DeSantis stated. “What we’ve done is really, really strong … I think this is something that can unite all Floridians.”
DeSantis stated he’ll search $2.5 billion over the subsequent 4 years for Everglades restoration and water assets. The order not solely touches on algae issues, however rising sea ranges and the continued battle with Georgia over water diverted for Atlanta’s use as an alternative of flowing downstream to Apalachicola Bay. The discount of recent water getting into the bay has harm the area’s oyster business.
Whereas critics typically stated DeSantis’ predecessor, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, ignored science and rising sea ranges, DeSantis addressed it on his second full day in workplace. He’s creating an Workplace of Resiliency tasked with defending coastal communities and wildlife from sea degree rise.
“As we’ve seen things like increased flooding (and) rising waters, we want to make sure that Florida is doing what it needs to do to protect its communities,” DeSantis stated.
The order additionally directs the Division of Environmental Safety, Division of Well being and the tourism company Go to Florida to work collectively to deal with algae issues. He’s creating the Blue-Inexperienced Algae Process Drive and the Workplace of Environmental Accountability and Transparency and a brand new place referred to as chief science officer.
One of many priorities will probably be to scale back vitamins flowing into Lake Okeechobee and to deal with them earlier than they movement downstream, the place algae feeds off the pollution.
DeSantis didn’t say the place the $2.5 billion would come from, which left Senate Democratic Chief Audrey Gibson with questions.
“Will he turn to the Trump Administration? Or will he be seeking help from the Legislature? Can our state budget handle this increase? Is the plan to cut into other programs to raise the needed funds? Will Floridians lose services in one area to offset the costs for water cleanup?” Gibson stated in a press launch.
She did, nevertheless, reward the intent behind the order.
“We share the urgency for cleaning up our water and our environment; it’s been a top priority of ours for many years. The policies of the past administration have taken a terrible toll on our natural resources, to say nothing of the impact on our marine life,” Gibson stated. “But an executive order has to have more than just lofty goals, or admirable pursuits. It has to have the details we need to judge whether these goals are doable.”
The order requires:
– $2.5 Billion over the subsequent 4 years for Everglades restoration and safety of water assets (a $1 Billion improve in spending over the earlier 4 years and the very best degree of funding for restoration in Florida’s historical past).
– The Institution of a Blue-Inexperienced Algae Activity Pressure, charged with specializing in expediting progress towards decreasing the opposed impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the subsequent 5 years.
– Instruction to the South Florida Water Administration District to right away begin the subsequent part of the Everglades Agricultural Space Storage Reservoir Challenge design and make sure the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers approves the undertaking in accordance with schedule.
– The Creation of the Workplace of Environmental Accountability and Transparency charged with organizing and directing built-in scientific analysis and evaluation to make sure that all company actions are aligned with key environmental priorities.
– The Appointment of a Chief Science Officer to coordinate and prioritize scientific knowledge, analysis, monitoring and evaluation wants to make sure alignment with present and rising environmental considerations most urgent to Floridians.
Government Order 19-12: Attaining Extra Now For Florida’s Environment
Part 1: Give attention to Speedy Enchancment for Water High quality, Amount and Provide
I hereby direct the Division of Environmental Safety (DEP), the Division of Well being (DOH) as offered in paragraph J under, and Go to Florida and the Division of Financial Alternative (DEO) as offered in paragraph L under, to take the next actions to reinforce Florida’s water high quality and protect its pure assets:
A. Safe $2.5 billion over the subsequent 4 years to spend money on Everglades restoration and defending our water assets.
B. Set up a Blue-Inexperienced Algae Activity Drive, charged with specializing in expediting progress towards decreasing the hostile impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the subsequent 5 years. This activity pressure ought to help key funding and restoration initiatives to expedite nutrient reductions in Lake Okeechobee and the downstream estuaries. This process drive ought to determine precedence tasks for funding which might be based mostly on scientific-data and construct upon Basin Administration Motion Plans to offer the most important and most significant nutrient reductions in key waterbodies, in addition to make suggestions for regulatory modifications.
C. Replace and safe all restoration plans, inside one yr, for waterbodies impacting South Florida communities, together with Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries. These updates will be sure that the Blue-Inexperienced Algae Activity Pressure has the required info to offer steerage to DEP on maximizing the investments in water high quality enhancements.
D. Instruct the South Florida Water Administration District to right away begin the subsequent part of the Everglades Agricultural Space Storage Reservoir Undertaking design and make sure the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers approves the challenge in accordance with schedule.
E. Expedite key Everglades tasks together with the C-44 reservoir and stormwater remedy space, C-43 reservoir, Tamiami Path and extra tasks crucial to guard our waterways and pure assets.
F. Work with the South Florida Water Administration District so as to add stormwater remedy to the C-43 Reservoir to offer further remedy and enhance the standard of water leaving this essential storage element.
G. Expedite tasks with the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers to enhance administration of Lake Okeechobee, together with updating the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule and figuring out water high quality remedy applied sciences to put in close to water management buildings in Lake Okeechobee.
H. Direct DEP to determine a septic conversion and remediation grant program with an area authorities match requirement.
I. Instruct all 5 water administration districts to extend transparency and accountability by offering knowledge and knowledge to DEP to help key water high quality restoration efforts. Instruct all water administration districts to evaluation budgets and prioritize obtainable funding to concentrate on tasks that may assist tackle dangerous algae blooms and maximize nutrient reductions.
J. Take part in Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee’s (FWC) Dangerous Algal Bloom Activity Pressure to offer technical experience and help learning causes and impacts of purple tide. The DOH can also be directed to take part in FWC’s Process Drive to assist research air high quality and human well being impacts of purple tide.
Okay. Proceed DEP’s purple tide emergency grant program to help native governments to wash up their seashores and coastal areas to attenuate the impacts of purple tide to residents and guests.
L. Companion with Go to Florida and DEO to determine alternatives inside communities and advocate investments in inexperienced infrastructure, corresponding to wetland remedy techniques, that profit our pure assets and native economies by growing leisure and tourism alternatives, whereas enhancing water high quality.
M. Interact native governments, business, universities and water administration districts to determine and analysis all viable various water provide sources and supply an evaluation of funding wants crucial to supporting Florida’s rising financial system. DEP ought to take all needed steps to determine recurring funding for an alternate water provide grant program to assist communities plan for and implement very important conservation, reuse and different various water provide tasks.
N. Interact native governments, business, residents and different stakeholders by means of a focused schooling and outreach marketing campaign that may concentrate on the significance of conservation and reuse efforts and encourage Floridians to implement important conservation and reuse efforts of their houses, companies and communities all through Florida.
O. Proceed to discover each choice to cease Georgia’s dangerous upstream water use from inflicting additional hostile impacts to the Apalachicola River and Bay.
Part 2: Restructuring to Give attention to Accountability, Transparency, and Science to Obtain Extra Now for Florida’s Environment
I hereby direct DEP to implement the next actions to make sure the company is making sound selections based mostly on one of the best out there science and offering for accountability and transparency:
A. Create the Workplace of Environmental Accountability and Transparency charged with organizing and directing built-in scientific analysis and evaluation to make sure that all company actions are aligned with key environmental priorities.
B. Appoint a Chief Science Officer to coordinate and prioritize scientific knowledge, analysis, monitoring and evaluation wants to make sure alignment with present and rising environmental considerations most urgent to Floridians.
C. Take all mandatory actions to maneuver the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Unit from FWC to DEP to align assets targeted on environmental safety and guarantee robust enforcement of Florida’s environmental legal guidelines.
Part three: Guarantee Florida’s Invaluable and Weak Coastlines and Pure Assets are Protected
I hereby direct DEP to implement the next actions to guard Florida’s coastlines and pure assets:
A. Create the Workplace of Resilience and Coastal Safety to assist put together Florida’s coastal communities and habitats for impacts from sea degree rise by offering funding, technical help and coordination amongst state, regional and native entities.
B. Take crucial actions to adamantly oppose all off-shore oil and fuel actions off each coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida.