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Ron DeSantis issues executive order on Florida’s environment

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday called for the “appointment of a Chief Science Officer” and “creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency” in a new executive order.

He also wants lawmakers to dole out “$2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources.”

The newly-elected Ponte Vedra Beach Republican spoke in Bonita Springs at the first of three water policy announcements throughout the state.

“Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida,” DeSantis said.

“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.”

According to highlights from the Governor’s Office, Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment) calls for:

— “$2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources (a $1 billion increase in spending over the previous four years and the highest level of funding for restoration in Florida’s history).

— “The Establishment of a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, charged with focusing on expediting progress toward reducing the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years.

— “Instruction to the South Florida Water Management District to immediately start the next phase of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project design and ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves the project according to schedule.

— “The Creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency charged with organizing and directing integrated scientific research and analysis to ensure that all agency actions are aligned with key environmental priorities.

— “The Appointment of a Chief Science Officer to coordinate and prioritize scientific data, research, monitoring and analysis needs to ensure alignment with current and emerging environmental concerns most pressing to Floridians.”

This story is developing. Florida Politics correspondent Jacob Ogles is with the Governor in Bonita Springs.

Updated at noon: Ogles’s full report is here.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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