The Florida Democratic Party dismissed Gov. Ron DeSantis as a “sham environmentalist” over his silence on drilling in the Everglades.
The slam comes after an appeals court ordered the state to issue a controversial permit for Kanter Real Estate to drill an oil well west of Miramar.
“Ron DeSantis’ silence on the latest court ruling expanding oil drilling in the Everglades is a profile in cowardice,” said FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe. “Instead of standing up to big polluters like he promised, Ron DeSantis is silent.”
The First Court of Appeal in Tallahassee last week said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection must issue the permit.
The court order singled out an “abuse of discretion” by DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, who was appointed by past Gov. Rick Scott but remains in the position.
“The Secretary improperly relied on an unadopted rule which would in practice prohibit all exploratory oil drilling in the Everglades, without statutory authority,” wrote Chief Judge Bradford Thomas.
Kanter Real Estate held plans to drill an exploratory well on a five-acre site west of U.S. 27 and south of Alligator Alley, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The well could produce an estimated 180,000 to 10 million barrels of oil.
Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam signaled his locality would continue the legal fight against the permit, even if it must do so alone.
“Proud to lead the opposition to oil drilling in our backyard. You will always know where I stand,” Messam tweeted Saturday.
Florida has not issued an exploratory permit in the Everglades since 1967.
DeSantis while running for governor said he opposed drilling in the Everglades. But his silence following the court ruling put critics on the attack. The Republican won the governor’s mansion in November by a 0.4-percent margin over Democrat Andrew Gillum.
“DeSantis should be using his bully pulpit to denounce the destruction of Florida’s natural heritage,” Donohoe said.
“Instead, DeSantis is once again carrying water for special interests. DeSantis’ silence speaks volumes about his allegiance to the fossil fuel industry.”