- chief resilience officer
- Chris Latvala
- Chris Sprowls
- Department of Environmental Protection
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- Julia Nesheiwat
- rising sea levels
- Ron DeSantis
- SB 1954
- sea level rise
- Senate Bill 1954
- Shawn Hamilton
- Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan
- Wes Brooks
- Wesley Brooks
Despite criticizing people who use global warming rhetoric, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a quarter billion dollars in what he called a proactive approach to combat rising sea levels.
Ahead of his formal budget announcement expected later this week, the Republican Governor unveiled $276 million in proposed state funding for 76 projects as part of the Department of Environmental Protection’s first three-year environmental spending plan. The Governor expected to announce “many hundreds of millions more” in environmental spending soon.
When a reporter asked what DeSantis has done to address the root cause of global warming and rising sea levels, the Governor attacked liberal ideologies.
“What I found is, people, when they start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways,” DeSantis said. “We’re not doing any left-wing stuff. What we’re doing, though, is just reacting to the fact that, OK, we’re a flood-prone state, we do have storms.”
Instead of reacting to storms and rising waters as Florida becomes more populated and more lives are at stake, the Governor suggested the state should build stronger infrastructure.
“Be very careful of people trying to smuggle in their ideology,” DeSantis warned. “They say they support our coastline, or they say they support our water, environment. And maybe they do, but they’re also trying to do a lot of other things.”
“If you look at the price of gas now, just imagine, if they had their way, gas would be six or seven bucks a gallon, and we need to make sure people are able to have affordable energy,” he continued.
DEP submitted its first Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan as part of legislation (SB 1954) DeSantis signed into law in May. The measure, a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, asks DEP to annually develop a three-year timetable of grants to local governments to combat rising sea levels.
DEP’s three-year plan is due each year by Dec. 1.
Local communities submitted the spending requests, which the state ranked on factors like coastal and inland flooding.
The projects will amount to more than $500 million in environmental infrastructure spending when accounting for local dollars.
DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton said it’s not up for debate that Florida’s environment and economic success are intertwined. Among the points the projects will address are flooding, erosion, saltwater intrusion and stormwater management, all expected to be exacerbated by rising sea levels.
“To be ready for those changes that will occur, we must continue to plan. We must be prepared for the possibility of those impacts,” Hamilton said.
DeSantis last month appointed Wes Brooks to be Florida’s next Chief Resilience Officer, a position DeSantis created to prepare Florida for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise. Brooks’ appointment brought certainty to the role for the first time since DeSantis’ initial appointee, Julia Nesheiwat, left to join former President Donald Trump‘s administration in early 2020.
“The projects included in this statewide flooding and sea level rise resilience plan provide concrete opportunities to begin building a brighter future for all of our inland and coastal communities,” Brooks said.
DeSantis announced the budget proposal in Oldsmar at R.E. Olds Park, the site of one of the proposed projects.
R.E. Olds Park is in Sprowls’ Pinellas County district. However, Sprowls wasn’t able to attend the press conference after weather delayed the event.
“For too long, our state has been reactive in our response,” said Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala, a member of Sprowls’ House leadership team. “With the Always Ready legislation signed into law and the plan delivered today, Florida is, for the first time ever, strategic and proactive.”