Governor DeSantis to allocate $14 million in next budget for red tide crisis

Govt. Ron DeSantis says he will approve $14 million to deal with Florida’s red tide crisis when he signs the next state budget.

The Republican governor has touted his efforts to mitigate algal blooms and rising seas throughout his tenure. When the governor signs the 2022-23 budget in the coming weeks, he told reporters in Clearwater on Wednesday that he expects the state to have spent $40 million to fight the red tide under his administration. . DeSantis compared that to the $2.5 million spent during the US Sen Republican campaign. Rick Scott‘s past four years as governor.

“If you look at the four years leading up to my appointment as governor, in those four years a total of $2.5 million was allocated to red tide research and mitigation,” DeSantis said. . “Once I made this announcement today, for my four years, we went from $2.5 million to $40 million for these efforts, so we’re thrilled about that.”

Planned spending of $14 million includes $4.8 million for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute to study the red tide. There’s also $3 million this year as part of a six-year deal on Florida’s Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, a partnership between FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. .

President and CEO of Mote Marine Michael Croby said his nonprofit research lab has identified more than a dozen compounds and technologies to reduce red tide. Mote has received requests to deploy the technologies in other states and even other countries, he continued.

“Just make sure you get a really effective patent, because I want royalties for the state of Florida from all these others – I mean, we’re investing in research money, we need an edge at the end,” DeSantis joked.

Red tide blooms, caused by a species of algae common on Florida’s Gulf Coast, occur somewhere almost every year. Not only do they harm Florida’s wildlife and environment, but they also impact the tourism industry.

The blooms have worsened in recent years. Tampa Bay in July saw its the worst red tide in 50 years just months after an outage at Manatee County’s Piney Point phosphate plant spilled more than 200 million gallons of contaminated water into the bay.

Wednesday’s announcement followed his statement of $20 million in resilience grants the day before. He also signed the law codifying the Chief Resilience Officer in the Florida Statutes.

Alongside DeSantis on Wednesday, members of Florida’s legislative, environmental and tourism leadership praised him for his commitment to the environment.

house tenant Chris Sprows called DeSantis “the most pro-environmental governor in Florida history”. Additionally, he said the Legislative Assembly has been the most aggressive ever on the environment.

“We knew we had a governor that if we could just get him to budget, if we could just get him to pay the bills, that he would look into it and make sure we were the most respectful of the people. environment, that we can enjoy this water and these beaches for many years to come,” Sprows said.

Shawn Hamiltonsecretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, noted that one of DeSantis’ first acts as governor was to issue a Florida Environmental Improvement Executive Order.

“That leadership in itself allows us to move forward and make some of the changes you hear about,” Hamilton said.

While DeSantis presented himself as a leader on the environment, he also criticized most conversations about global warming as an opportunity to smuggle “left wing things.”

Florida Conservation Electors Executive Director Aliki Moncrief called the planned red tide spending commendable, adding that she should extend credit where credit is due. But she said DeSantis had ignored climate change more broadly and challenged Sprows’ characterization that he was Florida’s most pro-environmental governor.

“I think he’s the best when it comes to greenwashing,” Moncrief said. “I think he’s best at ticking some boxes.”

Most of Florida’s spending on water problems comes from federal dollars, according to Florida Conservation voters. And Moncrief pointed to the former governor. charlie christ — elected as a Republican in 2006 but currently running as a Democrat to defeat DeSantis — who convened a task force to put Florida on a clean energy path. Scott later dropped out of the task force, and DeSantis did not address the issue.

“When you have a problem that requires a 100-pound solution and you throw away a teaspoon, it’s just not enough,” Moncrief said. “A teaspoon is better than nothing.”

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