TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Following up on a campaign promise to make the environment a priority, Governor Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order which addresses the Everglades and algae blooms.
He also called for the immediate resignations of all governing board members of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
“One of the recommendations that Congressman Mast has provided to me was that we really need a fresh start at the South Florida Water Management District and so today I have sent correspondence to all of the board members, thanking them for their service but requesting their resignation,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
The executive order calls for $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources. That’s a billion dollar increase in spending over the previous four years.
It also instructs 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.
“After decades of delay, Governor DeSantis has today placed Florida on a trajectory to complete the EAA Reservoir, not in 10 years, but in four. He has clearly heard the cries of Floridians who have had enough of perennial algae outbreaks, and to scientists and engineers who confirm that construction of the reservoir will reduce algae-causing Lake Okeechobee discharges by more than half. We applaud him for directing the state’s resources to immediately commence design of the reservoir, with construction to begin on schedule,” said Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg in a statement.
The order also calls for the creation of a Blue-Green Algae Task Force and an Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency.
The task for will be in charge of “expediting progress toward reducing the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years.”
The environmental accountability office will be charged with “organizing and directing integrated scientific research and analysis to ensure that all agency actions are aligned with key environmental priorities.”
Another office it creates, the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, will prepare Florida’s coastal communities for impacts from rising sea levels by providing funding, technical assistance and coordination among state, regional and local entities.
“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,” said DeSantis in a statement.
The order calls for the appointment of a Chief Science Officer who will coordinate and prioritize scientific data, research, and analysis needs to align with current and emerging environmental concerns most pressing to Floridians.
Under the measure, state officials are ordered to take any necessary action to stop all off-shore oil and gas activities off Florida’s coastlines along with hydraulic fracturing.