Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is touting his environmental platform, which his campaign released this week.
DeSantis’ environmental plan may read as bold after eight years of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s environmental talking points. DeSantis’ platform promises to centralize all water quality oversite under the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, prevent offshore drilling and ban fracking in the state.
The plan also emphasizes preservation of beaches and restoring the Everglades. That has impressed former Florida Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Ron Bergeron.
“Ron DeSantis has been in my office multiple times for hours all about the Everglades,” Bergeron said. “It showed a deep interest in our environment.”
In a release announcing his ecological platform, DeSantis’ campaign says environmental decisions will be made “based on sound scientific evidence.” But during a tour of the Everglades, DeSantis told reporters he doesn’t want to be associated with talk of global warming.
“I would say, human activity contributes to changes in the environment – I am not a global warning person, I don’t want that label on me,” DeSantis said.
Aliki Moncrief is executive director of Florida Conservation Voters. In a conference call hosted by the Florida Democratic Party, Moncrief blasted DeSantis’ platform.
“It’s as if he wants credit for things he actually would not be able to control as governor, while at the same time throwing up his hands on the things he could control as governor,” Moncrief said, using the example of DeSantis’ claim he would stop offshore drilling:
“He can’t control drilling in Federal waters. Oil drilling in federal waters, actually there’s already a ban 125 miles out, that’s going to last until 2022. That’s actually a plan that (Desantis’) friend – that’s his words – Trump, wants to do away with that. He wants to expand drilling, not just in Florida, but throughout the country.”
Moncrief added what the governor can do is transform the state’s climate change policies. Her organization has endorsed Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race, calling him a “strong, pro-environment leader.”
Gillum this week released a digital video outlining his environmental stances, emphasizing air and water quality.
“The governor’s job, first and foremost, is to do what is in the interest of all the people of the State of Florida, not just the well-heeled and the well-connected,” Gillum says in the video. “We’ve got to put some environmental protection back into the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.”
A debate between the two gubernatorial candidates has not yet been set.