By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Since taking office, Governor Ron DeSantis has surprised Florida residents on his stance regarding climate change. On April 1st, DeSantis announced his appointment for Chief Science Officer, and has also recently promoted “Ocean to Everglades” or O2E’s partnership with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee.
During his 2018 campaign, DeSantis often dodged questions on whether or not humans contribute to climate change. During his tenure as a former member of the United States House of Representatives, he voted to expand U.S. drilling operations and against a carbon tax.
According to the League of Conservation Votes, DeSantis only voted in favor of the environment in four out of a possible 204 times.
However, on his third day in office, DeSantis signed a sweeping executive order. Executive Order 19-12 also titled, “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment” implemented major reform to protect Florida’s environment and water quality.
“Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida,” said Governor DeSantis in a press release.
The order calls for $2.5 billion over the next four years to be allocated towards Everglades restoration and protection of water resources. Not only is the bill the highest level of funding for restoration in Florida’s state history, it is a $1 billion increase in spending over the previous four years.
DeSantis also plans to establish a Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Its primary focus will be on expediting progress to reduce the negative impacts of blue-green algae blooms starting immediately and in the next five years to come. The 2019 – 2020 state budget has $625 million dedicated towards Everglades restoration and clean water projects.
On April 1st, DeSantis announced his appointment for Chief Science Officer. Thomas Frazer, director of the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment, was selected. Frazer’s new responsibilities include coordinating and monitoring scientific data and analysis to identify which environmental problems must be prioritized.
Last year’s Super Bowl attendance was an estimated 70,000. In preparation, DeSantis announced the launch of “Ocean to Everglades” or O2E.
“Florida is prime for marquee sporting events and we are honored to host the Super Bowl in Miami next year,” said Governor DeSantis. “However, hosting such an event is a tremendous undertaking with a great responsibility.”
Adding, “Preserving our environment is important to many Floridians, especially in South Florida, so I am thankful to the host committee and the partners involved in this initiative for putting a plan in place to ensure that our environment will be safeguarded from our oceans to the Everglades.”
O2E partnered with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee in part of an environmental initiative with NFL Green, Ocean Conservancy and The Everglades Foundation. Their mission is to build resiliency in South Florida’s communities. Plastics, coastal protection, habitat and education are the four pillars that will serve as guidelines for O2E.
“The ocean and the Everglades are an integral part of my life and the lives of all South Floridians,” said Mike Zimmer, Miami Super Bowl Host Committee President, at a news conference.
“Naturally, as we prepared to host our record-breaking 11th Super Bowl, we knew the preservation of our unique ecosystem would be a big focus for us.”
“And we are incredibly proud to kick off an initiative that enhances the connectivity between our residents and the natural environment that surrounds the tri-county region and builds resilience across South Florida’s communities leaving a green legacy for years to come.”