The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently rolled out a gushing press release on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed environmental budget for various state land and water-related programs.
Some of it is good as far as it goes, but it simply doesn’t go far enough.
The most glaring gap was DeSantis’ proposal to spend a mere $50 million for the Florida Forever program. That is half what was in last year’s proposed budget, It is still only a fraction of the $300 million the program should get by rights under a constitutional amendment and would have if it were not for the obstructionism and antagonism of DeSantis and his allies in the Florida Legislature.
Some of the funds touted, such as $40 million to fund development of alternative water supplies, is aimed at efforts to keep the growth machine going in the face of the facts that unsustainable growth has caused overexploitation of the state’s natural resources.
There is money for continued work on Everglades restoration, some money for springs protection and combatting harmful algae blooms, which is all to the good.
There is also now $180 million proposed to deal with sea level rise as state officials finally begin to take the resiliency issue seriously, but there’s also money to deal with the errors of past coastal development policies. The most notable expenditure in this category is $30 million for beach renourishment.
Finally, there is $145 million for dealing with water pollution, though how effective that will be unless it is coupled with stronger pollution source reduction regulations and enforcement of those regulations remains to be seen.
FDEP officials sent out a follow-up press release that included quotes from various organizations praising the budget.
It is worth noting that Florida Sierra and a number of other state environmental organizations were not among them.