Sarasota Herald – Tribune
DeSantis wants to rollback climate measures as he embraces ‘drill, baby, drill’ mentality
Zac Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune – September 20, 2023
Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed fears about climate change plunging the planet into crisis Wednesday during an event in Texas where he rolled out an energy policy platform focused on developing new sources of fossil fuels.
Once hailed by environmental advocates for his green initiatives as governor, DeSantis positioned himself Wednesday as an ardent critic of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning to renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.
“We’ve seen a concerted effort to ramp up the fear when it comes to things like global warming and climate change,” DeSantis said.
Noting that phrases like “climate crisis” and “climate emergency” have grown in use, DeSantis said: “This is driven by ideology, it’s not driven by reality. In reality, human beings are safer than ever from climate disasters.”
The comments are among DeSantis’ most aggressive and extensive in pushing back against climate change concerns, which are especially pertinent in his home state of Florida where sea level rise and stronger hurricanes fed by warming waters are a major worry for climate scientists.
President Joe Biden raised concerns about climate change making natural disasters worse after Hurricane Idalia – which rapidly intensified in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters – smashed into Florida, prompting a rebuttal from DeSantis. The governor’s energy plan is an extended rebuttal to Biden’s energy and climate policies.
DeSantis wants to end subsidies for electric vehicles and pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. He would withdraw from the Global Methane Pledge and any commitments to move toward net zero emissions, and also wants to remove the words “climate change” from some federal planning documents.
“We will also replace the phrase climate change with energy dominance in natural security and foreign policy guidance,” DeSantis said.
The governor delivered his remarks in front of an oil rig in West Texas, a major oil and gas drilling region. He promised speedy permitting of new oil and gas permits, saying his goal is to get gasoline prices down to $2 a gallon.
“We’re going to unleash our energy sector,” DeSantis said, adding: “We will green light oil and gas drilling extraction… I will demand faster approvals than any president in history. If bureaucrats are slowing down projects then those bureaucrats will lose their jobs.”
DeSantis first ran for governor in 2018 on an environmental protection platform as Florida faced a series of devastating algae blooms. Shortly after taking office he issued an executive order focused mostly on water quality initiatives, but it also incorporated efforts to help Florida prepare for climate impacts, raising hopes among environmental advocates that he would provide leadership on the issue.
DeSantis established a new state office to deal with sea level rise led by the state’s first chief resiliency officer, and pushed to fund climate mitigation efforts. His first budget proposal called for funding to address “the challenges of sea level rise, intensified storm events, and localized flooding.”
An editorial in the Tampa Bay Times lauded DeSantis as “Florida’s green governor” and said he “has done more to protect the environment and tackle climate change in one week than his predecessor did in eight years.”
Leading environmental activists hoped DeSantis would go beyond preparing Florida for the impacts of climate change and take strong actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which are released by burning fossil fuels and create a greenhouse effect when they accumulate in the atmosphere, warming the planet.
DeSantis touted Florida’s heavy reliance on natural gas as an energy source Wednesday, noting it produces lower emissions than coal. But environmental activists have been disappointed by the state’s energy policies and have pushed for emissions-free sources.
‘Green governor’ to ‘active hostility’: DeSantis’ shifting climate change politics
DeSantis questioned the dependability of some energy sources.
“We will not rely on unproven technologies that lead to blackouts… we need reliable energy in this country,” he said, adding: “When disaster strikes, when you need to get people’s electricity back on I can’t rely on windmills, I need oil and gas to get the job done.”