Gov. DeSantis vetoes Environmental Resources bill, highlights environmental initiatives

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
FILE: Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at Doc Ford’s near Fort Myers Beach. Credit: WINK News

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Doc Ford’s on San Carlos Island on Wednesday to highlight a $1.2 billion investment for water quality and Everglades restoration.

DeSantis spoke near Fort Myers Beach on Wednesday to talk about the passage of the recent state budget.

Businesses hope the investment will help them avoid another year like 2018 when they were plagued by water quality issues.

DeSantis was joined at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton and Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks.

The influx of cash will also be spent on Florida’s springs, state parks, infrastructure after major storms, blue-green algae and red tide prevention.

“I remember coming here before I was governor 2018, some of these communities, you know, and you got hit, it hurt the tourism, it hurt the restaurants, it hurt the overall economy,” DeSantis said.

That was in the aftermath of Irma.

Local conservation group Captains for Clean Water joined the governor at the podium.

“The shrimpers, the restaurants, the hotels, our whole economy here. It’s, it has a bright future because we’re gonna have clean water,” said Capt. Daniel Andrews.

But as much money as the governor’s pumped into Southwest Florida water, it’s still not completely clean.

There are polluted rivers, septic tank and fertilizer runoff and discharges from Lake Okeechobee and more.

Captains for Clean Water’s Chris Wittman said with continued funding from the state and the feds, he believes all of Southwest Florida’s water will improve.

“That’s where we’re really going to see progress. Everglades restoration is a 50/50 cost share between the state and the federal government,” Wittman said. “We need to fund these projects as soon as possible.”

Water advocates also celebrated DeSantis’ decision to veto SB 2508 Environmental Resources bill passed by the legislature.

Those in favor of the bill demanded the South Florida Water Management District get special certifications before spending state dollars.

But opponents, like Captains for Clean Water, said the bill would essentially sacrifice coastal communities and undo years of Everglades restoration progress.

“It’s probably the best news I’ve heard since my baby Tuck was born,” Wittman said. “His veto today sends a very strong message to the legislature that the citizens are watching, and the governor is listening.”

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