If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis runs for the Presidency in 2024, he may have secured some political points with Florida's environmentalists and Everglades Park preservation advocates.
Last week, DeSantis started delivering on one of his re-election campaign promises to protect Florida's environment and water quality by committing a $3.5 billion investment over four years for the Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources project.
DeSantis signed the executive order in Lee County’s Bonita Springs, which was hit hard by Hurricane Ima last year. The $3.5 billion is the largest funding amount for environmental projects in the state's history.
“Four years ago, I promised to pursue a bold agenda and to commit to lead Florida into a new era of stewardship for Florida’s natural resources, and we delivered,” DeSantis said in a statement. "This order directs funding and strategic action that will continue our momentum and enhance our ongoing efforts to expedite critical Everglades restoration projects, employ sound science to protect and restore our waterways, and fund infrastructure projects to improve water quality and safeguard Florida’s water supply.”
Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, said the organization applauds DeSantis' commitment.
"The governor’s bold agenda will undoubtedly lead to more progress in Everglades restoration and in addressing Florida’s water quality challenges,” he said in a statement
Eikenberg said the restoration of America’s Everglades is paramount to Florida’s clean water-based economy. "A reliable source of clean fresh water for nine million South Florida residents and countless tourists is at stake, and this announcement demonstrates that Everglades restoration and Florida’s resilience remain a top priority," he said.
Anna Upton, CEO for Everglades Trust, echoed the sentiment.
"The executive order increases his funding commitment to $3.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration, water quality initiatives, and protecting water supply for Floridians,” she said. “And it includes other promises that further solidify him as America’s Everglades Governor.”
“With this renewed support and direction, Florida’s environment will remain a priority and we will continue to have the resources to bolster our long-term environmental programs," said Shawn Hamilton, secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection.
Speaking at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in December, DeSantis announced seven awards totaling $22.7 million to support water quality improvement for Biscayne Bay. The funding includes the septic-to-sewer conversion project and wetland restoration around the Bay.
“These investments to protect Biscayne Bay will improve water quality and help us preserve one of Florida’s most important natural resources for generations to come,” said DeSantis.
Though DeSantis hasn't publicly said he's going to run for the White House, after his re-election as governor in November several polls indicated he was the leading potential Republican candidate for the 2024 election. Since then, he and former President Donald Trump have topped the various polls.