The environmental charges against the Republican governor are serious enough. But this time, the Sierra Club expanded its scorecard to include issues related to “freedom” and “democracy.”
The Sierra Club, an influential grassroots environmental organization in the US, released its scorecard on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first term as governor, assigning him a “D-” grade for the Republican’s “refusal to address the climate crisis at its root, [which] has left Floridians at increased risk of more destructive and powerful storms.”
“More intense and frequent storms like Hurricane Ian, increased flooding, and loss of access to insurance are just a few of the ways climate change is impacting Florida,” said Emily Gorman, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director. “Climate change is affecting Floridians now. We need a governor who is willing to lead, not a politician spending taxpayer dollar on political stunts that harm real people,” she added, in what may be an allusion to DeSantis flying nearly 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, professing that Florida lawmakers gave him $12 million for such transports, a claim which is currently under investigation by Bexar, Texas County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat.
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The Sierra Club also considered DeSantis’ failure to heed the recommendations of the state’s own Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and his refusal to take action to protect the Everglades through investment in necessary restoration.
An Alarming Record
The scorecard from the environmental group reviewed the Republican’s actions on 23 bills across his tenure, including:
- Signing a preemption bill that blocks clean air and clean energy in the transportation sector by locking local communities into current fossil fuel dependence.
- Misappropriating $50 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund into Lake Okeechobee aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) wells which delays Everglades wetlands restoration.
- Tilting the legal playing field in favor of Big Sugar and against residents suffering health impacts from sugar cane burning’s smoke and ash, making it more difficult for Palm Beach County residents to win a class-action lawsuit against Big Sugar.
- Filing on behalf of Florida Power & Light to reduce monthly savings that rooftop solar owners would earn for power sent to the grid.
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Democracy in Danger
The environmental charges against DeSantis are serious enough. But this time, the Sierra Club expanded its scorecard to include issues related to “freedom” and “democracy,” citing how the Republican governor pushed “his own illegal congressional map through the Florida State Legislature,” a move which the Sierra Club calls a “racial gerrymander which clearly favors his party and diminishes the ability of racial and language minorities to elect representatives of their choice.”
A Failing Grade
“Looking at the governor’s record on the environment, climate change, conservation or democracy, it is clear that DeSantis has failed,” said Luigi Guadarrama, Sierra Club Florida political director. “Instead of taking action to protect Florida’s families, homeowners, and environment, DeSantis has dismissed all criticism as ‘left-wing rhetoric’ and left Floridians to literally foot the bill, whether it be through rate hikes by utilities or skyrocketing insurance premiums.”