Ron DeSantis’ new era of environmental stewardship

As a lifelong Florida scientist and environmentalist, I am dismayed by the governor’s boast in his inaugural address that he has ushered in a “new era of stewardship of Florida’s natural resources” when we face many serious unresolved problems harming Floridians and our economy.

In 2022, Florida topped the list of the most polluted lakes (900,000 acres) in the United States according to a study by the Environmental Integrity Project using data from the Environmental Protection Agency. We are ranked second in the number of acres of polluted estuaries. In 2019, Florida ranked second nationally in the number of people affected by violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Manatees are starving in India River Lake because the state has not seriously addressed water quality problems, which the governor’s blue-green algae task force highlighted in 2019. Drainage of nitrogen-laden water is killing seaweeds that manatees depend on for food.

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