Gov. DeSantis: Stop the Red Tide Greenwash Redux

SARASOTA, FL–In response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement last week regarding his commitment to allocate nearly $14 million from this year’s budget for red tide research and innovative mitigation technologies, Cris Costello, Sierra Club Florida Senior Organizing Manager, released a statement:

“When Governor DeSantis recently announced the devotion of $14 million of taxpayer money for yet another control/mitigation/research/clean-up scheme, Sierra Club Florida decided it was time, yet again, to call the Governor’s bluff.  Nine months ago the Sierra Club put the Governor on notice with a letter titled “Stop the Greenwash and Hold Polluters Accountable” but alas, Ron DeSantis has made a huge meal out of greenwashing his failure to stop pollution at its source, and the unsuspecting are likely to buy the Governor’s sales pitch.

We want to set the record straight (again).  Per media sources, state officials claim that Florida has invested $40 million to detect and mitigate red tide since 2019.  This has put a lot of money into the coffers of Mote Marine Laboratory, but has it stopped the pollution that fuels Red Tide, cyanobacteria, and other toxic algae?  The answer is an ear-splitting, cough-inducing “no.”

If you understand anything about what gives rise to or exacerbates toxic algae outbreaks, you know that another $14 million to research/control/mitigation/clean-up is nothing to celebrate, and in fact is a loss for Floridians.  There is only so much money to spend in the state budget and taxpayer money spent on after-the-fact ‘clean-up’ projects cannot then be spent on proven measures to stop the sewage, manure, and fertilizer pollution from being dumped into our lakes, rivers, bays, and springsheds.

The never-ending control/mitigation/cleanup treadmill not only fails to remedy the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) problem, but actually makes it worse by letting more time pass without regulating the pollution that fuels HABs.

It bears repeating:  

  1. The Governor DeSantis administration’s failure to implement or even encourage or promote stopping pollution at its source makes our repeatedly toxic waterways inevitable.

  2. The science is clear:  Human activity intensifies red tide blooms.

  3. Control and mitigation research and technologies and states of emergencies keep taxpayers on the “clean-up” treadmill, but do nothing to stop pollution at its source; you never get anywhere on a treadmill but rather you just spend your resources standing still.

  4. ‘After-the-fact’ attention to harmful algal outbreaks is not what Florida needs.

  5. Until pollution is stopped at its source, polluters will go on setting taxpayers up for a never-ending series of costly clean-ups.

  6. It is time for Governor DeSantis to exchange the greenwash for direct, enforced, restorative regulatory action.”