DeSantis rejects climate change justification for record flooding

Rain has become political in Florida.

As South Florida residents and businesses assess the damage from this week’s historic rainfall and flooding, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration have pushed back against claims that the storm had anything to do with climate change.

A number of records were set when the storm known as Invest 90L flooded roads from Sarasota to West Palm Beach.

The Republican governor declared a state of emergency in South Florida, but at a news conference Friday he downplayed the idea that the storm was unusual. He said there had been similar events “going back decades”.

“It’s clearly not unprecedented,” he said. “I think the difference is that, if you compare 50 to 100 years ago to today, there are just a lot more things that have been developed, so there are a lot more effects than this type of event can have.”

Its communications team also made light of the storm, calling it typical summer rain. Christina Pushaw, the governor’s former press secretary and now a state analyst, wrote on X: “Welcome to the rainy season. South Florida is in the tropics. There will be thunderstorms over the next 4 to 5 months.

No storm-related deaths were reported, but some communities experienced waist-deep flooding and residents had to be rescued.

The brouhaha over how to characterize the storm came a month after DeSantis signed a bill that removes most references to climate change in state law. The legislation, set to take effect July 1, eliminates climate change as a priority in energy policy decisions, even though Florida regularly faces threats from extreme heat, deadly hurricanes and algae blooms. toxic.

Florida Democrats, in turn, attacked DeSantis’ team for diminishing storms just as hurricane season begins. The season began June 1, and forecasters predict it could be one of the most active on record. They also noted that DeSantis signed a state budget this week that approves about $205 million in stormwater, wastewater and sewer projects across the state.

“Living in Florida, what we’re seeing now is not just the same kind of weather that’s been happening for a thousand years,” the state representative said. Daryl Campbell, a Democrat whose district is in Broward County. “We’re seeing the impacts of climate change on our everyday lives, and we’re seeing a governor who is looking at unanimously passed legislation to help address it. »

Last month, a record heat wave enveloped the state, with Temperatures reaching 115 degrees in Key West. The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record in several Florida cities.

DeSantis and his administration scoff at critics who say the state should do more to combat climate change.

“What amazes me about the current debate over the weather in Florida is that the left seems to believe that @GovRonDeSantis can control the amount of rain, but he simply refuses to use his power to do so,” said writes DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern on X.

The storm arrived 14 months after another “rain bomb” hit South Florida, falling 22.5 inches on Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in one day. Last year’s storm knocked out the city’s main hospital except for emergency procedures, shorted electrical equipment at City Hall and left thousands of travelers stranded.

This system and this week’s deluge bear the imprint of human-caused climate change. In a warmer world, the atmosphere can hold more moisture. This means that precipitation rates become heavier and extremes become more frequent.

When DeSantis vetoed storm-related projects this week, he said local governments could instead find money from the state Department of Environmental Regulation. He also highlighted his resiliency budget, which includes more than $1.2 billion for projects such as $17.8 million to improve the “technology infrastructure” of the new Emergency Operations Center. State.

DeSantis has pledged to focus on energy affordability rather than climate change. The law he signed in May bans offshore wind turbines and weak regulations on gas pipelines.

“We don’t want our energy policy to be driven by climate ideology,” DeSantis said Friday. “When this happens, people pay more and energy is less reliable. »

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