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DeSantis, at scene of South FL flooding, dismisses talk of ‘climate ideology’

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DeSantis, at scene of South FL flooding, dismisses talk of ‘climate ideology’

Jun 14, 2024 | 1:57 pm ET
By Michael Moline
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DeSantis, at scene of South FL flooding, dismisses talk of ‘climate ideology’
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Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Hollywood on June 14, 2024. Flanking him are state emergency manager Kevin Guthrie (left) and Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis defended his skepticism of climate change Friday while touring South Florida neighborhoods suffering heavy flooding after storms dropped as many as 20 inches of rainfall within 24 hours over the region.

“We don’t want our climate policy driven by climate ideology. When that happens, people pay more and the energy is less reliable,” the governor said during a news conference in a Hollywood fire station.

In May, DeSantis signed legislation (HB 1645) erasing mention of “climate change” from state statutes and emphasizing reliance on the fossil fuels widely blamed for the global warming that, according to climate scientists, has been raising temperatures and feeding stronger storms.

The governor defended the law on Friday.

“It wasn’t about saying or not saying climate change. It was a substantive piece of legislation to say that in the state of Florida our energy policy is going to be driven by affordability for Floridians and reliability,” he said.

His priority following a storm is to “get the lights back on.”

“Whatever you choose in that, it isn’t going to prevent us from having tropical weather during tropical season. That’s just baked in the cake,’ DeSantis said.

Notwithstanding the governor’s assertion, solar and wind power has been growing steadily more reliable, in part due to improvements in battery technology. Texas’ reliance on natural gas, meanwhile, has been blamed for massive power failures during the winter storm of 2021, when gas facilities froze in sub-zero weather, according to Phoenix partner the Texas Tribune.

State of emergency

DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, citing flooding of roads including Interstate 95, plus airports, schools, and other infrastructure. The situation was caused by Invest 90L, a tropical system that passed through the region and now is located off the southeastern United States.

The National Hurricane Center also is monitoring a tropical depression in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Similar flooding afflicted South Florida in April 2023, when some 20 inches of rain inundated Broward County, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters, pointing to high ocean temperatures, have predicted a heavier-than-normal hurricane season through Nov. 30, with four to seven major storms in the Atlantic Basin.

State emergency managers sent pumps, food, water, and water barriers to South Florida to help resident cope. The Florida State Guard, the militia DeSantis persuaded the Legislature to create, has been deployed, the governor said.

Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie urged residents against driving or wading through flood waters. “Some of that water may very well be contaminated. So please, do not walk through it or allow your children to play in it,” Guthrie said.

DeSantis appeared to minimize the significance of the storms.

“This clearly is not unprecedented. You go back through Florida history, we’ve had events like this, uh, going back decades of recorded history,” he said. They cause more damage now because more of the state has been developed than before, the governor added.