It’s no secret that Florida in the U.S. state that is most threatened by the climate crisis. Increased frequency and severity of storms, heat waves and rising sea levels are all conspiring to destroy a state that’s little more than a glorified sand bar.
Even a Republican governor has trouble ignoring the evidence, so it was no surprise when, on June 8, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis revealed over $500 million in additional funding for community climate for resilience in his FY 2022-23 Freedom First Budget.
“Through Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the state of Florida has become a national leader in resilience action,” said Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks. “By implementing a comprehensive, evidence-driven framework for identifying and advancing community-championed adaptation projects, Floridians can have confidence that the unprecedented resources supporting a Resilient Florida will deliver quality of life benefits for years to come.”
This investment includes more than $270 million to fully fund all three years of the state’s first ever Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan and an additional $180 million for the state’s next plan which will be submitted later this year.
The “Freedom First Budget” also includes up to $40 million for Resilient Florida Planning Grants to help communities develop and update comprehensive vulnerability assessments.
“Florida has become one of the most proactive states in the nation in addressing environmental resiliency of our communities,” said DeSantis. “Following historic funding last year, the Freedom First Budget keeps this momentum going by continuing to take strong steps to ensure state and local communities are prepared to deal with the impacts of storm surge, hurricanes, and flooding.”
With the Freedom First Budget investment, since 2019, more than $1.1 billion has been directed to enhancing the resilience of natural and built infrastructure across Florida. This includes:
- Awarding over $404 million for 113 environmental resilience projects across the state, which will help prepare coastal and inland communities for the adverse impacts of flooding and storm surge.
- Announcing the first ever Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan, which includes funding proposals for 76 infrastructure projects across the state totaling over $270 million over a three-year period.
- Awarding nearly $20 million for 98 projects across the state to develop or update comprehensive vulnerability assessments in inland and coastal communities.
“Florida’s unique natural resources demand a collaborative, balanced approach. Our resources support a diverse suite of needs and uses, and addressing those needs while ensuring conservation for future generations through policy and projects is critical,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “As a result of the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, we are better situated to tackle this mission today than ever in our state’s history.”
Building on the success of the prior three years’ investments, the Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget includes more than $500 million dedicated to increasing the resilience of Florida’s communities.
“Governor Ron DeSantis made a promise on his second day in office to do more for Florida’s environment and resiliency,” said Scott Wagner, Vice Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District.
“Thanks to the Governor’s leadership, Florida is making important investments to improve our massive flood control infrastructure that supports our way of life in South Florida along with doing more than ever before for America’s Everglades. The Governor has kept his promise to the people of Florida with record funding and the veto of Senate Bill 2508, and the South Florida Water Management District will continue our efforts to expedite restoration and infrastructure projects,” he added.
Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced that the application portal for many of the environmental grant programs is open. Portals to apply for the Wastewater Grant Program, Innovative Technologies, and Water Quality Improvements for Biscayne Bay and Springs Coast Watersheds are now open and can be found here. Portals to apply for additional programs, including the Resilient Florida Program, will be open soon.
“Governor Ron DeSantis is making good on his promise to tackle flooding and sea level rise in Florida,” said Kate Wesner, American Flood Coalition Florida Director. “From fully funding every project on the first-ever Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan to strengthening the state’s partnership with the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation at the University of South Florida, he has reassured us time and time again that sound science is driving environmental policy and action.”
In addition to championing the creation of the Resilient Florida Grant Program, Governor DeSantis created the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection at DEP to provide funding, technical assistance, and coordination among state, regional, and local entities to help support Florida’s coastal communities and he appointed the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer to coordinate the state’s resilience efforts.