GOP Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said blaming climate change for last week’s devastation caused by Hurricane Idalia is “a lie.”
Over 280,000 businesses and homes in Florida were without power Wednesday, according to data from PowerOutage.us, as Idalia slammed Florida in the Big Bend region.
President Joe Biden has said climate change has been at fault for natural disasters like Idalia, which landed as a Category 3 hurricane in Florida.
Governor DeSantis disagreed.
“I think that the notion that somehow hurricanes are something new, that’s just false. And we’ve got to stop politicizing the weather and stop politicizing natural disasters,” said DeSantis while speaking Sunday in Yankeetown, Florida.
DeSantis then stated Florida has seen “very busy” periods with “significant hurricanes” during the past few decades.
“I think sometimes people need to take a breath and get a little bit of perspective here,” said DeSantis. “But the notion that somehow if we just adopt very left-wing policies at the federal level, that somehow we will not have hurricanes, that is a lie.”
“And that is people trying to take what’s happened with different types of storms and use that as a pretext to advance their agenda on the backs of people that are suffering, and that’s wrong, and we’re not going to do that in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis was asked about Biden’s “climate change” comments
Governor DeSantis, who trails former President Donald Trump by a substantial margin in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, was asked about President Biden’s “climate change” comments.
“I think if you look, there was a storm that went on this almost exact track in 1896. And it had 125-mile-an-hour winds just like this one,” said DeSantis.
“If you look at the state of Florida, the most powerful storm, hurricane we’ve ever had is. Actually, the anniversary is now — it’s the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. It had 185-mile-an-hour sustained winds.”
Governor DeSantis declined to join President Biden when he visited Florida over the weekend. He suggested that Biden’s presence might hinder disaster response efforts.
The governor has put his campaign trail work on hold to direct the cleanup from Idalia, which became a Category 4 storm and slammed into northern Florida last week, leaving at least two dead in the state.
According to preliminary analysis, storm damage is estimated to cost between $18 billion and $20 billion.
President Biden again raised climate change concerns two days before his Saturday visit to the state to tour the wreckage.
“There’s still some deniers out there in terms of whether or not climate change had anything to do with this, and we’re gonna need a whole hell of a lot more money,” said Biden.
President Biden has vowed to send federal resources to Florida, pushing for Congress to replenish federal disaster aid funds.
Although DeSantis has been skeptical about doing “left-wing stuff” to mitigate climate change, he has taken steps previously to shore up Florida’s infrastructure for extreme weather events.
In 2021, DeSantis rolled out “Always Ready Florida” three-year plan to spend about $270 million on projects across the start to combat extreme weather phenomenon and flooding.
When DeSantis was asked Monday how much faith he had in federal governments to assist with cleanup efforts, he underscored the state’s preparations.
“I think that the state of Florida, we prepare for this stuff. We were prepared. We responded,” replied DeSantis. “And really, what the federal government’s role is just turning on programs Congress has enacted over many, many years. So, it’s basically serving as a checkbook to get people reimbursed for debris cleanup.”
“I anticipate that that will go smoothly, but most of the nuts and bolts is done by our local communities and by the state of Florida,” said DeSantis. “And that’s really how it should be. Disaster response is really bottom up.”