Two weeks before Election Day, Donald Trump made a campaign promise during a rally in Collier County that Floridians have been hearing from politicians for years:
"A Trump administration will also work alongside you to restore and protect the beautiful Everglades,” said Trump.
The Everglades restoration isn't the only environmental issue facing Florida. Sea-level rise also remains a serious threat here.
Last week, during a meeting with the New York Times, President-Elect Trump admitted there is “some” connectivity between human activity and climate change – despite his past statements dismissing the latter as a hoax created by the Chinese government. And after pledging on the campaign trail to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump told the Times he will now keep an “open mind” about it.
WLRN Anchor Christine DiMattei talked with the Miami Herald Environmental Reporter Jenny Staletovich about how a Trump presidency might affect Florida's environment. Here are some highlights of the conversation:
WLRN: The restoration of the Everglades is the largest environmental project of its kind that the country has ever taken on. Do we have any details yet on what Trump plans to do differently than people who have dedicated decades to restoring the Glades?
Staletovich: During that campaign, Trump emphasized how important he thought infrastructure work was . I think a lot of the Everglades advocates are arguing that Everglades restoration is basically just a big infrastructure project and that it's something that he'll sign on to. He seems to want to get things done quickly. He's certainly prove that he can move aggressively on issues.
Everglades Restoration has gotten bogged down because a it's a massive project or projects and it takes the cooperation of Congress and the White House. So we'll see if he can make it happen any faster than it is.
WLRN: In a recent video address, Trump has also vowed to remove what he calls “job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy.” And that’s been raising fears for environmentalists that there will be more on-shore and off-shore drilling in Florida. How likely is it that that will happen?
Staletovich: I think that he's been very clear in how he wants to ease restrictions. He's gotten support from the oil industry. So I don't think there's any reason to believe that he's not going to push forward on that. But it's more complicated than that. There are market factors. Natural gas is very cheap. Are we going to need more oil production? Is there that much oil in Florida any way? There are lot of factors that are going to go into determining whether or not that actually happens.