In laying out his environmental platform last month, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis said that he would push to ban fracking and offshore drilling within state waters, moves that the environmental community has been advocating for years in Florida.
But now one of those groups, Food & Water Watch, is questioning if DeSantis would ever follow through with those measures because of the support he’s receiving from Associated Industries of Florida, a powerful lobbying group that represents big business. The group – which endorsed DeSantis – collects big contributions from utility companies for campaign donations.
AIF has aggressively opposed legislative efforts in the past two years to ban fracking in Florida. And the group is opposing Amendment 9 on next month’s ballot that would ban offshore drilling within state waters.
“Voters have become acutely aware of how corporate special interests play a disproportionate role in influencing water, energy and environmental policy,” reads a statement from Food & Water Action. “News reports in the past weeks have described how DeSantis has pledged not to take money from Big Sugar, a major culprit in the algae blooms that have been contaminating Florida’s water. But AIF has meanwhile been receiving sugar industry money that has also benefited DeSantis’s campaign.”
In addition, Food & Water Action says that Florida’s biggest investor-owned public utilities that support fracking have given millions this year to political committees that are controlled by AIF. Those committees support numerous candidates, including DeSantis.
The group says it wants DeSantis to “show he’s committed to his policy positions by asking him to renounce AIF money and any other funds from the energy industry.”
DeSantis’s Democratic opponent in the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has signed Food & Water Action’s pledge against accepting any “Big Oil & Gas” campaign funding.
The DeSantis campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.