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Gov. DeSantis visits Stuart, announces plan to crack down on environmental crimes

Posted at 10:23 AM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 19:21:46-04

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Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new plan on Tuesday to crack down on environmental crimes during a visit to South Florida.

The governor held a news conference at the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Stuart where he signed a bill that creates a Division of Law Enforcement within Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.


This will allow the DEP to conduct criminal investigations into environmental crimes, instead of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"We wanted to align resources that are focused on environmental protection," said Gov. DeSantis. "That's the agency's mission, so it made sense that the agency in charge of protecting our natural resources is where you'd have the criminal enforcement."

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Officials said the DEP's Division of Law Enforcement will be made up of sworn officers.

"We understand clearly the governor expects us to enforce the laws we have," said Noah Valenstein, the Secretary of Florida's DEP.

Gov. DeSantis has made Florida's environment a top priority since taking office in January.

Back in April, he visited Hobe Sound and announced the creation of a task force to study the impacts of blue-green algae. The task force will prioritize projects to reduce nutrients in our waterways. Those nutrients can contribute to harmful algae blooms and toxic red tide.

Earlier this year, Gov. DeSantis laid out his $625 million environmental budget, which includes $400 million for Everglades restoration and $25 to combat algal blooms.