Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s environmental policies in the second consecutive GOP primary debate Wednesday, calling the governor “a liberal when it comes to the environment.”
Haley made the remarks in response to a question about the reimposition of sanctions on Venezuelan oil, which prompted DeSantis to accuse the Biden administration of “going hat in hand” to foreign regimes rather than relying on domestic production.
In response, Haley also said she would reimpose sanctions but hit DeSantis on his governmental record, calling him “a liberal when it comes to the environment” and accusing him of “[banning] fracking” as governor. She pointed to the Sierra Club praising DeSantis for his moves as governor to conserve the Everglades, although the environmental group has otherwise been a vocal DeSantis critic, assigning him a grade of D- on environmental issues.
DeSantis, in response, defended his efforts to preserve the Everglades, which he has rarely mentioned on the campaign trail but which he touts on the official website of the governor’s office.
The two sparred on the issue in the second GOP debate in September as well. Florida banned offshore drilling in a ballot initiative in 2018, and DeSantis said he would press the state Legislature to ban fracking in campaign materials, calling it “a danger to our state” due to its geological makeup.
DeSantis has frequently downplayed the threat of climate change, saying “let’s have the debate” as to humans’ role in it at the first GOP debate despite the consensus of 97 percent of scientists. The Florida governor has taken steps to improve resilience in the hurricane-prone state but has pledged to ramp up fossil fuel production as president, and he accused Democrats and environmentalists of “[ramping] up the fear” on the issue.
The GOP front-runner, former President Trump, has outright denied the existence of climate change, falsely claiming it is a “hoax.” Trump was not present at Wednesday’s debate.