Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Says No Thanks to $377 Million in Federal Energy Funds

Florida GOP Republican Governor 2024 Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis quietly rejected hundreds of millions of dollars in federal energy funding while the Biden administration touted the benefits of its marquee climate law on the campaign trail in battleground states.

The funding, which totals around $377 million, included hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for energy-efficiency rebates and electrification as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as money from the bipartisan infrastructure legislation that became law in 2021.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’s Office of Energy notified the Energy Department last month that it was “respectfully” withdrawing applications for funding after DeSantis issued a line-item veto for a $5 million federal grant for the state to establish programs to distribute the rebates.

The move comes as President Joe Biden and others have taken to the road to show how funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, along with other administration policies are helping GOP states, as every Republican voted against approving his signature climate law — which included $374 billion in funding for tax credits and clean-energy programs.

It also comes amid GOP backlash against “woke” energy-efficiency standards, including Gov. DeSantis, who has proposed spending millions of dollars to put in place tax credits for gas stoves.

A Florida government official said the $5 million in funding was earmarked to hire administration personnel for the energy-efficient home-rebate program, including a website and other necessary planning to distribute the funds. The official characterized the decision as surprising.

Gov. DeSantis also rejected a grant for rural wastewater system upgrades

DeSantis also rejected a $24 million federal grant from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was to be used to upgrade rural wastewater systems. The grand funds were among the $511 million in line-item vetoes made by DeSantis before signing the state’s $116.5 million budget into law last year.

After the governor’s move, applications for grant funding totaling $377 million were withdrawn, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The amount included almost $174 million set aside for energy-efficiency improvements and another $173 million for a rebate program to purchase energy-efficient home appliances. Another $7 million was poised for a training program for electrification contractors.

“These programs directly benefit homeowners and renters, and these rebates mean that people in Florida would get lower utility bills and healthier and more comfortable homes as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said director of federal policy for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Lowell Ungar. “The federal money will help pay for that, so it will be a real loss if they don’t implement these programs.”

The administration official said Florida still has the option of reapplying for the funding later.