Florida Man Spends $68M on Electric Buses, Climate Champ–Chris Farrell, FL Man Goes Crazy—Conserves Another 19.8k Acres!

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Florida man spends $68M on electric buses, plus climate champion, Chris Farrell, and FL man goes crazy—conserves another 19.8K acres!



Gov. Ron DeSantis recently awarded more than $68 million in funding to secure 227 electric transit buses around the state. According to a FL.gov press release. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is awarding more than $68 million that will secure 227 electric transit buses in 13 counties statewide that will replace existing diesel transit buses in Alachua, Broward, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. This money comes from the Volkswagen settlement.

The Volkswagen Settlement is actually three settlements with the US Government which resolve allegations that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act (“CAA”) by the sale of approximately 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 diesel motor vehicles equipped with “defeat devices” in the form of computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests. The major excess pollutant at issue in this case is oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and is a serious health concern.

Florida’s DEP also awarded grants to seven school districts to purchase a total of 218 electric school buses in Broward, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties. Said Gov. DeSantis, “This funding will help lower emissions while also bringing our transit bus fleets to more modern standards. This is a win-win for air quality and advancing the state’s efforts to bolster growing electric vehicle usage.”

Why does this announcement matter to us? Introducing electric buses is an important and effective way to reduce harmful emissions, especially in highly populated areas where mobile sources are the largest sources of air pollution. In other words, even Gov. DeSantis understands the concept of environmental justice.

DEEPER DIVE: The Invading Sea, Volkswagen Settlement, FL.gov Presser



Chris Farell, a member of Audubon Florida likes perusing documents just as much as he likes donning hip waders and binoculars. And that’s a good thing. This past summer, Farrell was reviewing the St. Johns Water Management District Governing Board’s Agenda — when an item on the consent agenda caught his  eye. 

It was a request for approval of the Florida District’s new surplus lands list. The accompanying information included 18,000 acres of state-owned parcels deemed to be no longer needed for conservation. Conservation lands protect water quality, provide habitat, and create recreation opportunities for visitors and locals alike

What he found curious was the properties up for sale had no names. They had been labelled only by the property ID numbers, but no maps. Farrell  began checking parcel numbers against property appraisers’ records; an alarming pattern emerged. He determined that the parcels included Gainesville’s Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and Central Florida’s Hal Scott Preserve, and acreages on rivers, near important wetlands and in important wildlife corridors.

So he alerted Audubon’s team and other conservation groups who worked with district leadership, who agreed immediately to completely pull those parcels from that meeting agenda.

Why do Chris Farrell’s eagle eyes matter to us? conservation lands provide many benefits. Not only does they support threatened species, and non-threatened ones, too, they capture and clean water – reducing runoff and thus providing valuable flood protection for communities. Simply put, conservation lands protect us, sustain us and improve our quality of life – with benefits far outweighing their cost.

Their ability to hold water and reduce storm damage is particularly important in a state particularly vulnerable to hurricanes – events that will increase in both frequency and intensity as the climate continues to warm.

DEEPER DIVE: The Invading Sea, Darik News, Audubon Florida



Governor Ron DeSantis and his Cabinet recently approved conservation projects that included a mix of fee title purchases and conservation easements to permanently protect more than 19,800 acres, or a total area of 31 square miles, through the Florida Forever and Rural & Family Lands Protection programs (RFLPP).

RFLPP is an agricultural easement program managed by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the Florida Forest service to protect important agricultural lands through the acquisition of permanent land conservation easements. This program partners with federal programs such as the Department of Defense and NRCS, leveraging state appropriated funds dollar for dollar with these federal sources.

By permanently protecting those 19,800 acres, Florida is preserving critical headwaters, working forests, and recreation areas while protecting the habitat of some of Florida’s most iconic bird species, including Florida Scrub-Jays and Burrowing Owls.

Said Executive Director for Audubon Florida, Julie Wraithmell, “These significant conservation decisions demonstrate how Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands Protection programs work together to steward the Sunshine State’s critical natural resources.”

Since 2001, more than 800,000 acres have been protected through the Florida Forever program. These properties and more make up Florida’s state park system, wildlife management area system, state forest system, and other parks and preserves for the enjoyment of Floridians and visitors alike.

DEEPER DIVE: Audubon Florida, RFLPP