U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18)’s South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act today passed the House of Representatives and now will be presented to the President to sign into law. The bipartisan legislation will require the first-ever federal assessment and action plan to combat harmful algal blooms in Florida.
“The east and west coasts of Florida have been treated like the state’s own personal septic tank for years. Even the federal government has been in on the abuse, manipulating our waterways and flushing toxins into our communities with no regard for public health,” Rep. Mast said. “This bill will force the federal government to take responsibility for that harm and develop an action plan to combat toxic algal blooms in our community.”
The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act amends the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, which was reauthorized in late 2018 by legislation written by Rep. Mast and former Senator Bill Nelson (FL). Under the direction of this existing federal law, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed numerous reports over the last two decades researching harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and nationally; however, there has never been a Florida-specific report.
The bill directs the task force to complete an assessment that examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region, including how ongoing South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts are impacting the distribution of algal blooms. Based on the assessment, the task force then must submit a plan to Congress for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region.
The legislation was spearheaded in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott (FL).
“Harmful algal blooms can sicken Floridians, damage local economies, and destroy our ecosystems,” Sen. Rubio said. “This will help our coastal communities prepare for and mitigate the devastating impacts. I urge President Biden to sign this bill into law so we can begin addressing these challenges.”
“As Governor and now as Senator, I’ve worked hard to address harmful algal blooms and naturally-occurring red tide in Florida’s waters. Today, I’m proud to join Senator Rubio in thanking our House colleagues for coming together to pass our bipartisan South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act that will build on these efforts. I won’t stop fighting to protect Florida’s beautiful waters, environment and natural resources for future generations and I urge President Biden to quickly sign this important bill into law,” Sen. Scott said.
The bill was passed in a bipartisan vote of 412 to 7.