In response to an appeals court’s ruling to allow oil drilling in the Everglades, overturning a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to deny a company a permit for the practice, Senator José Javier Rodríguez issued the following statement: [Read more…] about Statement from Senator José Javier Rodríguez on Potential Oil Drilling in the Everglades
Two major environmental organizations are blasting Rick Scott for his environmental record in the wake of an Everglades announcement today they both slammed as a political stunt of the worst kind. [Read more…] about Scott accused of abusing office on ‘Glades
Governor Rick Scott today announced that, under his direction, another key Everglades restoration project is moving forward ahead of schedule. This year, Governor Scott included funding to expedite this project in his recommended budget and then signed into law this investment of $6 million to begin construction on the S-333 expansion project by the end of the year. [Read more…] about Gov. Scott: Expedited Water Project Will Help Reduce Harmful Lake Okeechobee Discharges
More Than $150 Million Allocated to Everglades Restoration
Mast Amendments Provide Money to Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms
U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today successfully secured more than $150 million in federal funding to combat harmful algal blooms and restore the Everglades. In addition to millions of dollars in funding for new and ongoing Everglades restoration projects, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act included two amendments authored by Rep. Mast to research and develop technology to prevent harmful algal blooms.
“After last summer, our community knows far too well what environmental disaster looks like. The great news is that this bill includes over $150 million that will directly help the Everglades and our coastal environment, including my amendments to combat harmful algal blooms,” Rep. Mast said. “But our work is far from done, which is why I will continue my fight in Congress to build a southern reservoir and take every possible step to clean up our water.”
The bill includes $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation and $76.5 million for South Florida ecosystem restoration. Additionally, the bill includes two amendments authored by Rep. Mast to research and develop new technology to combat harmful algal blooms:
Department of the Navy Research Laboratory – $598,000
The Environmental Sustainability Development Project under the Naval Research Laboratory works on coastal contamination and contaminated sediments. Funding for this program was originally cut in the proposed Department of Defense appropriations bill by $598,000 compared to FY2017 enacted levels. Rep. Mast’s amendment successfully restored the program to full funding.
The Aquatic Plant Control Research Program – $500,000
Rep. Mast’s amendment increased funding by $500,000 for the Aquatic Plant Control Research Program, which is the nation’s only federally authorized research program directed to develop technology for the management of non-indigenous aquatic plant species, such as harmful algal blooms.
Florida lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate reintroduced legislation today to expedite future Everglades-restoration projects by streamlining the process from planning to construction of a project.
The legislation – introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) – would automatically authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward on any Everglades-restoration project that is ready to begin, without having to wait for additional approval from Congress.
“Restoring the Everglades is a top priority,” Nelson said. “There’s simply too much at stake here in Florida to wait around for Congress to pass a water bill every few years. This bill will allow the Corps to begin work on these projects as soon as they are ready.”
Under the current system, the Corps must inform Congress once they are ready to begin work on a project, and then wait for Congress to authorize that project in a broader water resources bill.
Between 2001 and 2016, Congress only passed three water resources bills, delaying several Everglades projects for years. The $1.9 billion Central Everglades Planning Project, for example, was deemed shovel-ready in Dec. 2014, but wasn’t authorized by Congress until Dec. 2016.
Three Everglades-restoration projects are currently in the planning stage: the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project, the Western Everglades Project, and the Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project.
If Nelson’s bill is approved, construction on these three projects could begin as soon as the Corps deems them ready – instead of waiting years for Congress to authorize them in a future water bill.
Text of Nelson’s bill is available here.
U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and a bipartisan group of Florida congressional delegation members sent a letter today to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke inviting him to visit Florida’s Everglades to get a firsthand look at ongoing efforts to restore the River of Grass.
“As the newest secretary of the interior, we welcome you to visit a unique treasure, America’s Everglades,” the lawmakers wrote. “As secretary, you serve as chairman of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and play a vital role in the effort to restore the balance of water flow and management.”
Nelson, a long-time supporter of restoring the Everglades, brought then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) down to Florida in 2007 to give her a tour of the Everglades. He also brought Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, down in February to give him a firsthand look at the River of Grass.
Joining Nelson and Rubio in inviting Zinke are Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Carlos Curbelo, Val Demings, Ron DeSantis, Ted Deutch, Mario Diaz-Balart, Lois Frankel, Matt Gaetz, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Brian Mast, Stephanie Murphy, Bill Posey, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, John Rutherford, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Daniel Webster, Frederica Wilson and Ted Yoho.
Following is the full text of the lawmakers’ letter, and a PDF copy can be found here:
May 18, 2017
The Honorable Ryan Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:
As you continue to travel our great nation as the newest secretary of the interior, we welcome you to visit a unique treasure, America’s Everglades. The only subtropical ecosystem in the continental U.S., the Everglades is home to dozens of endangered and threatened species as well as a diverse array of native wildlife.
The U.S. Department of the Interior plays a critical role in our efforts to restore the balance of this ecosystem. As secretary, you serve as chairman of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force and play a vital role in the effort to restore the balance of water flow and management. The Everglades faces numerous challenges, but with a successful state and federal partnership, we are committed to ensuring future generations are able to enjoy this treasured ecosystem.
We realize your schedule is incredibly busy but would be honored to personally show you the River of Grass. Thank you for your consideration as you carry on with the important task of protecting and managing our nation’s natural resources.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Continued inaction on the Everglades problem will be a detriment to taxpayers and the future of the state, says the latest report from Florida TaxWatch, the state’s premier government watchdog group. The organization finds that if the state does not find a solution to the algae blooms and other problems from diversion of water from Lake Okeechobee, the state, tourism industry, and the overall economy would lose millions in revenues, not to mention the negative health and environmental impacts.
“Our environment is critical to our state, both as an economic driver and to keeping our flora and fauna thriving. If we continue to ignore the problem flowing from Lake Okeechobee, the state will suffer,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Local economies will suffer as algae spreads throughout the once-pristine waterways, property values will plummet and tourists will stop coming. These are all very real outcomes if we don’t find a solution.”
For decades, the Everglades have withstood expanding development, increased agricultural pressure and significant changes in natural systems. The intense development of Central and South Florida has increased the timing of water runoff and the levels of nutrients and pollution in its waters.
This major crisis affects both the natural systems and those who depend on them, as water is discharged from Lake Okeechobee away from the Everglades and diverted west into the Caloosahatchee River basin and east into the St. Lucie River basin. This results in the aforementioned algae blooms, leading to significant problems for the affected regions.
Read the full report: http://www.floridataxwatch.org/library/evergladesinaction