The arrival of toxic blue-green algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee may seem trivial in the midst of a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 800 Floridians and caused untold economic damage to our state, but it should serve as a reminder that our work protecting Florida’s fragile ecosystems must never be placed on hold.
We will ultimately defeat COVID-19 through a combination of changing social norms, therapeutics, and eventually vaccines, but as we wage a medical war on the virus, we must also take steps to ensure Florida’s diverse and vibrant economy fully recovers.
Everglades restoration must be at the heart of any long-term solution to stabilize Florida’s economy. The completion of the patchwork of reservoirs and stormwater treatment areas, both proposed and some currently under construction, will provide much-needed flexibility to water managers to store and allocate cleaner water where and when it is needed most. This flexibility will benefit all of South Florida, restoring the ecological balance to the Everglades and our waterways and estuaries, while also securing a more
dependable water supply for agricultural and municipal use.
My office has worked toward this exact outcome, and we are making good progress. After securing $200 million for Everglades restoration projects last year, I worked closely with the Trump Administration to ensure the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget included $250 million for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER).
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which authors what Congress spends money on, I will fight so that Florida once again receives this vital federal funding for Everglades restoration in fiscal year 2021. This type of critical infrastructure project could also be part of a more comprehensive
federal infrastructure plan to help the country recover economically from the
While Everglades restoration is a major aspect of Florida’s economic security, there are other issues that I am fighting to fix. This week marks the tenth anniversary of the tragic Deepwater Horizon disaster, which claimed 11 lives, was the largest oil spill in U.S. history, and caused massive economic damage to our state. With this in mind, I, along with the entire Florida delegation, continue to work to extend the moratorium on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to help ensure economic certainty for our coastal communities.
As communities in the Florida Keys face challenges caused by a decline in the health of the Florida Reef Tract, I am also working to advance legislation that will fund and empower local project sponsors to conduct important research and coral restoration efforts. Finally, I continue to work to update antiquated laws to help Florida transition away from leaky septic tanks to centralized wastewater infrastructure and to allow our state to more easily replenish our beaches.
Life is on hold for millions of Floridians, but I will not allow that to slow down our efforts to protect our environment and recover Florida’s economy. In this multi-front war, we face human health, ecological, and economic challenges, but I am committed to securing victory on every battlefield.