In 2016, Senator Rubio convinced a key committee chairman to restart Everglades restoration after decades of delay. In the years that followed, Rubio secured approval for the rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike to improve the resilience of communities near Lake Okeechobee and reduce harmful discharges to the national park. This was completed in January 2023. Rubio has also secured approval for the Central Everglades Planning Project, construction for which broke ground in February 2023.
PROTECTING FLORIDA’S COASTS
In addition, Rubio works to protect Florida’s waters and beaches from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. In 2019, when the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed offshore oil drilling that would endanger Florida’s coasts, Rubio teamed up with Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL) and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) to oppose energy operations in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. His advocacy bore major fruit in 2020, when President Donald Trump extended the moratorium on offshore drilling near Florida through 2023.
HELPING CORAL REEFS
Another issue close to Rubio’s heart is the fate of corals. These fragile, beautiful creatures are not just a critical part of Florida’s marine ecosystem — they are also a natural protection against hurricane storm surge. Unfortunately, corals are dying in droves. This is why Rubio authored the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act, a bill to reauthorize and modernize the Coral Reef Conservation Act, strengthen the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s coral reef program, and give new resources to non-federal partners who are closest to the crisis. In 2022, Rubio successfully got this vital bill enacted into law.
2022 also saw President Joe Biden sign the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act. Rubio wrote this bill with Senator Scott and Representatives Brian Mast (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL). Now law, it directs an interagency federal taskforce to study and address harmful algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee and around Florida’s southern coastlines. Further environmental legislation introduced by Rubio includes the South Florida Ecosystem Enhancement Act, which would reauthorize and improve the South Florida Geographic Program through 2026, and a bill to include the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program in the National Estuary Program.