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VIDEO: In Floor Speech, Rubio Urges Senate To Protect Critical State River Basin

Apr 21, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today in favor of an amendment he has filed to the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would require the governors of all affected states to agree on water allocation before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can reallocate waters between the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin. In addition, the amendment states that no funds will be available for reallocation of water within the ACF River Basin until agreed on by the states affected. The amendment would also address the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) River Basin. Co-sponsors include Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Richard Shelby (R-AL).

“I have long supported the role governors play in water allocation when the water in question greatly impacts multiple states,” said Rubio. “However, absent such an agreement between governors, water continues to be withheld and the situation has now become dire in my home state of Florida. The bottom line is that the status quo is only working for one state. I, along with the senior Senator from Florida and our colleagues from Alabama, have stood lockstep to bring our respective states to the table to finalize water allocations that will take into account our shared goals.”

The freshwater inflows from the ACF Basin are a critical ecological and environmental component of the Apalachicola River and Bay. The regional economy and workforce rely on these flows, but the Corps has been withholding water from flowing downstream since 1958. As a result, the area has seen a drastic decline in the production of oysters, crab, shrimp and fish, which has been a major strain on the local economy.

A PDF of the legislation, Water Management for the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) and Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basins, is available here.

A transcript of Rubio’s full remarks is available below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video is available for download here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Floor Speech
April 21, 2016
https://youtu.be/6xj5mUODEvg

Senator Marco Rubio: “The other amendment that I filed today, cosponsored by Senators Shelby, Nelson, and Sessions, also highlights the importance of water management. The issue at hand there involves water that is naturally supposed to flow south, but it has not done so due to the Army Corps’ actions in and around the state of Georgia.

“The results of this mismanagement have led to a 2013 Department of Commerce fishery disaster, [which] was declared for oysters in Apalachicola Bay.

“During that same year, Senator Nelson and I held a field hearing in Apalachicola where we heard from local fishermen whose livelihoods and family traditions were injured by the collapse of these fisheries’.

“We must continue to explore ways to fish more sustainably, a large part of the fisheries’ collapse was the lack of freshwater flows.

“I have long supported the role governors play in water allocation when the water in question greatly impacts multiple states. However, absent such an agreement between governors, water continues to be withheld and the situation has now become dire in my home state of Florida.

“The bottom line is that the status quo is only working for one state.

“I, along with the senior Senator from Florida and our colleagues from Alabama, have stood lockstep to bring our respective states to the table to finalize water allocations that will take into account our shared goals.

“So today we filed an amendment to do just that, to require the governors to agree on water allocation before the Army Corps of Engineers can reallocate waters between the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin.

“The amendment also stipulates no funds will be available for reallocation of water within the states if an agreement between the governors is not finalized. And I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense measure.”