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On Senate Floor, Rubio Calls On Feds To Stop Putting 10 Bird Nests Ahead Of Millions Of Treasure Coast Residents

Jul 14, 2016 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind its recommendation, under threat of lawsuit, to the South Florida Water Management District to allow more water into Lake Okeechobee in order to protect 10 snail kite bird nests. Rubio issued this call to action during a speech on the Senate floor today, in which he once again highlighted the need for Congress to pass the Central Everglades Planning Project this year.
 
“We love our wildlife in Florida. But when you have situations and conflicts like this one, you’re essentially trying to figure out whose side to be on: 10 bird nests of a species with numbers on the rise, or millions of Treasure Coast residents and the marine life that inhabits those waters?,” Rubio asked. “The answer should be clear. Stop the discharges and side with the millions of people on the Treasure Coast. But the federal government is clearly not on their side.
 
“These regulatory decisions are having a real impact on Floridians, on our ecology, on our economy, on our very way of life up and down the Treasure Coast,” Rubio added. “Just admit this makes no sense, no sense at all, reverse the order, and let’s focus on everything else we need to be doing on this algae issue – and that we were focused on before the federal government decided to create yet another problem to deal with.”
 
A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks are below. His speech can be watched here and a downloadable broadcast quality version is available here for TV stations.
 
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate Floor
Washington, D.C.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYwN41GtD80&feature=youtu.be
 
Perhaps the single most important long-term solution that we can put in place is the need for the Senate and for the House to pass and the President to sign the authorization for the Central Everglades Planning Project, which will divert these harmful discharges away from the coastlines and send more water south through the Everglades. We cannot lose our focus when it comes to these projects.
 

 
But I want to focus the rest of my time here on a new problem that emerged just last Friday. And it deals with the discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
 
As I mentioned, these discharges have been ongoing since January of this year, and what the discharges do is lower salinity levels and causes the algae to bloom.
 
But just when you think you’ve had enough problems to deal with on this, the federal government came in out of nowhere last Friday and threw another wrench. The Obama Administration, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “recommended” that the South Florida Water Management District force more water for the north into that lake that’s already releasing too much water. It did so in order to protect 10 snail kite bird nests. Ten bird nests. If the local water district doesn’t comply with this “recommendation”, the federal government has threatened to sue them.
 
Now, as I’ve just covered, the Lake Okeechobee discharges are part of the problem, and yet here come federal regulators from a completely different department asking for more discharges. And why? To protect ten bird nests.
 
Now look, in Florida, we love our wildlife. We love our Florida panthers. We love our dolphins. We love our manatees. If you drive across the state, I can’t tell you how many animals you’ll see on people’s license plates because Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles provides many options for people to show just how much they love and support the different animals, the flora, the fauna that our state has.
 
In fact, I’m one of those people with one of those plates. I have an alligator on mine – although it’s a University of Florida Gator.
 
We love our wildlife in Florida. But when you have situations and conflicts like this one, you’re essentially trying to figure out whose side to be on: 10 bird nests of a species with numbers on the rise, or millions of Treasure Coast residents and the marine life that inhabits those waters?
 
The answer should be clear. Stop the discharges and side with the millions of people on the Treasure Coast. But the federal government is clearly not on their side.
 
What the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is demanding is truly beyond comprehension, and is an example of the federal bureaucracy run amok. If the local water district does as the federal government demands and they release held water into Lake Okeechobee, the Army Corps is going to be forced to increase discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
 
These regulatory decisions are having a real impact on Floridians, on our ecology, on our economy, on our very way of life up and down the Treasure Coast. I asked Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the Secretary of the Interior, to immediately reverse this harmful and tone-deaf instruction that, if they implement, will prolong the ecological crisis along Florida’s waterways.
 
Just admit this makes no sense, no sense at all, reverse the order, and let’s focus on everything else we need to be doing on this algae issue – and that we were focused on before the federal government decided to create yet another problem to deal with.