Fighting for Florida

Rubio’s efforts to fix Florida’s water quality issues in 2017-2018:

  • On October 16, Rubio urged the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James, to fairly consider Florida’s critical water infrastructure projects, some of which would improve water quality, in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Work Plan.

  • Rubio teamed up with Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Brian Mast to write language authorizing the EAA Storage Reservoir, to be built south of Lake Okeechobee, included in the compromise version of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), also known as WRDA, which passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump on October 23.

  • After reports revealed that red tide was confirmed in Miami-Dade County, Rubio released a video statement outlining his commitment to Everglades restoration.

  • Ahead of the vote on the Kendall Parkway on September 27, Rubio urged Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to demonstrate a clear commitment to protect an Everglades restoration footprint in the project area. Rubio demanded that the project avoid any conflict with Everglades Restoration efforts, and linked his support of the Parkway to requirements on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to buy land east of Krome Avenue and make it available for Everglades restoration land swaps.

  • On September 18, the Senate approved the final conference agreement to the FY19 Minibus appropriations package (H.R. 6157) that includes key measures advanced by Senator Rubio (R-FL) to address harmful algal blooms.

  • On September 12, the Senate approved the final conference agreement to the FY19 Minibus appropriations package (H.R. 5895), which includes critical funding secured by Senator Rubio for the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation and Everglades restoration that will improve water quality throughout the southern region of the state.

  • Following his successful request to the Small Business Administration, Senator Rubio announced the opening of recovery centers hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist businesses affected by red ride and blue-green algae blooms along the Treasure Coast and Southwest Florida.

  • In August, Rubio surveyed algal blooms in Captiva and Stuart. Rubio secured funding for agencies working to address harmful algal blooms. Rubio also urged Senate leaders to bring a critical water bill to the Senate floor that would help mitigate the impacts of lake discharges. Additionally, Rubio and Nelson secured a measure to enhance the public health response for Florida communities affected by the blooms. The two senators also introduced the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, which would help determine the federal resources available to solve algal challenges.
  • In July, Rubio requested assistance for Florida business owners adversely affected by the harmful algal blooms. Rubio also introduced an amendment to secure funding to address algal bloom toxicity. 

  • Following Rubio’s July 8th request to President Trump, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delayed scheduled discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.

  • In June, Rubio applauded the U.S. Army Corps for including key Florida infrastructure and water projects in the FY18 Work Plan. Rubio helped craft the omnibus bill that made these funds available to the Army Corps. The Senate also passed two Rubio measures to protect Lake Okeechobee communities and restore the Everglades.

  • In May, Rubio successfully secured FY19 funding priorities in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.

  • In March, Rubio urged the Army Corps to allocate funding for vital Florida water infrastructure projects, including the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation and Everglades restoration.

  • In the 2018 spending bill, Rubio supported the budget request of $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike construction and included an additional $180 million in the additional funding pot for Flood Control in the Construction account.

  • In February, Rubio was able to secure funding for Army Corps flood control projects in Florida through the disaster supplemental. Rubio also urged the Army Corps to use those funds to expedite completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project.

  • In October, Rubio led nearly all members of the Florida congressional delegation in urging the leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees to provide robust funding to expedite the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Appropriations:

FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations

  • Report language and $5 million to accelerate deployment of effective methods of intervention and mitigation to reduce the frequency, severity, and impact of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in freshwater systems. The report language encourages the agency to expand its collaboration with states to monitor, predict, track, and respond to HABs in the marine environment, and $1 million to expand existing support for states to assess domoic acid levels of HAB species in marine environment.

FY19 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations

  • Restores budget cuts for Everglades restoration, including $83,000 for Everglades restoration under the National Park Services’ Resource Stewardship account, more than $3 million under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget, and more than $6 million under the U.S. Geological Survey budget.
  • Report language to support more external research into the control and prevention of harmful algal blooms.
  • $2 million for land acquisition for Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Report language encouraging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to expedite completion of biological opinions for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), including suggested deadlines of no later than Sept. 13, 2018 for the New Water Phase and no later than Feb. 2, 2019 for the South Phase. 
  • $3.204 million (nearly double FY18 levels) for the South Florida Geographic Program with dedicated funding of at least—
    • $500,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in the Caloosahatchee Estuary and Indian River Lagoon especially with respect to assessing the impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges; and
    • $500,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay especially with respect to assessing the impact of Everglades Restoration projects.
    • $1.694 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF).
    • $63 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
    • $26.723 million for the National Estuary Program (NEP), including support for NEPs at Charlotte Harbor and Indian River Lagoon.
    • $15 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Rural Water Technical Assistance (a $2.3 million increase), including $1.7 million for technical assistance grants.
    • $713.823 million for EPA’s Science and Technology programs, including report language directing the agency to increase emphasis on external grant funding for research to control and prevent Harmful Algal Blooms.

Background regarding Rubio’s work on water-related issues affecting South Florida from previous Congresses:

  • September 15, 2016 – Landmark Everglades restoration and water quality improvement projects bundled together as the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) passed the Senate as part of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 95-3 with Rubio voting in favor.    

  • September 12, 2016 - Rubio welcomed the Senate’s continued advancement of the CEPP, as well as three more Florida provisions included in the WRDA.

  • September 9, 2016 - Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, penned an op-ed in the Miami Herald detailing how Rubio persuaded him to support CEPP. 

  • August 26, 2016 - Rubio participated in a Tri-Cities Community Meeting with local leaders in Pahokee. Rubio discussed repairs of the Herbert Hoover Dike, Lake Okeechobee, and the status of congressional action that would impact South Florida’s Everglades communities. 

  •  August 18, 2016 - Rubio and 15 Republican Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida urged President Obama to reconsider his Administration’s denial of Governor Rick Scott’s request for a federal disaster declaration in response to the toxic algal blooms in the state’s waterways.

  • May 12, 2016 -  Rubio supported the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that included $49.5 million for Herbert Hoover Dike seepage control.

  • April 29, 2016 - Rubio met with the SFWMD in West Palm Beach.

  • February 16, 2016 - Senator Rubio reiterated the need for CEPP to help alleviate discharges from Lake Okeechobee in an op-ed in the TC Palm.

  • February 8, 2016 - Senator Rubio signed a delegation letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the committees of jurisdiction (Senate EPW, House Transportation) requesting CEPP authorization be included in the forthcoming water resources bill

  • December 18, 2015 - Senator Rubio’s Ten Mile Creek deauthorization language became Public Law No. 114-113 as part of the end of the year spending bill.

  • May 14, 2015 - Senator Rubio wrote a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein requesting that language to deauthorize the Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve be included in the fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

  • February 20, 2015 - Senator Rubio took an aerial tour of the Northern Everglades to view the SFWMD/USACE projects.

  • January 21, 2015 - Senator Rubio held a second stakeholder conference call where he discussed CEPP, Ten Mile Creek, and Lake Okeechobee releases.

  • January 8, 2015 - S. 120 is introduced with Senator Rubio as an original cosponsor to authorize CEPP.

  • January 8, 2015 - Senator Rubio introduced S. 124, a bill to deauthorize the Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve Area Critical Restoration Project so the mismanaged federal project, that sat dormant for over a decade, could be transferred away from the federal government and into the hands of the State through the SFWMD.

  • September 18, 2014 - Senator Rubio cosponsored S. 2861 to authorize CEPP.

  • July 30, 2014 - Senator Rubio convened a stakeholder conference call to discuss the urgent need for CEPP and draft legislation that would move operational authority of Lake Okeechobee to the state.

  • June 20, 2014 - Senator Rubio visited the Indian River Lagoon to see the effects of the discharges firsthand, and held a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders to hear community concerns.

  • May 22, 2014 - Senator Rubio voted in support of the final conference report on WRRDA, but expressed concern regarding the absence of authorization for CEPP. On the same day, he also sent a letter to the Army Corps requesting that CEPP be approved as quickly as possible.

  • April 18, 2014 - Senator Rubio signed a delegation letter to WRRDA conferees requesting that CEPP be included in the final conference report.

  • May 15, 2013 - Senator Rubio cited the absence of CEPP as a factor in his vote against the Senate version of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).