Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement after the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously approved his bipartisan South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, legislation he reintroduced in January along with Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and U.S. Representatives Brian Mast (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL). The bill now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
“Toxic blue-green algae and red tide blooms cripple our local economies, make people sick, and kill marine life on a massive scale,” Rubio said. “My bill will help Florida’s coastal communities prepare for and mitigate the devastating impacts of harmful algal blooms, and we need to get it done now.”
The legislation, which Rubio first introduced in 2018, would direct the Interagency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) to assess the causes and consequences of HABs in Lake Okeechobee and around Florida’s southern coastlines to identify needed resources, and develop a plan of action to address these challenges that harm the ecosystems in Biscayne Bay, the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Florida Bay, Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie Estuary, and the Florida Reef Tract.
After completing the required assessment, the Task Force would be required to develop an Action Plan in coordination with the state and local stakeholders to reduce, mitigate, and control harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. This plan would include steps to:
- Address monitoring needs identified in the assessment;
- Develop a timeline and budgetary requirements for deployment of future monitoring assets;
- Identify requirements for development and verification of HAB predictive models; and
- Propose the development of an early warning system for alerting local communities to HAB risks to human health.