Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today after the U.S. Senate began debate on the 2016 Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), which includes authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP):
“Earlier this year, one newspaper in my home state called the Central Everglades Planning Project ‘a must-pass priority for Florida.’ I agree, but I also believe it’s a must-pass priority for our nation because the Everglades is a national treasure that belongs to all Americans. We must ensure it is preserved for future generations to enjoy.
“Authorizing the Central Everglades Planning Project is more important than ever, because Florida’s ecosystems are being ravaged by toxic algae that is also threatening the livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families. This project will help move more water south, which is the single most important step we can take toward resolving the serious water issues afflicting Florida and protecting our environment.
“I appreciate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe recognizing that the Central Everglades Planning Project is in the national interest and including it in this year’s water bill. This project has long enjoyed bipartisan support in Florida, and I hope that strong support will be reflected in the Senate’s consideration of this bill. We cannot allow it to fall prey to election year politics, and I urge my colleagues to join me in resolving this problem this month.”
Background regarding Rubio’s work on water-related issues affecting Florida:
- 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.
- July 18, 2016 - Rubio visited Stuart and Fort Myers to observe the damage done by Lake Okeechobee discharges and pushed for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP).
- July 7, 2016 - Rubio wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to approve Governor Scott’s request for a federal emergency declaration.
- July 6, 2016 - Rubio spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the algal bloom plaguing Florida’s Treasure Coast.
- July 1, 2016 - Rubio visited Florida’s Treasure Coast to witness firsthand the algal bloom catastrophe.
- June 30, 2016 - One day after Rubio wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers calling for immediate action, they decided to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee.
- June 29, 2016 - Rubio wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers calling for immediate action to stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges.
- May 12, 2016 - Rubio supported the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy/Water Appropriations bill that included $49.5 million for Herbert Hoover Dike seepage control.
- May 12, 2016 - After President Obama signed into law Rubio’s bill to return Ten Mile Creek to local control, the state takes over the project.
- April 29, 2016 - Rubio met with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in West Palm Beach.
- April 28, 2016 - Because of Rubio’s advocacy efforts, the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) was included in S.2848, the 2016 Water Resources Development Act, which passed in the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in late April. Passing in committee is the farthest along in the legislative process that the CEPP has been since it was first proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
- March 9, 2016 - Senator Rubio reaffirmed his commitment to authorizing CEPP in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.
- 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 SWFWMD/ACOE projects.
- January 21, 2015 - Senator Rubio held a second stakeholder conference call where he discussed CEPP, Ten Mile Creek, Lake Okeechobee releases and the proposed state authority legislation.
- January 8, 2015 - S. 120 is introduced with Senator Rubio as an original cosponsor.
- 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 South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
- September 18, 2014 - Senator Rubio cosponsored S. 2861, Senator Nelson’s bill 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 of Engineers (ACOE) 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).