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Rubio, Schatz, Scott, Hirono Applaud Committee Passage of Restoring Resilient Reefs Act

Dec 16, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) applauded the Senate Committee on Commerce’s unanimous passage of their Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2021 (S. 46). First introduced in August 2019, the bill would reauthorize and modernize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, strengthen NOAA’s Coral Reef program, and give new and innovative tools and resources to the non-federal partners who are closest to the crisis in American coral reefs: states, territories, and local communities. The bill unanimously passed the Senate in December 2020, but stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of the 116th Congress. The senators reintroduced the bill in January of this year.
“I saw firsthand the devastated condition of our coral reefs when I toured the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and I promised a comprehensive response,” Rubio said. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure federal agencies are partnering effectively with state and local governments, as well as the communities who rely on the vitality of these critical natural treasures in Florida. I am grateful the Senate’s Commerce Committee has passed this important bill and I am hopeful that it can soon become law.”  
“Our coral reefs have been pushed to the brink of extinction, and we need to act now to save them,” Schatz said. “Our bill would put federal funding in the hands of states and territories to manage and restore the coral reefs that our communities, oceans, and coasts depend on.”
“Today’s passage of the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is a great win for Florida’s environment, and will build on our efforts to help restore and protect our coral reef ecosystems,” Scott said. “I am proud to have helped write, cosponsor, and push for the passage of this good bill, and I’ll never stop fighting to make sure future generations can enjoy all that Florida has to offer. I want to thank my colleagues, Senators Rubio, Hirono and Schatz for their hard work on this legislation, and I look forward to seeing the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act pass on the Senate floor and become law.”
“So much of Hawaii’s economy and culture rely on healthy coral ecosystems. With coral health declining due to outside pressures like pollution and climate change, our partners on the ground urgently need the tools provided by this bill to conserve and restore these important resources,” Hirono said. “Now that the bill has passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee, I look forward to working with Senators Rubio, Schatz, and Scott to get this bill signed into law.” 
The Coral Reef Conservation Act, which expired more than 15 years ago, was designed to promote the conservation of our nation’s reefs. In recent years, the decline in the nation’s coral reefs has only become more severe. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act directs federal funding and technical assistance to states for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems, while incentivizing increased state and local investment in coral reef management capacity. The bill encourages innovative public-private Coral Reef Stewardship Partnerships among agencies, research centers, and community stakeholders; codifies and updates the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force; ensures that our national coral strategy is informed by a robust local stakeholder engagement process; and allows for emergency grants for coral disasters, among other measures.