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

Dec 22, 2020 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after the Senate passed his bipartisan Restoring Resilient Reefs Act (S. 2429). First introduced in August 2019 with Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representatives Darren Soto (D-FL) and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act would reauthorize and modernize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, strengthen NOAA’s Coral Reef program, and give innovative new tools and resources to the non-federal partners who are closest to the crisis in American coral reefs: states, territories, and local communities.
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.
“I saw the devastated condition of our coral reefs firsthand when touring the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and I promised a comprehensive response,” Rubio said. “I am grateful the U.S. Senate came together to pass this important and bipartisan bill that 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 urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bill,” Rubio continued. “We must protect and restore this integral component of the economic and ecological character of Florida, and ensure future generations will be able to enjoy this natural wonder.”
“Ocean warming and acidification have pushed our corals to the brink of extinction,” Schatz said. “Time is running out, but we can save them if we act now. Our bill deploys federal resources to the local governments and community organizations that are in the water right now working to restore our reefs.”
“During my eight years as Governor, Florida’s annual investments to preserve the environment increased by $1 billion,” Scott said. “As Senator, I was proud to build on our efforts to protect our environment by joining Senator Rubio and my colleagues to introduce and pass the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act. People from across the world come to Florida because of the state’s natural beauty, and I will keep working to preserve Florida’s environment for generations to come.”
“In Hawaii, healthy oceans and coral reefs are critical to our way of life,” Hirono said. “This bipartisan bill provides much needed resources to help our communities preserve and improve coral ecosystem health, and includes my coral reef prize competition, a provision I have introduced over the last three Congresses. I am proud that the Senate has passed our bipartisan bill and look forward to seeing this become law.”