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Rubio Urges Biden to Request $725 Million for Everglades Restoration for FY 2023 and Fund EAA Reservoir Construction
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged President Joe Biden to include $725 million for Everglades restoration efforts in his forthcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget to Congress. Rubio made the same request last year, but the president’s budget failed to meet that request. The requested amount builds off Rubio’s successful effort to fulfill the FY 2021 Presidential budget request for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER). The FY 2022 and FY 2023 requests match the amount advocated for by the Everglades Coalition. Rubio’s request follows the Biden Administration’s recent decision to shortchange Florida infrastructure funding.
“The State of Florida is more than willing and capable to continue fulfilling its role and share in the execution of SFER,” Rubio wrote. “I hope the Federal government under your leadership will strive to be a better partner in Everglades restoration by reciprocating financial investment and directing funds to projects prioritized by the State of Florida, such as the EAA reservoir. Federal obligations for SFER are expected to increase by several billion dollars over the next several years due to new authorizations. As such, fulfilling Army Corps construction capacity for SFER by including no less than $725 million for Everglades restoration in your FY23 budget request must be a priority.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
As you develop your Fiscal Year 2023 budget, I respectfully ask you to prioritize full funding for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) to build upon the historic momentum that has been achieved in recent years to restore America’s Everglades. In order to meet the capacity of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct ecosystem restoration efforts and to keep Everglades restoration on track in a manner that is consistent with the Integrated Delivery Schedule (IDS), I urge you to request no less than $725 million for Everglades restoration in your forthcoming FY23 budget request to Congress.
The greater Everglades is an ecosystem of unparalleled significance and biodiversity on which approximately nine million Floridians rely for their drinking water, and which provides the recreational, outdoor, and economic opportunities that underscore the culture and way of life of Floridians. When the ecosystem is healthy, it provides security for an economy that is wholly dependent on a clean, unspoiled environment. When the system is unhealthy, the fallout can be disruptive to our constituents’ lives and can even be detrimental to human health. Providing sufficient construction funding to fulfill the Army Corps of Engineer’s capacity to execute SFER is integral to ensuring the long term health of the Everglades, which in turn is key to securing economic certainty for Florida’s residents by reducing the risk of toxic algal blooms that kill wildlife including fish, dolphins, manatees, birds, sea turtles and terrestrial scavengers on a massive scale; reversing harmful salinities in our coastal estuarine ecosystems that kill the vital sea grasses that nurture wildlife; and, minimizing the risk that Florida’s drinking water will be compromised by rising sea levels. These symptoms of ecological degradation that threaten the health and livelihoods of my constituents and the vitality of Florida’s environment and economy can largely be addressed by expeditiously advancing Everglades restoration. Everglades restoration will undoubtedly provide hope, health, and security to Floridians for generations. Everglades restoration truly is the bedrock of Florida’s future.
Of funds made available for SFER, it is my expectation that substantial investments will be made available to finance the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir, which is the single most important Everglades project for reducing the volume and duration of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and for sending more water south. The EAA Reservoir, the completion of which has already been delayed by thirteen months, requires an additional $3 billion in timely and consistent federal investment to be completed expeditiously. Any additional delays to this project, which has been prioritized by the State of Florida but astonishingly did not receive a single dollar in federal supplemental funding allocated by your administration, would be completely unacceptable.
The State of Florida is more than willing and capable to continue fulfilling its role and share in the execution of SFER. I hope the Federal government under your leadership will strive to be a better partner in Everglades restoration by reciprocating financial investment and directing funds to projects prioritized by the State of Florida, such as the EAA reservoir. Federal obligations for SFER are expected to increase by several billion dollars over the next several years due to new authorizations. As such, fulfilling Army Corps construction capacity for SFER by including no less than $725 million for Everglades restoration in your FY23 budget request must be a priority.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to working with you on this important bipartisan effort.
Rubio “has become the national park’s most vigorous champion in the Senate,” the New York Times editorial board wrote in March 2021.
“Senator Rubio has spearheaded a number of actions that have helped to limit the impacts of the state’s algal bloom epidemic,” the American Conservation Coalition wrote in 2018.
“Throughout his entire tenure in the U.S. Senate, Rubio has been a fierce advocate for Everglades restoration and investment in water infrastructure projects … [He] is leading the fight to reduce the impacts of algal blooms on Florida’s citizens, wildlife, and economy.”
Thanks to Senator Marco Rubio’s efforts, Everglades restoration is finally making real progress after decades of delay.
In 2016, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, then chairman of a critical Senate committee, wrote in the Miami Herald that his opposition to federal funding for Everglades restoration “has since changed, largely in part to my friend and colleague Sen. Marco Rubio.”
Rubio has used every tool at his disposal to secure approval for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). Rubio was also able to pass congressional authorization to modify CEPP and construct the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal communities, as well as improve water supply to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio has secured funding for critical Everglades restoration projects. In 2019, Rubio secured $200 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 federal appropriations for Everglades restoration. Working with President Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and the Florida Congressional Delegation, Rubio ensured the President’s FY 2021 budget contained a record $250 million request for Everglades restoration, and Rubio delivered on the appropriations. Working with key stakeholders, Rubio then urged President Biden to include $725 million for Everglades restoration efforts in his forthcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget.
Audubon Florida gave a “special thank you” to Rubio for his “strong commitment to Everglades restoration” and honored him with Audubon’s 2019 Champion of the Everglades Award.
- On January 31, 2022, Rubio joined Governor Ron DeSantis and Representatives Brian Mast (R-FL) and Byron Donalds (R-FL) for a press conference at the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.
- On January 19, 2022, Rubio released a statement criticizing the Biden Administration for shortchanging Florida infrastructure projects, including severely underfunding Everglades restoration and failing to allocate any funds toward the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.
- On December 8, 2021, Rubio sent a letter to United States Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall urging him to discontinue consideration of a proposed joint use agreement (JUA) to allow civil aviation operations at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) in Homestead, Florida.
- On December 7, 2021, Rubio urged the Army Corps of Engineers “all proposed and ongoing projects in Florida receive full and fair consideration of their value to local communities, our state, and our nation.”
- On November 19, 2021, Rubio celebrated the ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area Project,
- On November 15, 2021, Rubio’s Op-Ed with Miami-Dade County Mayor Cava highlighted the importance of preserving the bird drive basin and lands near Homestead for the Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration project.
- On September 27, 2021, Rubio applauded the construction contract for the federal portion of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.
- On August 5, 2021, Rubio filed an amendment to the $1 trillion Infrastructure Bill to secure $5 billion for Everglades restoration.
- On May 25, 2021, Rubio criticized President Biden for failing to meet Everglades funding request.
- On March 4, 2021, Rubio led the Florida Delegation in urging President Biden to request $725 million for Everglades restoration in his Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget.
- On December 22, 2020, Rubio secured $250 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, other critical funding for the Central Everglades Planning Project, in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 omnibus appropriations bill.
- On December 22, 2020, Rubio’s legislation to combat invasive species in the Everglades passed Congress.
- On December 14, 2020, Rubio’s op-ed highlighted the progress of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
- On December 9, 2020, Rubio praised the House passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and urged the Senate to move swiftly in approving the measure. Rubio secured numerous key provisions in WRDA, including funding for critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects related to Everglades restoration, beach renourishment, flood control, and environmental protection.
- On October 1, 2020, Rubio applauded the announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District that it had awarded four construction contracts, totaling more than $81 million, for ecosystem restoration in South Florida.
- On May 15, 2020, Rubio criticized a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would delay critical work on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir.
- On May 7, 2020, Rubio released a statement after the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) unanimously approved the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (AWIA 2020).
- On May 6, 2020, Rubio introduced the Suppressing Looming Invasive Threats Harming Everglades Restoration (SLITHER) Act, which authorizes and directs the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to develop innovative technologies and approaches to identify, target, and eliminate invasive animal and plant species that threaten Everglades restoration.
- On February 11, 2020, Rubio’s op-ed highlighted Everglades restoration funding in President Trump’s proposed budget.
- On February 10, 2020, Rubio praised the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2020 Work Plan, which included significant funding for Florida water projects.
- On February 6, 2020, Rubio applauded President Trump for including $250 million for Everglades restoration in the 2021 budget request.
- On December 19, 2019, Rubio secured the full $200 million for Everglades restoration in the appropriations bills that fund the federal government through Fiscal Year 2020.
- On October 31, 2019, Rubio secured critical federal funding for continued progress on Everglades restoration projects, coral disease research and response, Harmful Algal Blooms, water quality, wildlife, infrastructure, and the Space Coast.
- On October 23, 2019, Rubio and Representative Brian Mast (R-FL-18) urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir project delays.
- On October 7, 2019, Rubio urged Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to support the expedited completion of the Tamiami Trail Next Steps project.
- On September 12, 2019, Rubio secured critical funding for Everglades restoration, the full $200 million in President Trump’s updated budget request, in the FY2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
- On June 25, 2019, Rubio led a bipartisan group of his Florida colleagues in urging Assistant Secretary of the Army—Civil Works R.D. James to re-study the aging flood control system created as a result of the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Project.
- On June 21, 2019, Rubio and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) highlighted the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) announcement that $60 million will be awarded to the State of Florida to raise the unbridged sections of the Tamiami Trail.