This week, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., called on President Donald Trump include $250 million in funding for Everglades restoration in his FY2021 budget request. This request comes on the heels of Trump signing into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, which included a historic $200 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration.
Also this week, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., also wrote Trump calling on him for $250 million for Everglades restoration.
“We fought tooth and nail last year to secure a historic increase in funding for Everglades restoration. Now it’s time to build on that momentum and continue doing everything we can to protect our ecosystems and stop harmful discharges,” Mast said on Wednesday. “With the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir within our grasp, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal to get the job done!”
The text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
The 50/50 federal-state partnership to restore the Everglades is essential to Florida’s environment and economy. Over the last three years, working together, we have made substantial progress by authorizing the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir, expediting completion of Herbert Hoover Dike repairs and nearly tripling funding for Everglades restoration projects; however, there is much more work to be done. I am, therefore, writing to request that you include $250 million in construction funding for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) in your upcoming budget.
Under your leadership, and at my urging, the Environmental Protection Agency recently developed a standard which states that harmful algal blooms containing microsystin at a rate higher than 8 parts per billion are unsafe for human contact. Using this metric, the waterways in the community that I represent have at times been more than 60 times too toxic for human contact. I know from our previous conversations that you are committed to addressing this public health crisis, which is why it is critical that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works faster and harder to complete projects ahead of schedule.
In addition to changing the way Lake Okeechobee is managed, accelerating completion of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir is the best way to eliminate harmful discharges and send more clean water south into the Everglades. Funding SFER at $250 million this year will ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers is operating at nothing less than full capacity to accomplish this goal.
With Governor Ron DeSantis’s budget request of $300 million for Everglades restoration and your strong continued support, this federal-state partnership can accomplish unparalleled progress to restore America’s Everglades and prevent harmful discharges. Thank you for your continued attention to this issue, and I look forward to continuing our work together to build this critical infrastructure.