U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., is pushing bill that he insists will “protect Floridians from toxic water and force the federal government to take responsibility for public health.”
Last week, Mast unveiled the “Stop Poisoning Florida Act,” the “PROTECT Florida Act” and the “Toxic Health Threat Warning Act.”
“Our goal is always zero discharges, and we’re not going to stop fighting until we get there. But in the meantime, we’re going to play the hand we’re dealt and that means protecting the health and safety of those in our community,” said Mast. “At a bare minimum, we should not be dealing with discharges that the EPA itself acknowledges are a threat to people’s health and the federal government should not be able to avoid responsibility.”
The “Stop Poisoning Florida Act” would “prohibit discharges from Lake Okeechobee at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam and the St. Lucie Lock and Dam when the water exceeds the toxicity level that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined is too toxic for human contact. The Toxic Health Threat Warning “will require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to notify the public and affected local governments if the water to be released from a flood risk management project is contaminated with cyanobacteria” in a hope to “end all hazardous discharges, but affected areas should, at the very least, be notified of the threat.” Mast’s “Prioritizing Revised Operations To Eliminate Cyanobacteria Toxins in Florida (the PROTECT Florida) Act” will “amend the Army Corps’ operational priorities to include public health, in addition to existing charges of flood control, navigation, water supply, enhancement of fish and wildlife, and recreation.”
All three bills were sent to the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. So far, Mast has not reeled in any co-sponsors and there are no companion measures over in the U.S. Senate.
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