Last week, President Joe Biden signed into law the “t” from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla.
With the entire Florida delegation behind it, the U.S. House passed Mast’s proposal on a 412-7 vote last month. Three Democrats and four Republicans opposed the proposal. Back in March, the U.S. Senate passed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., companion bill without opposition.
Rubio and Mast have championed the bill in recent years. According to Mast’s office, the proposal amends the “Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act” which cleared Congress in 2018.
“Under the direction of this existing federal law, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed numerous reports over the last two decades researching harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and nationally; however, there has never been a Florida-specific report. The bill directs the task force to complete an assessment that examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region, including how ongoing South Florida ecosystem restoration efforts are impacting the distribution of algal blooms. Based on the assessment, the task force then must submit a plan to Congress for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region,” Mast’s office noted.
Rubio’s bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. Mast and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., led the proposal in the House. Other backers in the House include U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Val Demings, D-Fla., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla.
“This law will make a tremendous difference in our ability to develop a comprehensive plan to prepare for and mitigate against the devastating impacts of harmful algal blooms on South Florida’s coastal communities,” Rubio said on Thursday. “I thank President Biden for finally signing this bill into law so we can begin addressing these serious challenges.”
“As governor and now as senator, I’ve worked hard to address harmful algal blooms and naturally-occurring red tide in Florida’s waters,” Scott said. “I’m glad to see this important, bipartisan legislation signed into law, which will build on our efforts to protect Florida’s beautiful waters, environment and natural resources for future generations.”
“For far too long, the east and west coasts of Florida have been treated like Florida’s septic tank,” Mast said. “This law is an important step in undoing the harm our government caused when it manipulated our waterways to flush toxins into our community with no regard for public health. We must build on this momentum to permanently end harmful discharges and send the water south.”
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