Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida's bipartisan 29-member congressional delegation had a number in mind when they requested federal budget funds for the Everglades restoration project: $200 million.
But President Donald Trump's budget is falling short – way short – as it calls for $63.3 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the project and $5.5 million for Operations and Maintenance.
Now, some of Florida's top elected officials and environmentalists are pushing back.
"Failing to meet the basic federal funding commitments to restore the Everglades is contrary to the administration's goal of improving project partnerships and cost-sharing with states," writes Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, and Francis Rooney, R-Naples, in a joint news release. "Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers envisioned a $200 million per year federal commitment when the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was first authorized nearly 20 years ago, and it is time for the administration to meet that commitment.”
Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group the Everglades Foundation, expressed a similar sentiment.
"We have consistently urged that the federal government meet its commitment to Everglades restoration at a level of at least $200 million for this fiscal year – an amount needed annually to restore America's Everglades for future generations, reduce polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and help ensure clean drinking water for over eight million Floridians," Eikenberg says.
Eikenberg also notes the necessity of the construction of an Everglades reservoir to store and recycle polluted water to send further south.
"Florida cannot continue to suffer through repeated outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae and red tide: the nation's third-most populous state is undergoing a perennial environmental disaster and an economic catastrophe, and the federal government must fulfill its role in helping solve the problem of Florida's waterways," Eikenberg says.
The Everglades Foundation is a separate legal entity than the Everglades Trust, which endorsed DeSantis for governor in October.
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