Here in South Florida, we know the intrinsic value of our environment, both locally and nationally. I will continue to make it my mission to protect our delicate and valuable ecosystems so that future generations are able to enjoy one of the most ecologically diverse and scenic areas in the nation. My district is the proud home of Biscayne National Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, with substantial responsibility for protecting many rare and endangered species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the United States.
Clean waters are the essence of our community, and we have had great collaborative successes in protecting and restoring our waterways over the years, including the dredging of the Miami River. Removing contaminated sediment has created an environmental and economic renaissance along the riverfront and has reduced contamination in Biscayne Bay as well.
I am also supportive of other ecological improvement projects such as the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project that will bring huge benefits to native plant and animal communities along, and within, Biscayne Bay. This project is also vital for stopping and reversing decades of saltwater intrusion that threatens our drinking water wells in southern Miami-Dade County, ensuring our children and grandchildren safe and reliable sources of drinking water.
Of course, our tropical paradise is world-renowned for its beaches. What the many millions of tourists may not know is that our beaches act as a natural defense from wind and flood damage caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. The environmental, economic, and safety benefits of our beaches cannot be overstated. Beach erosion is a tremendously important issue in our area, and I have been active in identifying and implementing effective long-term solutions to support comprehensive beach renourishment projects.
Other threats to our beaches and marine ecosystems are caused by humans. Oil spills in the western Gulf of Mexico have provided a grim example of the dangers of off-shore drilling. A spill closer to Florida’s shores, especially along the East Coast, could devastate the beautiful, natural ecosystems that define our community and buttress our economy. I oppose drilling off the coast of Florida because the potential environmental costs of a spill far outweigh the benefits to our local community. I also continue to be a staunch opponent of the oil drilling proposed off of Cuba’s shores, and have led the fight to impose sanctions and other penalties on individuals and entities involved in Cuba’s oil-drilling operations.
Our community and economy are intimately tied to the environmental integrity of our beaches, coral reefs, and wetland ecosystems and I will continue to act to protect these crucial habitats. Our natural wonders must be protected for the benefit of future generations of Floridians.