Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Everglades for the Next Generation Act.
Everglades restoration is unfortunately at a standstill. All of the projects that can be started are already underway and nearing completion. It has been six years since the last Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects (CERP) were authorized. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is supposed to be the vehicle for these authorizations, but clearly is not sufficient. In the 12 years since CERP was signed into law, Congress has passed only one WRDA bill. An awkward state of limbo is not the future Congress had in mind for the Everglades when it passed CERP, and it is not the future that the American people deserve. Congressional inaction has persevered for far too long despite bi-partisan support for restoration.
Regardless of the real progress, restoration efforts will not succeed without the next generation of projects, which cannot begin without further Congressional authorizations. That is exactly what this bill does: authorizes the shovel-ready projects which have been awaiting another WRDA. Additionally, this legislation will make it easier for the Army Corps of Engineers to move on many of the remaining projects in order to prevent future Congressional bottlenecking.
Restoration is not a theoretical exercise. CERP has demonstrable successes and biennial reports from the National Academy of Sciences. We know that the federal and state governments can successfully work together with private businesses and landowners to reach mutually beneficial agreements that restore the health of this unique, beautiful, wild, and wonderful resource that is absolutely essential for Florida.
I urge my colleagues to support critically important legislation.