Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) introduced his first bills of the 116th Congress focusing on environmental protections policy. The six bills reintroduced include Rep. Soto’s signature Kissimmee River Bill, along with legislation to protect Florida from fracking damage, combat the pandemic of infectious diseases caused by mosquitoes, limit the sale of lionfish, and increase research of risks of sinkholes.
Stated Rep. Darren Soto: “Since my first day in Congress I’ve championed sound environmental legislation, while focusing on protecting my home state of Florida from the harms of climate change. That’s why the first priority in the 116th Congress is making true on a promise I made to my constituents to protect and preserve our environment. As the first order of business, I’ve reintroduced my key environmental bills that received tremendous support in the last Congress. We will continue to work tirelessly to advance this critical legislation.”
Rep. Soto’s six bills reintroduced in the House this week, include:
- H.R. 37 – Kissimmee River Wild and Scenic River Study Act – a bill to authorize a study of the Kissimmee River for inclusion into the Wild and Scenic Rivers Program, a designation that grants the river critical ecological protections. This is a reintroduction of the bill that passed the House in the 115th Congress.
- H.R. 345 – SMASH Act – a bill that supports and expands programs for mosquito-borne and vector-borne disease surveillance and control. This is a reintroduction of a bill that was included in the Pandemic Bill that passed twice last year and was included in H.R. 269 of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (which passed the house Tuesday by a vote of 401-17).
- H.R. 417 – Lionfish Bill – legislation that prevents new lionfish from being transported into the country, while allowing lionfish that have been caught, to be shipped across the country for human consumption. Lionfish are only consumed by Florida coastal communities and not allowed to be transported outside of the counties they’re caught in. This bill passed out of Natural Resources Committee by voice vote last congress. Original co-sponsors include: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) and Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R).
- H.R. 436 – Fracking Disclosure and Safety Act – a bill that re-establishes President Obama’s federal rules governing hydraulic fracturing on a temporary basis while mandating stronger rules be established. These rules were repealed by the Trump administration last year. Specifically, this bill would codify the final rule issued March 26, 2015, entitled “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands” (80 FR 16128).
- H.R. 484 – Fracking Jurisdiction Act – legislation to grant the Secretary of the Interior and the EPA Administrator jurisdiction to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Background: there was a court case in Wyoming that questioned if either BLM or EPA had the Jurisdiction to regulate fracking and overturned some fracking regulations on that basis. This would solve that issue.
- Sinkhole Mapping Act of 2019 – a bill to direct the United States Geological Survey to focus on the short and long-term mechanisms that trigger sinkholes, including extreme storm events, prolonged droughts leading to shifts in water management practices, as well as ongoing aquafer depletion, and other major changes in water use. This legislation would also direct the Director of the USGS to establish and maintain a public website that displays maps that depict zones that are at greater risk of sinkhole formation and other relevant information critical for use by community planners and emergency managers. This will give community planners and first responders access to information on where sinkholes are likely to form. Original cosponsors include: Rep. Charlie Crist (D) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D)