House Moves Forward on Plan to Bring Coastal Restoration Jobs to Florida

Coastal-restoration jobs could help Florida communities hit hard by losses in the fishing and tourism industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credit Shutterstock licensed.

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Conservation groups are looking at the recent passage of the Moving Forward Act in the U.S. House, a $1.5 trillion bill to fund green infrastructure, as a way to help rebuild the economy.

Part of the money would be for coastal restoration jobs, which has strong appeal to states like Florida. Carlos Zegarra, executive director with the Miami-based environmental group Sachamama, works to engage the Latino community about the climate crisis. He said the plan is a win-win for both the nation and the Sunshine State struggling to bounce back from the pandemic.

“So what it means for for Florida is that will not only reactivate our states economy, which is heavily dependent on the tourism industry, it will create millions of jobs, jobs that are labor intensive that are very hard to be exported,” Zegarra said.

The bill would apportion around $13 billion to Florida over several years to help tackle road congestion and combat climate change. The plan is already facing pushback from Senate Republicans, and the White House threatened a veto claiming the bill is, “full of wasteful ‘Green New Deal’ initiatives.”

The group Ocean Defense Initiative advocated for similar legislation in the past. Director Jean Flemma said full passage this time around would provide critical support to Florida which also has the ongoing economic threat of hurricane season.

“There was a study that was done that found that during Hurricane Sandy, coastal wetlands that had been restored along the East Coast prevented hundreds of millions of dollars of damage that could have been caused beyond the very, very terrible damages that were caused,” Flemma said.

The bill includes $3 billion for coastal restoration as well as a new locally-driven climate discretionary grant program to support building things like living shorelines or projects that use natural materials and systems to combat flooding.

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