President Donald Trump discussed the importance of completing restoration of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, and vaguely promised funding “coming soon” for the Everglades, following a tour of the structure Friday.
“What we’re doing is very important — it was very dangerous and it’s a big project,” Trump said of dike repairs during a brief media appearance at Canal Point, on the southeastern edge of the lake. “But it’s a great project for Florida. And Florida is a state that’s a phenomenal state.”
Most of the president’s question-and-answer session with the media focused on immigration and the Mexican border.
Asked about funding for the Everglades, Trump replied: “It’s coming soon. And a lot more than you would ever believe.”
Trump was joined by the state’s top Republican elected officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Several congressmen and state legislators also appeared with the president. DeSantis, whose endorsement by Trump helped boost him to victory in November, said the state will continue to push for additional funds for the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir and for money to raise the Tamiami Trail, to help the southern flow of water through the Everglades.
Last June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced funding was in place to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, which is basically a 30-foot-high earthen structure that surrounds the lake. Under the hastened schedule, completion was moved from 2025 to 2022.
Before the tour, Democrats attacked Trump for his budget proposal, which includes about one-third of the $200 million sought for Everglades restoration; cuts funding for the U.S. Department of the Interior, which manages the Everglades National Park, by 11 percent; and slashes funding for both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers by 31 percent.
“Given Trump’s Everglades budget request, he should be ashamed to even show his face in South Florida,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Broward County, said in a release. “On Wednesday, the Chief of Engineers of the Army Corps testified that Everglades restoration projects may need to ‘take a knee’ if Trump’s shabby and abysmal environmental budget were adopted. Unless Trump is visiting South Florida to apologize and burn his proposed budget, he should stay away.”
Trump’s budget proposal, released earlier this month, drew pushback from environmentalists and some of the president’s high-profile supporters, who maintain it does not include enough money for the Everglades. Scott, Rubio and U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Francis Rooney issued a news release March 13, saying the White House budget request “failed to include sufficient funding for Everglades restoration” efforts.
Source: News Service of Florida