Photo shows erosion along the Indian River Lagoon shoreline of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area {Photo provided by Peter DeWitt}

Rubio Brings Back Proposal to Import Foreign Sand for Beach Renourishment

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is bringing back his proposal to allow local municipalities to purchase sand from foreign counties to help fight beach erosion.

Back at the start of 2017, Rubio, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and several members of the Florida delegation brought out the “Sand Acquisition, Nourishment and Development (SAND) Act” which “will repeal archaic law that does not allow communities to buy sand from the Bahamas and other foreign countries to replenish shorelines.” Some areas in Florida, including Miami Dade and Broward counties and parts of the Treasure Coast , currently have to bring in sand from other parts of the Sunshine State and other states to nourish their beaches. The bill did not cross the finish line in the last Congress.

Rubio brought back the proposal this week, saying that Hurricane Dorian reinforced the need for it.

“Florida’s beautiful beaches attract visitors from all over the world and serve as major economic drivers for surrounding communities,” Rubio said on Wednesday. “And as Hurricane Dorian just demonstrated, healthy beaches provide a vital buffer to seaside communities that are dependent on regular renourishment cycles. My legislation will improve beach renourishment efforts by encouraging greater flexibility in acquiring the best sand for Florida beaches at the best value for federal, state, and local taxpayers."

Rubio’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week. So far, the bill does not have a House companion or any cosponsors in the Senate.

Frankel championed the bill last time out.

“Replenishing our shorelines protects our jobs, our environment, and our property,” Frankel said when she introduced the bill two and a half years ago. The proposal had the support of several local officials including Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca.

Other members of the Florida delegation--Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Brian Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democratic U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson--cosponsored the bill in the House. Ros-Lehtinen retired last year and Curbelo was defeated for a third term but the other members are still in the House.

“It’s time to lift the antiquated federal prohibition on replenishing Florida beaches with foreign sand,” said Wasserman Schultz in support of the proposal back in 2017. “The current law hurts Florida taxpayers through all the existing long-distance hauling costs involved. Our beaches are not only vital civic treasures for our residents, they’re also a pillar of Florida’s tourism economy. We need to give our local communities more tools to keep our beaches healthy and attractive. The SAND Act will do that.”

See Sunshine State News article . . .