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Administrator Wheeler Concludes South Florida Visit

10/19/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Boca Raton, Fla. (Oct. 19, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler concluded a visit through southeast Florida where he led a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens, held a roundtable with the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to discuss Puerto Rico recovery efforts, and announced the launch of the Trump Administration’s U.S Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issues of Marine Litter.

“My visit to South Florida has been one of the most rewarding periods of my time running this agency,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Welcoming new citizens, helping Puerto Rico recover from recent natural disasters, and announcing a major new strategy for cleaning up our oceans is exactly what EPA should be doing to help this nation get cleaner, healthier, and moving forward together.”

Administrator Wheeler kicked off his day by leading a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens in Miami. During his remarks, Administrator Wheeler welcomed our newest citizens by emphasizing the fundamental ideals of the U.S., highlighted the success of our nation through individual perseverance and pursuit of happiness, and thanked those in attendance for making their journey to become citizens.

Following the naturalization ceremony, Administrator Wheeler held an event in Doral with federal partners, local officials, and the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where to discuss the critical recovery work EPA is conducting in Puerto Rico. He was joined by U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez, EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Peter Brown, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, and Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Julio Fuentes.

During the event, Administrator Wheeler highlighted ongoing recovery work still being done following Hurricanes Irma and Maria and earthquakes and discussed the ongoing work to build local government capacity and ensure that government management systems are reliable and sustainable in Puerto Rico. He noted that EPA has sought to improve solid waste management, mitigate the leaking of underground storage tanks, invest in clean water and drinking water infrastructure, invest in septic systems, and promote workforce development training.

“Through my role on the Appropriations committee, I have successfully pushed for resilient construction and funding following the natural disasters that have devastated Puerto Rico. While the island continues its recovery efforts, this administration has gone above and beyond - providing approximately $43 billion for disaster recovery and resources. I’m proud to be a long-time champion of Puerto Rico, and I am grateful for the great work that the EPA and Administrator Wheeler have contributed to these efforts,” said U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25). 

“I want to thank EPA Administrator Wheeler for his agency’s diligent work to help our community and our nation,” said Mayor Carlos A. Giménez. “Whether it’s recovery efforts after a natural disaster here or in Puerto Rico or anywhere else in the United States, or helping Miami-Dade County upgrade its sewer system, the EPA has been an exceptional partner.”

“All of us were very proud and excited to be able to share the transformative work we are doing in support of the people of Puerto Rico,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez. “We are very thankful for the close support of Administrator Wheeler and Rear Admiral Brown on behalf of President Trump. With their encouragement, we are changing lives for the better.”

Administrator Wheeler then held a roundtable at Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus where he announced the launch of the Trump Administration’s U.S Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issues of Marine Litter. Administrator Wheeler was joined by U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Mark Menezes, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality Mary Neumayr, and EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker. 

The federal strategy will focus on building capacity, incentivizing the global recycling market, promoting research and development, promoting marine litter removal, and leading international efforts to curb global marine litter. Currently, through EPA’s Trash Free Waters program, EPA works directly with states, municipalities, and businesses to reduce litter, prevent trash from entering waterways, and capture trash that is already in our waters.

Later this evening, Administrator Wheeler will also hold a call with stakeholders to discuss the action plan. 

Read details of the U.S Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issues of Marine Litter here: https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/united-states-federal-strategy-addressing-global-issue-marine-litter.

“It’s scary to think about how much waste – especially plastic – is polluting our environment. Ocean plastics are destroying ecosystems, killing marine life and littering our beaches,” said Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18). “This is a problem that is only going to get worse until we come together to do something about it. Together with the help of the EPA and other agencies, I’m confident that we can get serious about removing pollution from our environment and preventing it from getting there in the first place. The health of our waterways depends on it.” 

“Through our National Laboratories, our universities, and American industry, this program will develop new technologies to keep plastics from entering the ocean, new methods to deconstruct existing plastic waste and upcycle it, and new plastics specifically designed to be recycled,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “While the U.S. is not the world’s driver of the marine plastic problem, we intend to drive the solution.”

“As the Trump Administration continues to advance the nation’s economic, security, and environmental interests, we must address this significant problem impacting the world’s oceans,” said CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr. “CEQ looks forward to continuing to work with EPA, NOAA, DOE, and all of the Federal agencies to implement this important Strategy.”

“We recognize that the U.S. cannot solve this global problem alone,” said EPA Office of International and Tribal Affairs Assistant Administrator Chad McIntosh. “Oceans are our shared resource and when we all work together we can protect this resource from marine litter while growing key economic sectors such as tourism and fishing.”

“The majority of the plastic pollution that enters the ocean comes from rapidly growing cities in the developing world that lack effective waste-management systems,” said United States Agency for International Development Acting Administrator John Barsa. “As part of President Trump’s vision, the U.S. Agency for International Development is working with local governments, communities, and the private sector in key countries to reduce ocean plastic pollution by strengthening systems to manage solid waste and promoting the ‘3Rs’ (reduce, reuse, recycle).”

"A clean ocean is the bedrock of the American Blue Economy," said retired Navy Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. "NOAA's Marine Debris Program is a core component of this U.S. Marine Litter Strategy, and we are committed to working with EPA and our partners to address the global issue of marine litter. This work is critical to healthy oceans and the coastal communities and economies that depend upon them.”

“It’s critical for our coastal habitats and economy to ensure our waters remain litter free,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker. “This initiative reinforces the Trump Administration’s commitment as a global leader in advocating for cleaner oceans.”

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Administrator Wheeler leads a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens in Miami.Administrator Wheeler leads a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens in Miami.Administrator Wheeler speaks about the critical recovery work EPA is conducting in Puerto Rico with federal partners, local officials, and the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.Administrator Wheeler speaks about the critical recovery work EPA is conducting in Puerto Rico with federal partners, local officials, and the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.Administrator Wheeler delivers remarks to launch Trump Administration's strategy on addressing global marine litter. Administrator Wheeler delivers remarks to launch Trump Administration's strategy on addressing global marine litter. Administrator Wheeler and Rep. Mast participate in a discussion on global marine litter.Administrator Wheeler and Rep. Mast participate in a discussion on global marine litter.