LoBiondo Presses for Additional Resources to Protect South Jersey Beaches as Federal Agency Increases Efforts during State Government Shutdown
U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today called upon the U.S. Senate to pass his legislation that would reauthorize the "Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, which would increase federal support available to coastal states up to $35 million annually through fiscal year 2010 for water quality testing of the nation's 6,000 public beaches. The House passed LoBiondo's bill in December 2005. Joined by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Alan Steinberg, LoBiondo highlighted the importance of the funding at a press conference on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City as an EPA helicopter dedicated to water quality testing hovered over the water conducting a test.
"New Jersey has the highest quality of water at our beaches than any other state in the country. While other states test only on Memorial and Labor days, New Jersey continuously tests the water quality each week to ensure the safest possible conditions for residents and visitors. The state's 130 miles of coastline and beaches are critical to the $20 billion tourism industry that fuels our local and state economy," LoBiondo said at today's press conference. My legislation, which authorizes additional funding for EPA to continue water quality testing, is critical to both the health of New Jersey beaches, literally, and the state's economic health."
Since 2001, New Jersey has received over $1.4 million in BEACH Act funding, including a $277,730 grant this year. EPA's coastal and beach monitoring program is part of a cooperative initiative with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP). With the assistance of EPA's "Coastal Crusader" helicopter, each agency collects water samples once a week to test for bacteria; and they split the responsibility for aerial monitoring of the waters for floatable debris and oil slicks. However, due to the recent shutdown of New Jersey's government including NJ DEP, EPA has increased flights and enhanced coverage of the state's coastline and beaches.
Atlantic City Mayor Robert Levy was also on hand to welcome the EPA Regional Administrator.