LoBiondo Introduces Legislation to Protect South Jersey Beaches
U.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today introduced legislation to reauthorize the "Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act," which would increase federal support available to coastal states. Introduced with Congressman Timothy Bishop (NY-01), LoBiondo's legislation would provide up to $30 million annually through fiscal year 2011 for water quality testing at the nation's 6,000 public beaches. In the previous Congress, LoBiondo also authored the BEACH Act which was approved by the House in December 2005, but never considered by the full Senate.
"New Jersey has the highest quality of water along our beaches than any other state in the country. While other states test only on holiday weekends, New Jersey continuously tests the water quality each week to ensure the safest possible conditions for residents and visitors," said LoBiondo. "The state's 130 miles of coastline and beaches are critical to the $20 billion tourism industry that fuels our local and state economy. My legislation would ensure the EPA can continue testing the water quality off our coasts, which is critical to both the literal health of New Jersey beaches and the state's economic well-being."
Since 2001, New Jersey has received over $1.4 million in BEACH Act funding, with an additional $279,870 grant expected this year. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) coastal and beach monitoring program is part of a cooperative initiative with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) to protect the state's waters. 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. In July 2006, LoBiondo joined with EPA Regional Administrator Alan Steinberg in a water quality testing exercise in the waters off of Atlantic City.