Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) and six bipartisan members of the House representing coastal congressional districts, urged the House Committee on Appropriations to preserve the EPA's BEACH Act grants program. The Obama Administration has proposed eliminating BEACH Act funding in FY13.
The BEACH Act grants program funds beach water quality monitoring efforts in coastal states across the country. With the loss of the funding, it is likely that many states will eliminate or significantly curtail their beach water quality monitoring programs. In fiscal year 2012, California is slated to receive $506,000 in BEACH Act grants. A number of groups from the Central Coast have expressed their support for continued federal support for BEACH Act funding including the Surfrider Foundation.
I was very disappointed by the Obama Administration's plan to eliminate BEACH Act grants, and am working with my colleagues from other coastal communities to preserve this important funding. Without these grants, local environmental health officials may have to drop beach water testing and public notification programs, especially in California, where state and local governments continue to face budget shortfalls. Investing in these testing programs are a wise and necessary investment of federal dollars -- it ensures clean, safe beaches and that our health and valuable coastal economies are protected," said Capps.
Text of the letter is included below.
Dear Chairman Simpson:
We write today regarding Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act grants administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which were eliminated in the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget proposal.
The BEACH Act of 2000 helped states improve water quality testing and monitoring at beaches across the country, which has been critical to protecting the health of beachgoers. American families and international tourists make over two billion trips each year to America's beaches to fish, sunbathe, boat, swim, surf, and bird-watch. According to the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, tourism at America's beaches contributes more than $320 billion ayear to America's economy. BEACH Act grants ensure that states have the resources necessary to assure beachgoers that the water they are swimming in is not going to put their health at risk.
We fear that without this federal investment in water quality monitoring, states will choose not to set aside resources for this important program. In 2010, fewer than half of the states receiving federal grants invested their own funds on top of the federal grants for water quality monitoring and notification. States that receive these grants are currently obligated to have monitoring and notification programs that meet a certain threshold, but without BEACH Act grants that requirement will disappear.
We respectfully request that the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies restore funding for this important program back to theFY2012 level of $9.9 million. This very modest investment will ensure water quality monitoring and notification programs stay in place to give Americans the peace of mind that the water they swim in is safe and will not make them sick. We thank you for your consideration of this important request.
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Frank A. LoBiondo
Brian P. Bilbray
Timothy H. Bishop