With America's oceans and coasts under increasing pressure from pollution, acidification, and severe storms, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced the re-introduction of his National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act (S. 646). The legislation, which is cosponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would provide a reliable stream of funding to protect our oceans and coasts, and the research, tourism, and fishing jobs they support.
"The strength of Rhode Island's economy is tied to the health of our oceans and coasts," said Whitehouse, a co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. "This legislation will help preserve and restore the full range of economic, ecological, cultural, and recreational benefits our oceans and coasts provide. The consequences of ocean acidification, dead zones, oil spills, and weakened natural defenses are being felt in coastal communities now, and we must act to reverse these trends."
"Washington state's coastal economy supports 165,000 jobs and generates $10.8 billion in economic activity," said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). "The long-term health of our oceans depends on how we act today to mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification, bolster bottom-up regional fishery management programs and safeguard against disastrous oil spills. This legislation would help preserve and restore our nation's diverse marine resources to ensure they remain vibrant and bountiful for future generations."
"This measure would help protect and preserve the Long Island Sound, which is critically important to Connecticut's economic growth and environmental landscape," said Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Oceans Caucus. "The Sound is truly a national treasure, and I will continue to support this measure and others intended to provide resources for oceans, ocean communities, and the maritime industries they support."
The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5 percent of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments.
Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a grant program for coastal states and through a national competitive grant program to support activities in any state that would benefit our oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes.
The grant programs established in the Endowment would fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.