Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) teamed up with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to roll out legislation that would assist coastal communities impacted by tsunami debris and other unexpected marine waste.
They were joined by original cosponsors representing Washington, Oregon, Alaska and California -- Representatives Peter DeFazio, Adam Smith, Kurt Schrader, Judy Chu, Sam Farr, Michael Honda, Jackie Speier, Earl Blumenauer, Rick Larsen, Louis Capps, Barbara Lee, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Mike Thompson, Don Young, Dave Reichert, Jared Huffman, Denny Heck and Suzan DelBene.
With debris from the 2011 tsunami that struck Japan still washing up on beaches and coastline all along the western U.S., Jaime and Congresswoman Bonamici reintroduced the "Marine Debris Emergency Act" to allow NOAA to provide quicker, more targeted cleanup responses. The Washington and Oregon representatives began pushing the bill last August, and are reintroducing the bill with the new congressional session.
Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides marine debris removal grants but does not distinguish between emergency and non-emergency scenarios. The Marine Debris Emergency expedites the entire grant application process.
"We're working to address the continuing cleanup needs from the 2011 tsunami, but we're also equipping Pacific County and communities all along the coast to respond to unforeseen debris emergencies," said Jaime. "Keeping our water and beaches clean and our communities safe requires us to respond in a quick, targeted and efficient manner. This bill will put existing resources to better use on the front lines, protecting the people and ecosystems of Southwest Washington."
The bill will require NOAA to give preference to those areas experiencing a marine debris emergency and applying for debris removal grants. Additionally, the bill will require NOAA to approve or deny all Marine Debris Program grant submissions within 60 days of application.