A Senate bill, S. 3641, would create the National Endowment for the Oceans. Introduced last summer by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Olympia Snow (R-ME), the bill, if passed, could provide over $1 billion a year for protection of the oceans and Great Lakes, plus research and restoration. The funding would be provided from the following: interest on Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, Outer Continental Shelf Lease Revenue, revenues from offshore renewable energy development, fines collected for violations of federal laws, and investment of endowment amounts in interest-bearing obligations.
Almost 50 of the grants provided would be allocated for coastal states and affect Native American tribes, 19 percent for grants for regional planning bodies, 29 percent to the Ocean Resources Conservation and Assistance Grant Program, and three percent for administrative expenses.
“In Rhode Island, the strength of our economy is tied to the health of our oceans,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This legislation will help protect our oceans and coasts, and the natural resources they provide, so they may continue to support jobs for generations to come.”
“This legislation is a major step forward in enhancing the management and protection of our nation’s invaluable coastal and ocean resources,” said Senator Snowe, the Ranking Member of the Senate subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. “In Maine, our coastal communities and economy are inextricably linked to the ocean’s health and sustainability, and the National Endowment for the Oceans Act would help fulfill our responsibility to preserve the vitality of the critical ecosystem it supports.”
The bill makes sense considering that coastal regions of the U.S. contribute about 50 percent of the GDP, and 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast. Congressional research found that the oceans and Great Lakes have suffered from pollution, unwise land use and coastal development and overfishing.
Environmental and conservation groups support the bill
“The Consortium for Ocean Leadership applauds Senators Whitehouse and Snowe for introducing S.973, a bill to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes (NEO),” said Robert B. Gagosian, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
“The legislation would provide reliable funding for research and preservation efforts through three different grant programs…NEO is a much needed bill that would help us address the long-term science priorities for understanding and managing our ocean and coastal resources,” Gagosian said.
Passing the bill will be tough
Passing the bill will be an uphill battle, so the Marine Conservation Institute urges people to send letters to their senators, telling them to vote for S. 3641.
Sign the Care2 petition, Protect the Oceans!
User: Wouter Kiel