WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to advance the “Marine Debris Emergency Act,” legislation that will speed up targeted assistance to coastal communities impacted by tsunami debris. The bill, which was introduced by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), was incorporated into the 2014 Coast Guard Reauthorization bill that was approved by the U.S. House today.
After debris from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan washed up all along the western U.S., Jaime and Congresswoman Bonamici put forth the “Marine Debris Emergency Act” to allow NOAA to provide quicker, more targeted cleanup responses for beaches and shores along the coast. One high profile example of tsunami debris was on the Oregon coast, where a 66 foot dock covered with potentially invasive species washed ashore. Experts have warned that debris will continue to wash up on U.S. coastline and possibly increase in volume.
“In Pacific County and up and down our coasts, it’s essential that communities are able to immediately respond to marine debris that poses problems for our economies and ecosystems,” said Jaime. “I’m pleased that Congress is advancing this solution that puts existing resources to work faster and more effectively to deal with marine debris threats.”
Specifically, the Marine Debris Emergency Act would:
• Utilize existing funds within NOAA’s Marine Debris Program;
• Allow NOAA to give preference to communities facing severe marine debris events, rather than restrict the agency to its current process of considering grant application requests based on order of submission.