WASHINGTON - A bi-partisan bill co-sponsored by New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski D-7th - the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act - that would reauthorize and expand the National Estuary Program passed the House Wednesday by a vote of 355-62.
The NEP provides grants to 28 states to improve the water quality and ecological integrity of the nation’s most significant estuaries, including parts of the Raritan, Rahway, Elizabeth, and Hackensack Rivers in New Jersey.
Among its provisions, the legislation:
- Nearly doubles funding for the NEP’s 28 estuaries of national significance, including the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, of which New Jersey's 7th District is a part;
- Ensures that the management plans governing nationally significant estuaries consider the effects of increasing and recurring extreme weather events, and develop and implement appropriate adaptation strategies; and
- Expands eligibility for NEP grants to organizations working to address stormwater runoff, coastal resiliency, and accelerated land loss issues.
“Estuaries nurture a vast array of marine life, filter pollutants from rivers before they reach the sea, and are the natural infrastructure that protects human communities from floods and storms,” Malinowski said. “As extreme weather events increasingly threaten these nurseries of the sea – I’m happy that Congress is acting with strong bipartisan support to protect these critical waterways and the Americans who depend on them.”
He was joined by original cosponsors Rep.Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), fellow members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment.
“Estuaries make up less than 15% of the land area of the continental US, but more than half of all Americans live in these coastal regions – supporting roughly 70 million jobs. And these areas aren’t just economic drivers, they are beautiful landscapes with unparalleled ecological diversity, promoting the success and sustainability of commercial and recreational fisheries across the nation. I’m happy to be a lead cosponsor of this bill and I look forward to the continued success of the 28 estuary programs across the nation.,” Graves said.
“Along the Texas Gulf Coast, we know the importance of protecting the water quality and wildlife in our estuaries. Galveston Bay is a great benefit—supporting our economy through the Port of Houston and providing a natural habitat that protects us and enriches our quality of life,” Fletcher said. “I am glad to see legislation that would help make sure Galveston Bay and estuaries like it across the country have the resources available to support their diverse marine life, maintain water quality, and encourage economic opportunity.”