Bills Assists Vulnerable Coastal and Great Lakes Communities at the Forefront of the Climate Crisis
December 10, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act, a package of bipartisan bills that protects vulnerable coastal and Great Lakes communities impacted by the climate crisis, and includes Representative Huffman’s (D-San Rafael) bill, the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2019.
This timely vote came a week after Representative Huffman and a bicameral delegation of his colleagues, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, returned from this year’s Convention of the Parties, otherwise known as COP25, the follow-up meeting to the historic 2015 Paris climate conference. At COP25, global leaders met to reaffirm their commitment to combating climate change and discuss the important role that oceans play in climate resiliency, earning this year’s climate conference the nickname “BlueCOP”.
“A strong ocean climate action agenda is one of our most valuable tools in supporting coastal communities at the forefront of climate impacts. This comprehensive package of legislation shows that we are still in the fight to protect our oceans, coasts, and marine and coastal economy from the devastating impacts of the climate crisis,” said Rep. Huffman, Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. “The research, education, and outreach done through the Sea Grant program produces the collaboration that we need, now more than ever, to tackle the complex problems facing our coastal communities. My bipartisan bill will ensure this long-running program has the ability to train future generations of scientists and support community-based work – giving coastal communities and economies a fighting chance.”
H.R. 729, the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act, creates programs to support Tribal, State, and local community projects that protect, restore, and preserve coastal zones and working waterfronts; helps communities prepare for and respond to climate change, including through the development of living shoreline projects; and uses data to address coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes management. The legislation supports American commercial and recreational fisheries and the communities that depend on them by authorizing programs that preserve fish habitats and research Great Lakes fisheries management. It also strengthens our marine and coastal science and policy workforce by reauthorizing and updating the National Sea Grant College Program.
Since it was created in 1966, the National Sea Grant College Program has used research, outreach, and education to address the growing needs of America’s oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes. In 2018 alone, the program reported $624 million in economic impact from a federal investment of $76.5 million. Additionally, the Sea Grant program’s work has created or sustained 1,663 businesses and 7,621 jobs nationwide.
The National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act would provide continued stability for the program and enhance the management of the nation’s coasts and Great Lakes by:
- Authorizing federal appropriations for National Sea Grant College Program from FY2020 through FY2025;
- Changing reporting requirements to better reflect agency needs; and
- Clarifying the Sea Grant fellowship program to increase benefits to fellows and host offices.
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