Posey’s Bipartisan Plan to Help Estuaries with Critical Needs Heads to the President’s Desk
Washington, May 13 -
Last night the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation (S. 1523) to reauthorize funding for the National Estuary Program (NEP). Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), one of four principle co-authors in the House of Representatives, secured the inclusion of his bipartisan plan (H.R. 573) to reprioritize existing funding so more money is available for estuaries with critical needs like our Indian River Lagoon. Last July, Posey introduced the Estuary Urgent Needs Priority Program Act to meet high priority needs across the nation’s 28 national estuaries.
“This common sense plan will help provide critical funding for our nation’s estuaries, and make available additional funding to estuaries that are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems, including our own Indian River Lagoon,” said Congressman Posey. “I’m pleased to see this important bipartisan legislation pass the United States Congress and head to the President.”
In addition to providing strong funding for base NEP grants, Posey’s bipartisan plan directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prioritize funding to provide additional grants for estuaries that are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems. Some problems include: sea grass loss, reoccurring harmful algal blooms and invasive exotic species or jellyfish proliferation. These grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and will be funded through funds already authorized for the NEP program. The base bill also secures higher levels of funding for each estuary’s base grant.
Under S. 1523, the National Estuary Program is reauthorized for Fiscal Years 2017-2021 for $26.5 million. Posey’s plan makes 15 percent of appropriated funds available for the additional competitive awards to estuaries with urgent needs. The bill also gives direction to the EPA to ensure that no less than 80 percent of the funding is reserved for estuary base grants.
The National Estuary Program, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, was created in the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments. It is run through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect and restore water quality and ensure ecological health of estuaries of national significance. There are 28 “estuaries of national significance” that span multiple states and congressional districts all over the country. Each estuary uses local input and local priorities to create a management plan that addresses the issues of water quality and ecological health.