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Bipartisan Bill Focuses National Estuary Program Funding to Meet Urgent Ecological Challenges

Washington, July 15, 2014 - U.S. Representatives Bill Posey and Patrick Murphy introduced legislation today to prioritize funding within the National Estuary Program (NEP) to meet high priority needs across the nation’s 28 national estuaries. The Estuary Urgent Needs Priority Program Act prioritizes NEP funding to guarantee estuary base grant funding while also reserving funds within the NEP account for estuaries experiencing urgent ecological challenges.

“Many of the nation’s estuaries are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems, including our own Indian River Lagoon,” said Rep Posey. “Our bill simply requires that the EPA refocus existing funding to make sure that the money designated by Congress for estuaries is actually spent to address estuary needs.”

“Given the unique and severe situation in our Indian River Lagoon, this program will bring more funding opportunities to our area to help address the crisis in our waterways,” said Rep. Murphy. “This is a simple, bipartisan solution to a problem that has gone on for far too long, to the detriment of the Treasure Coast community and economy.”

Within amounts authorized for the NEPs, the legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide awards in addition to estuary base grants, for estuaries that are experiencing urgent and challenging ecological problems including Sea grass loss, reoccurring harmful algal blooms and invasive exotic species or jellyfish proliferation. These awards would be provided on a competitive basis and would be funded through funds already authorized for the NEP program and would not adversely impact the amount of base grants for estuaries.

Under the current program, funded at $25.1 million in FY 2014, each of the nation’s 28 estuaries receives a base grant of $538,000. That totals only $15.064 million.

The National Estuary Program which enjoys broad bipartisan support in the Congress was created in the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments and 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.

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