Washington, D.C. — In the face of threats like stronger storms and rising sea levels, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced legislation to provide a reliable stream of funding to help protect our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.  The National Oceans and Coastal Security Act would establish a fund to support work that helps Americans understand and adapt to forces like sea level rise, severe storms, and ocean acidification, which threaten lives and economic prosperity in coastal communities across the country.

“Our ocean and beautiful coastline are part of the foundation of our economy.  They’re also part of our way of life.  This bill will help Rhode Islanders and all Americans protect critical coastal infrastructure, restore marine and coastal areas that are important to jobs and our economy, and help future generations enjoy our oceans and coasts as we do today,” said Whitehouse, a co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus. “In the face of forces like ocean acidification, dead zones, oil spills, and weakened natural defenses like marshlands, we need to act and act quickly.”

The bill is an updated version of the National Endowment for the Oceans, which Senator Whitehouse authored and championed in previous Congresses.  The Fund would provide grants to strengthen coastal roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that are critical to coastal economies.  It would support work by state and local governments, universities, and non-profit organizations to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research, and acquire coastal properties for preservation.

The bill allows qualified applicants in any state to apply for funding through a competitive grant program administered by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Department of Commerce.  In addition, states that have or have had approved coastal zone management programs would receive formula grants to use for coastal infrastructure and ocean and coastal research efforts.

The bill would direct 12.5 percent of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy, to the Fund.  The federal government generates this revenue through offshore lease sales and production-based royalty payments.

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