Washington D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a package of bills originally heard in the Natural Resources Committee to protect vulnerable coastal and Great Lakes communities impacted by the climate crisis. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (D-Wash.) Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act (H.R. 729) is a package of 10 bipartisan coastal resilience bills that aid coastal ecosystems and economies, improve ocean monitoring and research, and offer coastal managers tools to protect coastal communities most vulnerable to climate impacts.
The bill 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; and uses data to address coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes management. H.R. 729 protects American commercial and recreational fisheries and the communities that depend on them by authorizing programs that preserve fish habitats and conduct research on Great Lakes fisheries management.
The bill also strengthens our marine and coastal science and policy workforce by reauthorizing and updating the National Sea Great College Program.
“The climate crisis is a clear and present danger to the 39 million Americans who live near our coasts,” said Chair Grijalva. “Passing today’s bill is a necessary step in reversing the impacts we’re seeing in our oceans and along our shorelines. I’m proud of the work our Committee and the Democratic Caucus have done to combat the climate crisis, and we’re not stopping here. We need comprehensive climate solutions to save the ocean from climate change.”
“Climate change is real and it requires bold action,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud that the House is continuing to take action to combat climate change by passing actionable, ambitious, bipartisan bills that can not only help our planet – but create quality jobs. I’m grateful the package of bills includes a bipartisan bill I’ve introduced, the Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act, to provide tribal communities with direct access to much needed resources to enhance their coastal resiliency and keep their people out of harm’s way. It’s great news that the House passed this legislation, and I hope the Senate will enable this to become law.”
“Our climate change crisis demands our focused and collective efforts to help our oceans, lakes and shorelines, and this needed legislation authorizes critical programs to do just that,” said Rep. Ed Case (D- Hawaii). “This is our reality and we must confront it rather than live in the past.”
“The Living Shorelines Act will help us protect our coastal communities from the effects of climate change, including more flooding from sea level rise and stronger hurricanes, by harnessing proven natural infrastructure solutions. The passage of this legislation by the U.S. House sends a clear message to Americans that Congress is serious about protecting coastal communities from the effects of the climate crisis,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said. “Since Superstorm Sandy, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to make my home state of New Jersey more resilient against the effects of climate change. This legislation will provide additional help so communities can use living shorelines to effectively mitigate future flooding while benefiting local economies. Strengthening living shorelines will also improve the local environment by supporting water quality and habitats for local wildlife and fish as well as provide enhanced opportunities for recreation.”
“For the past eight years, the previous House leadership stalled critical initiatives to address the climate crisis. Finally, in the 116th Congress, policymakers are acting swiftly to protect our oceans and coasts,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), whose bipartisan bill the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act passed today. “I’m proud that the House has passed this legislative package to protect coastal communities vulnerable to climate change, including my bill to protect working waterfronts. With H.R. 729, we are taking real action to safeguard America’s natural resources and encourage resiliency during the climate crisis.”
“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 (D-Calif.), 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.”
“Over 35 million people depend on the Great Lakes for everything from drinking water and recreation, to fish and wildlife activities and commercial navigation. The passage of this legislation means that the Great Lakes Science Center will no longer be forced to rely on unreliable, piecemeal funding to protect this precious resource for those millions for years to come,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). “I am proud to have championed this legislation to ensure that the fishery industry continues to thrive and grateful for the work of Chairman Grijalva to get this across the finish line.”
“For too long, coastal maps and geospatial data have been woefully inaccurate, outdated and even nonexistent,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.). “The Digital Coast Act will arm local planners with the tools they need to conserve our country’s fragile shorelines, which are home to more than 42 percent of the population and businesses that supply most of our gross domestic product. Ultimately, this bill is about protecting people and property.”
Since taking the House majority, Natural Resources Committee Democrats have worked to tackle climate change from every angle. Ocean climate action is of significant component of this work and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate made it clear that our oceans and coasts urgently need protection. During key legislative hearings and markups this year, the Committee advanced bills to promote resilience and ocean-climate solutions, and heard from scientists, fishermen, economists, tribal leaders, and coastal community members who sounded the alarms on the ocean climate crisis.
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Stay in touch with Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee