Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK), Co-Chairs of the House Oceans Caucus, introduced legislation to strengthen efforts to remove and prevent marine debris. Every minute, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic is dumped into our ocean. According to the United Nations, that is more than eight million metric tons a year. The bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, H.R. 3969, will address the staggering amount of plastic in the ocean by improving the domestic cleanup and response to marine debris, incentivizing international engagement on the issue, and strengthening domestic infrastructure to responsibly dispose waste materials. The legislation builds on the successes of the Save Our Seas Act, which was signed into law last year.
“Our ocean is an immense natural resource, but the marine life and habitats it sustains are threatened by the pervasive and destructive plastics and debris that litter its waters and shores,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Marine debris is entirely preventable, and I am grateful to be keeping up the momentum on this issue by introducing the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act with my friend from Alaska and House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Don Young. This bill will accelerate efforts to eliminate marine debris in our ocean and increase investments in infrastructure to reduce the creation and pollution of plastic waste on a global scale.”
“Alaska is home to more coastline than any other state in the Union, and healthy oceans are essential to Alaska’s economy and way of life,” said Congressman Don Young. “Save Our Seas 2.0 builds on our successes combating marine debris through bolstering plastics research and funding needed for infrastructure improvements. I am pleased to once again partner with my friend and House Oceans Caucus co-chair Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to ensure our oceans stay healthy and productive for future generations to enjoy.”
Marine debris harm coastal economies, endanger marine life, destroy important marine habitat, propagate invasive species, and create hazardous conditions for the maritime industry. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act offers numerous provisions to address this problem, including:
- Establishing a Marine Debris Response Trust Fund for NOAA to use in responding to marine debris events
- Creating a Marine Debris Foundation to encourage, accept, and administer private gifts in connection with the activities and services of the NOAA Marine Debris Program
- Authorizing a prize competition to advance innovation in the removal and prevention of plastic waste
- Directing federal agencies to work with foreign countries to improve capacity and operation of waste management systems
- Requiring the Secretary of State to submit a report to Congress assessing the potential for negotiating a new international agreement or creating a new forum to address marine debris and mandating the Executive Branch consider marine debris in negotiations of international agreements
- Directing the EPA to develop a strategy to improve waste management and recycling infrastructure, harmonize waste collection and recycling protocols, strengthen markets for recycled plastic, and identify barriers to increasing the collection of recyclable materials
- Creating a Waste Management Revolving Fund, Waste Management Infrastructure Grant program, Drinking Water Infrastructure Grant program, Wastewater Infrastructure Grant program, and Trash-Free Water Grant program to assist local waste management authorities in improving and deploying waste interceptor technologies
The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is cosponsored by: Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Ed Case (D-HI), Sean Casten (D-IL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Francis Rooney (R-FL). The Senate companion to the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was introduced by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
Bonamici and Young co-chair the House Oceans Caucus, a bipartisan group of House Members committed to taking action to protect the health and future of our oceans. This Congress, the Caucus is focused on environmental stressors (including ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia); marine debris; ocean data and monitoring; coastal resiliency; and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.