With several high-profile initiatives awaiting Congressional action before the end of the year, a package of ten bills focused on bolstering coastal management and improving climate resiliency programs made its way to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week. After hours of debate on the measure, the chamber passed the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act (H.R. 729) by a vote of 262-151.
In addition to reforming the 1972 Coastal Zone Management Act, integrating digitized coastal data into coastal management, and directing the establishment of a coastal climate change adaptation preparedness and response program within the U.S. Department of Commerce, the legislation includes four provisions supported by NMMA, which the association deems critical to the recreational boating industry and the thousands of businesses and jobs supported by the industry:
- Keep America's Waterfronts Working (H.R. 3596);
- Great Lakes Fishery Reauthorization (H.R. 1023);
- National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act (H.R. 2405); and
- National Fish Habitat Conservation (H.R. 1747).
Additionally, one of the 28 approved amendments included a provision by Representatives John Katko (R-NY-24) and Anthony Brindisi (D-NY-22) to research the development of harmful algal blooms (HABs), which will shed light on why HABs are developing and how to eradicate them from the Great Lakes region.
NMMA says, collectively, these bills would help protect coastal economies from climate change, restore the Great Lakes, facilitate science-based management of our nation's waters and coastlines, and fund habitat restoration projects. Healthy waterways and the coastal communities they support are integral to recreational boating and the thousands of businesses and jobs generated by the industry.
The package now heads to the Senate and NMMA said it will continue to work with stakeholder and congressional partners to stress the importance of enacting improved coastal management and climate change preparedness legislation.