On January 13th 2021, H.R.4044, the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act, was signed into law.
Introduced to the House in 2019 through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and sponsored by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D – NJ), the act reauthorizes appropriations for the National Estuary Program until 2026 and nearly doubles the annual funding authorization.
It also expands the range of supporting projects which would qualify for grants and recognizes the increasing threats towards estuaries such as pollution, accelerated land loss, and risks to biodiversity.
These actions demonstrate a clear recognition by Congress of the economic and environmental importance of wetlands and coastal environments in the United States.
Representatives Lizzie Fletcher (D – TX) and Garret Graves (R – LA) joined Representative Malinowski as original cosponsors of the bill when it was introduced in July, 2019. The Act received 26 bipartisan cosponsors and passed the House in February and the Senate in December, 2020.
The National Estuary Program was developed by the EPA in 1987 out of amendments to the Clean Water Act. It protects and restores water quality and ecological integrity of 28 estuaries of national significance on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts as well as Puerto Rico.
The program also works with local communities to maintain ecological integrity, protect against environmental threats, and develop long term conservation plans. Funding is used to support grants and research proposals advancing the mission of the Program.
Restore America’s Estuaries manages the National Estuary Program Coastal Watershed Grants on behalf of EPA. On January 27th, we will be announcing the awardees for the 2020 funding cycle live on Zoom. For more information, click here.