November 13, 2019

Save Our Seas 2.0 Act Advances Through Final Senate Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) applauded the passage of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (introduced in whole as S. 1982) through the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was introduced in June to address the plastic debris crisis threatening coastal economies and harming marine life.

Portions of the bill previously passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The three bills now head to the Senate floor to be rejoined.

The legislation seeks to help reduce the creation of plastic waste, find uses for the plastic waste that already exists to keep it from entering the oceans, spur innovation, and tackle the problem on a global scale. It builds on the initial progress of the Save Our Seas Act, which was sponsored by Whitehouse and Sullivan and signed into law by President Trump in 2018. 

“The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act takes a big step in the right direction toward solving our global marine debris crisis,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-founded the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts. “The Senate has a bipartisan tradition of working together to protect our oceans, and I hope that will continue as this bill moves to the full Senate with strong votes in three committees.” 

“The passage of SOS 2.0 through three separate Senate committees is a testament to the momentum we’ve built toward protecting coastlines in Alaska, around the country, and across the globe,” said Senator Sullivan. “I want to thank Senators Menendez and Whitehouse, and their staff, for working with me and my team to advance SOS 2.0 this far, and for garnering broad support from both sides of the aisle, as well as the private sector, environmental groups, and the executive branch. Marine debris in our oceans is an environmental challenge that is solvable. SOS 2.0 provides the opportunity to solve it together. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure this important bill is passed and signed into law.”

“Marine debris and plastic waste threatens public health and safety and economic prosperity of coastal communities in New Jersey, and around the globe, said Senator Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This legislation that Senators Sullivan, Whitehouse and I have partnered on, which has now received overwhelming bi-partisan support from three Senate committees, provides much needed resources and improved U.S. domestic and foreign policy to bolster U.S. leadership to address this global environmental challenge. It is my expectation that this commonsense legislation will be swiftly passed by Congress and sent to the President’s desk for his signature into law. ”

In September, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee considered and approved part of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (introduced separately as the Save Our Seas 2.0: Improving Domestic Infrastructure to Prevent Marine Debris Act, S. 2260) pertaining to improving domestic waste and water infrastructure. Additionally, the Foreign Relations Committee considered and approved its piece of the bill (introduced separately as the Save Our Seas 2.0: Enhanced Global Engagement to Combat Marine Debris Act, S. 2372) that would step up global engagement to combat marine debris.

Roughly eight million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste from land enters the oceans each year.  Ninety percent of this plastic enters the oceans from ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia. The plastic breaks down into tiny pieces that can enter the marine food chain and harm fish and wildlife, and wash ashore on even the most remote stretches of coastline.

The full Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii), in addition to Senators Whitehouse, Sullivan, and Menendez.   






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