Senate Passes Water Resources Bill, Including Whitehouse Oceans Endowment
Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved legislation to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 83 to 14. The legislation, which authorizes civil works projects and policies for the Army Corps of Engineers, includes an amendment from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes.
“Today we took another important step to protect our oceans and coasts, and the research, tourism, and fishing jobs they support,” said Whitehouse. “The WRDA bill will also help us move forward on water projects in Rhode Island, and make the Army Corps' procedures more transparent, and I was proud to support it.”
When funded, the Endowment would make grants available to coastal and Great Lakes states, local governments, planning bodies, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations. The grants would support research, restoration, and conservation efforts, including projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.
The WRDA re-authorization also includes a number of other proposals advocated by Senator Whitehouse, including:
- A provision that would improve transparency in the Army Corps of Engineers’ process for approving projects under its consideration. This is particularly important to Hope Global, in Cumberland, RI.
- A re-authorization of the National Dam Safety Program Act;
- A provision that would allow shoreline protection, in addition to navigation needs, to be considered by the Army Corps as they decide whether to repair the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge Breakwater structure;
- A measure to safeguard communities from extreme weather events by promoting research and activities that support ecosystem restoration, which in turn protects property, infrastructure, and natural resources;
- A provision to increase the per-project federal spending limit for Army Corps Continuing Authorities Programs to account for inflation and construction cost increases.
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