December 2, 2020

Whitehouse-Sullivan-Menendez Marine Debris Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Senate approves technical changes to Save Our Seas 2.0

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) are applauding final Senate passage of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act this evening, sending the bill to the President’s desk. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was introduced in June 2019 to address the plastic debris crisis threatening coastal economies and harming marine life.

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 secured by the Save Our Seas Act, which was sponsored by Whitehouse and Sullivan and signed into law by President Trump in 2018.

“While marine debris presents a massive international challenge, it’s a manmade problem that we can solve by finding creative solutions at home and abroad,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-founded the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts. “Save Our Seas 2.0 is a wide-reaching, bipartisan bill that builds on progress we’ve already made addressing ocean pollution. There’s much more that needs to be done to tackle the scourge of plastic waste washing up on our shores—Save Our Seas 3.0 is already in the pipeline.”

“Save Our Seas 2.0 is the most comprehensive marine debris legislation ever to pass Congress,” said Senator Sullivan. “This proves that major bipartisan achievements on some of the biggest environmental challenges are possible. The progress we have made over the past few years on the marine debris crisis, beginning with the original Save Our Seas Act, is historic and constitutes a whole-of-government approach to helping protect our pristine environment across the globe and, particularly, in Alaska, which has more coastline than the rest of the Lower 48 combined. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for coming together to clean up our oceans, spark innovation on managing plastic waste, and protect our fisheries and coastal communities.”

“Today is a great day for New Jerseyans and all Americans in the fight to protect our beautiful coastlines and beach communities from the growing scourge of plastic waste washing up on our shores. Save Our Seas 2.0 provides the most comprehensive set of tools to help bolster the United States’ leadership and response to this growing global environmental and economic challenge and I’m so pleased to see it become law,” said Senator Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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. Plastic has been found in areas as remote as the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the ocean.

The Senate first passed Save Our Seas 2.0 in January and today approved technical changes made in the House. The House version of the bill was sponsored by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK).

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921