January’s Congressional Wrap Up

2020-02-10T15:32:37+00:00 January 31, 2020|
(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What Passed

The Senate passed the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act (S. 1982). If enacted, this legislation, which builds upon the Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-265), would address marine debris from domestic waste, infrastructure, and U.S. global engagement perspectives.

America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (H.R. 925) passed the Senate, and includes provisions favorably reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works last month for programs including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (P.L. 101-233; H.R. 925), the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act (S. 701), and the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998 (PL 105-312).

Both the full House Committee on Natural Resources and several of its subcommittees were active in marking up legislation. The full committee favorably reported legislation aimed at reducing the impact of climate change on key natural resources. The Climate-Ready Fisheries Act of 2019 (H.R. 4679) would help prepare fishing communities and industry for current and anticipated impacts of climate change by commissioning a study on how best to offer economic, social, and ecological support, and the Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act would establish an integrated national approach to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change. The Protect America’s Wildlife and Fish In Need of Conservation Act of 2019 (PAW and FIN Conservation Act; H.R. 4348) would ensure that long-term threats to wildlife from climate change would be considered when listing species as threatened or endangered and guarantee protections to threatened species. The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources favorably reported the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act (H.R. 3068), which intends to use training grants to improve education and career training programs for those seeking employment in the offshore wind industry. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2020 (H.R. 5666) was introduced and favorably passed out of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space. Provisions include a push for further human space exploration as well as support for key ocean observation technology such as satellites.

What’s New

Turning their attention to carbon captured and stored by ocean and coastal ecosystems, also known as “blue carbon,” the Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act (H.R. 5589) was introduced in the House. If enacted, this legislation would establish an interagency working group to strengthen research on the topic and to support conservation of blue carbon ecosystems.

The Chesapeake Bay Science, Education, and Ecosystem Enhancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 5684), which would reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was also introduced in the House.

Lawmakers introduced the FEMA Climate Change Preparedness Act (S. 3204) in the Senate. This legislation would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address the threats of climate change in the agency’s policy and strategic plans, including provisions for resilience, adaptation, and mitigation regarding sea level rise and extreme weather events.

The Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act (S. 3171) was also introduced in the Senate to reauthorize the National Estuary Program, which works to bring together nongovernmental and government stakeholders to regionally manage estuaries.

What’s Next

Appropriators will soon begin work on funding bills for FY 2021. The process will begin with the release of the president’s budget request in early February.

Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

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