CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 5266, a bill to Reauthorize the National Estuary Programs, and for other purposes, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5266 was introduced on July 30, 2014 by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 5266 amends section 320(g) of the Clean Water Act (CWA) to allocate a portion of National Estuary Program (NEP) funds for competitive awards. States, interstate and regional water pollution control agencies and entities, State coastal zone management agencies, interstate agencies, other public or nonprofit private agencies, institutions, organizations, and individuals would be eligible for these grants. The EPA Administrator would be required to solicit applications from these eligible entities and select recipients that are best able to address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal areas. These areas include: 1) extensive seagrass habitat losses resulting in significant impacts on fisheries and water quality; 2) recurring harmful algae blooms, unusual marine mammal mortalities; 3) invasive exotic species which can threaten wastewater systems and cause other damage; 4) jellyfish proliferation limiting community access to water during peak tourism seasons; 5) flooding which may be related to sea level rise or wetland degradation or loss; and 6) low dissolved oxygen conditions in estuarine waters and related nutrient management.
H.R. 5266 also directs more funds to the individual estuaries in the program by reducing the amount of discretionary funds made available to the EPA. This legislation reauthorizes Section 320 of the Clean Water Act through 2018 with $27 million made available annually. This funding level is consistent with appropriations over the past five years.
The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established under Section 320 of the 1987 Clean Water Act Amendments. The program was developed to “protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance.” There are currently 28 estuaries located in the United States that have been designated as estuaries of “national significance.” Each estuary has its own program designed to protect the estuary its surrounding watershed.
 See Id.
According to CBO estimates, this legislation would cost $104 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming the appropriation of the authorized amounts.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.