This bill seeks to promote the environmental wellness of estuaries by renewing their federal funding. Recap: estuaries (and nearby wetlands) are the bodies of water where rivers (fresh water) meet the sea (salt water).
First and foremost, this bill reauthorizes the National Estuary Program (NEP). A part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NEP is tasked with making sure that estuaries are clean and able to provide a safe environment for wildlife.
That’s not all. This bill also authorizes and encourages the NEP to promote a new grant program. Applicants competing for the grants would have to demonstrate that they’re tackling issues like:
- The destruction of seagrass
- Algae blooms
- High mortality rates for marine mammals
- Invasive species
- Too many jellyfish
- Low levels of oxygen in estuary waters
To accomplish all of this, the bill allows the Administrator of the EPA to appropriate a cool $27 million for each year from 2016 to 2020. At least 80 percent of this money would have to go to developing and monitoring the programs for which states and regional governments could receive grant money. At least 15 percent would have to go to making the awards themselves.