The “Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act” is signed into law, revitalizing rivers, water quality and resilient ecosystems

On January 14, 2021, the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act—a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and expand the National Estuary Program (NEP)—was signed into law by disgraced former President Trump.

The NEP provides grants to 28 states to restore both the water quality and the ecological integrity of our nation’s most significant estuaries, including parts of the Raritan, Rahway, Elizabeth, and Hackensack Rivers in New Jersey.

This landmark legislation advances environmental restoration and resilience projects that help address new threats to America’s waterways, including climate change, and the communities they support.

Among its provisions, the legislation:

  • Nearly doubles funding for the NEP’s 28 estuaries of national significance, including the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, of which the 7th District is a part;
  • Ensures that the management plans governing nationally significant estuaries consider the effects of increasing and recurring extreme weather events, and develop and implement appropriate adaptation strategies; and
  • Expands eligibility for NEP grants to organizations working to address storm water runoff, coastal resiliency, and accelerated land loss issues.

Estuaries nurture a vast array of marine life, filter pollutants from rivers before they reach the sea, and are the natural infrastructure that protects human communities from floods and storms,” said Representative Tom Malinowski of Delaware.

As extreme weather events increasingly threaten these nurseries of the sea, I’m very proud this important legislation was signed into law, so these critical waterways will continue to be protected,” he added.

Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Representative Garret Graves (R-LA), fellow members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, joined Representative Malinowski as original cosponsors of the bill when it was introduced in July of 2019.

Photo of Elizabeth River Trail entrance is courtesy of Go Elizabeth.

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