DC Download: November 2021

DC Download: November 2021

Thank you to President Biden for signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law and to our members of Congress for their bipartisan work and support. This means $77 million for NERRS restoration and conservation over five years—that’s roughly $15 million per year!

Independent of this, the House and Senate are in conference to reconcile FY 2022 funding. Translation? They are working to reach agreement on the NERRS Operations and PAC budgets that get awarded to each Reserve in summer (or fall) of 2022.

NERRA’s goal for the conference committee is to agree to the higher funding amounts in the Senate’s proposed bill. Here is a simple breakdown of where they currently stand:

In addition, NERRA is asking the conference committee to waive the state match normally required when federal funds for PAC projects are received in FY 2022. These funds typically support construction, facilities upgrades, and acquisition of land.

NERRA acknowledges its many board members, along with Reserve friends groups and foundations around the country, who sent emails or letters to support this request, including, Friends of Old Woman Creek Reserve, Friends of Padilla Bay Reserve, Otter Point Creek Alliance, Kachemak Bay Council, Laudholm Farm Trust, and Friends of Rookery Bay.

Next Steps? Congress has until this Friday, 12/3, to either pass the appropriations bill or a second continuing resolution to continue their work on FY 2022 budget. Once the reconciled bill is approved by both the Senate and House, it is sent to the President to sign into law.

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DC Download: October 2021

DC Download: October 2021

NERRA enthusiastically applauds Senate Appropriations leaders and the entire committee on its FY 2022 Appropriations Bill, released October 18th. For NERRS Operations, Research, and Facilities (ORF), it included an increase of $5.5M for a total budget of $34M, and for NERRS Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction (PAC), it called for a $2M increase that brings the total budget to $6.5M.

Affirmation for the NERRS was included in the bill’s report language: “ … The Committee recognizes that the NERRS sites provide mixed-use areas that are protected for long-term research, monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship and provides $34,000,000 for the program …

Thank you to Chair Leahy (VT), Vice Chair Shelby (AL), Subcommittee Chair Shaheen (NH), Subcommittee Vice Chair Moran (KS), and to Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Committee Members: Senators Reed (RI), Schatz (HI), Feinstein (CA), Coons (DE), Merkley (OR), Van Hollen (MD), Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Graham (SC), Kennedy (LA). We appreciate our coastal, Great Lake, and estuary Senate champions!

Next Steps? Once the full Senate approves this bill, the two houses of Congress join in conference to reconcile their respective versions of the bill. After agreement is reached and each house votes on the revised bill, it is sent to the President to sign into law.

Here’s what else is on our radar:

  • Final House action on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill; HR 3684, as amended, includes $77 million for the NERRS!
  • The Build Back Better Act passed out of committee so it can be considered for full action in the House of Representatives. This contains a provision for $98 million in non-match spending for construction projects for National Estuarine Research Reserves and National Marine Sanctuaries over ten years—See page 967.

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DC Download: September 2021

DC Download: September 2021

Thank you to everyone who made National Estuaries Week such a success!

Your enthusiasm was reflected in the House and the Senate, which passed National Estuaries Week resolutions this month. A big thank you to our estuary champions, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) who led the Senate effort, and bipartisan Congressional Estuary Caucus Chairs Bill Posey (FL), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Rick Larson (WA), and Brian Mast (FL), who anchored the effort in the House. We also thank all members of Congress who signed the resolutions.

The end of the federal fiscal year is today, September 30th. At the time of this writing, the country awaits Congress’s passage of a continuing resolution (CR) to extend the current budget and allow more time for members to complete their work on the FY 2022 appropriations. On September 21, the House passed a CR through December, along with measures to increase the debt ceiling of spending. Senate passage is required to avoid a government shutdown. 

What’s else? Here’s what’s on our radar:

  • Final House action on Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, raising the possibility of passing the bill today. HR 3684, as amended, includes $77 million for the NERRS!
  • The House passed the Build Back Better Act out of committee so it can be considered for full House action. This contains a provision for $98 million in non-match spending for construction projects for National Estuarine Research Reserves and the National Marine Sanctuaries over a ten year period. (See page 967.)

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DC Download: August 2021

DC Download: August 2021

Earlier this month the Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill (HR 3684, as amended). The bill contains robust investments in our nation’s coastal infrastructure that are critical for addressing resilience and coastal hazards. This includes $77 million for National Estuarine Research Reserves to implement coastal habitat restoration projects to provide ecosystem and community resilience benefits under the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. Additionally, the bill contains numerous coastal resilience community investments (see summary of bill here).

Stay tuned for updates on the Senate’s appropriations work. NERRA will need your help in pushing for funding support for the NERRS. Thank you for all that you do!

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DC Download: July 2021

DC Download: July 2021

The House Appropriations Committee passed their FY2022 appropriations bill on July 15th. It included $30.5M for NERRS Operations (a $2M increase from FY2021) and $4M for NERRS PAC (a $500k decrease from FY2021). The bill’s report endorsed the NERRS, saying, “The Committee strongly supports this important partnership between NOAA and the coastal States and territories that protects and studies estuarine systems and encourages the continued expansion of the network.”

In August, members of Congress will return to their home states and districts to meet with constituents. This annual recess (8/2 through 8/20) is a critical time for Reserves and Friends to demonstrate the value and significance of our special places. NERRA urges every Reserve and Friend group to make a personal invitation to members and staff of their congressional delegations during this recess period.

Just ahead, it is expected that the Senate will take up their appropriations bill after the August recess, and NERRA will again ask for your help in pushing for funding support for the NERRS. Thank you for all you do.

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DC Download: June 2021

DC Download: June 2021

These are exciting times! The Administration has requested a $42.5 million for the NERRS Operations (ORF) budget for FY 2022— that’s a $14 million increase over FY2021! NERRA is proud to support this vote of confidence in our national System, and it’s critical for Congress to hear that you do, too. If you haven’t already, please reach out to your members of Congress via email with our revised funding request and the companion informational sheet by June 30th at the latest. It can be simple, as in these madlib emails.

Kudos to Brandon Puckett from the North Carolina Reserve for his presentation on living shorelines at the recent Estuary Caucus Briefing. Also, a big NERRA thank you to our friends at Restore America’s Estuaries and the Association of National Estuaries Programs for helping to coordinate this event and promote a revised FY2022 budget request for coastal and ocean programs in the Senate and the House.

You may have heard that Dr. Rick Spinrad has been confirmed as NOAA’s 11th administrator. With his four decades of ocean, atmosphere, and climate science and policy expertise, Dr. Spinrad is the ideal leader to take NOAA’s helm at this critical moment. He also has considerable knowledge of the NERRS and other NOAA-sponsored coastal programs. Congratulations, Dr. Spinrad!

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