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Palazzo Co-Leads Bill to Increase Data Collaboration Between Coastal States

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Washington, December 13, 2019 | comments
Washington, DC - Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4), along with Representatives Charlie Crist (FL-13), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), and Chris Smith (NJ-4), introduced H.R. 5390, the Regional Ocean Partnership Act to formally authorize Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROP) as partners with the federal government to address ocean and coastal concerns. 

The legislation will provide ROPs with more consistent funding to help them perform their critical mission of supporting ocean and coastal health, sustainability, and resiliency. ROPs have been operating for years as regional organizations voluntarily convened by state governors. They foster collaboration between federal, state, local, and tribal governments, as well as other stakeholders, to address ocean and coastal issues unique to each region. ROPs currently receive funding through an assortment of grants and in-kind donations, making their funding levels unstable.

“When the coastal communities in my district face an issue in the Mississippi Sound, it is often times not exclusive to Mississippi and impacts large portions of the Gulf Coast region,” said Rep. Palazzo. “Our legislation fosters collaboration between coastal states through information and data sharing related to the oceans. We are introducing this bill today to better understand our oceans while working together to protect our resources for years to come.”

“As Floridians, we know it is our duty to preserve our way of life by keeping our oceans and coasts clean and thriving. The work of Regional Ocean Partnerships, such as the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, is critical in achieving that goal,” said Rep. Crist. “These partnerships need more consistent and predictable funding, and by formalizing this arrangement, we help ensure our oceans and coasts are better supported for generations to come.”

“Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROPs) have a long history of success at dealing with issues revolving around managing and restoring our ocean and coastal regions. This bill would allow us to continue to build on the tremendous accomplishments that have been achieved through ROPs across the nation by providing these programs with secure and predictable funding,” said Rep. Lowenthal. “I am proud to join Rep. Crist in putting forward this bill to further the critical research, conservation, and restoration efforts ROPs provide.”    

“Regional Ocean Partnerships are essential for the numerous private and public entities that help support and understand our clean oceans, bays and tributaries, and of course the shore-based tourism economies,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), whose district includes large coastal areas in Monmouth and Ocean counties along the Jersey Shore. “ROPs across the nation are hubs for research, data, and programs that help protect our oceans and waterways for future generations. I am pleased to join Rep. Crist and other Members who also represent coastal communities in supporting this bill to foster sensible conservation of our natural resources.” 

“The Gulf of Mexico Alliance is excited about what the Regional Ocean Partnership Act will mean for coordination and collaboration within the regions. Allowing for expanded actions that cross programmatic and geographic boundaries, is imperative for meaningful regional accomplishments in coastal restoration and resilience,” said Laura Bowie, Executive Director of GOMA.

Background on Regional Ocean Partnership Act:
Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROPs) are regional organizations voluntarily convened by state governors in collaboration with other governments and stakeholders to address ocean and coastal issues of concern in that region. The four existing ROPs include the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), and West Coast Ocean Alliance (WCOA). Meanwhile, Executive Order 13840, Ocean Policy to Advance Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States, recognizes the importance of ROPs in supporting interagency engagement and collaboration on cross-jurisdictional ocean and coastal matters.

In addition to providing more secure and predictable funding, authorization under this bill will give ROPs the ability to leverage funds from multiple federal agencies against state and private funding sources, further boosting their ability to address coastal and ocean issues of regional concern. The bill also establishes an application process for the designation of additional ROPs.

A Senate companion to the bill, S.2166, was voted out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in July and is awaiting consideration by the full chamber.

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