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New Bill to Help Tsunami Debris Cleanup

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LINCOLN CITY, Ore. – Senator Jeff Merkley introduced a new bill Tuesday that would offer federal assistance to communities affected by marine debris emergencies.

The bill would further advance the current grant award process made through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris program and give preference in those grants to communities who are in need of severe debris removal.

“With debris from Japan’s tsunami washing up on Oregon beaches regularly, it’s clear we need an urgent response to extraordinary events like these,” Merkley said. “While some initial funds have been allocated, much more is needed. Moreover, my bill would cut through the red tape to get funds to communities more quickly. I am proud to work with Congresswoman Bonamici to make these much needed changes to the Marine Debris program to serve our coastal communities better.”

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici introduced a companion bill, also called the “Marine Debris Emergency Act.”

The NOAA grant programs which currently assist in debris removal are slow and do not account for severe circumstances. The Marine Debris Emergency Act would speed this process up, and give preference to applicants who are facing an extreme marine debris event.