Now that summer is winding down and Congress is heading back to Washington, D.C. after spending time in their districts, with families and listening to constituents, we hope they also took some time to consider the importance of clean water and healthy beaches to the communities they represent. Whether inland or at the coast, beaches are a top vacation destination for Americans across the country. In fact, more than 100 million people visit U.S. beaches every year, helping to support coastal tourism and recreation economies valued at over $100 billion.
Beachgoers across the country deserve to know if the water at the beach is clean and safe for swimming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been providing technical and financial assistance to coastal states through the BEACH Act, a piece of legislation that Surfrider helped to pass in 2000, to help pay for beach water quality monitoring and reporting programs to protect public health at the beach. Earlier this year, the President's Budget for FY 2018 proposed reducing the EPA’s budget by 31%, consequently eliminating over 50 environmental programs. The BEACH Act Grants Program was one of those programs on the chopping block for elimination, but thankfully the House of Representatives passed a spending bill that includes level funding for this critical public health program. Agency-wide, the EPA fared better under the House bill - total proposed cuts are at $528 million compared to $2.6 billion proposed by the President’s Budget. For more information read media coverage of the FY 2018 funding bill approved by the House or view the full committee report here.
Now it is up to the Senate. When they come back to D.C. in September, the Senate Appropriations Committee will need to finish drafting spending bills to keep the government running past the October 1st budget deadline. As we count down the remaining days of summer, it is a great time to remind our Senators that clean water and healthy beaches are important to all Americans. Call your Senators in their district office or send an email asking them to reject the federal administration's cuts to NOAA, EPA and the BEACH Act. You can take action here.
You have the right to know if a day at the beach will make you sick!Hero image above by Evelyn O'Doherty.