01 • 17 • 2017

An Eye on DC: Surfrider Foundation’s Federal Priorities

By Angela Howe

With so much focus on the incoming administration in Washington D.C. this week, the Surfrider Foundation wants to take this opportunity to remind you what we will be fighting for on the federal stage. Each year, the Surfrider Foundation analyzes the interests and actions of our grassroots network in relation to the challenges in need of advocacy at the federal level. We then prioritize a set of federal bills to advance Surfrider's mission at the national level. Surfrider engages our grassroots network of over 80 local chapters to take action and support these campaigns that have risen to national import. The Surfrider Foundation has already laid out our plan to stand up and defend our coastlines for the next four years, and this blog post discusses Surfrider's Federal Priorities for 2017. 

—> Protect Clean Water. The Clean Water Initiative fights to reduce pollution so it is safe to surf, swim and play in the ocean and other coastal waters. Unfortunately, water quality at our beaches is threatened by pollution from urban and agricultural runoff, sewage spills and overflows, and waste discharged into the ocean by industry, sewage treatment plants and power plants. At the national level, Surfrider is advocating for continued federal funding for the BEACH Act, which supports beach water quality monitoring and public notification programs in coastal states. Please click here to contact Congress in support of BEACH Act funding. Additionally, Surfrider will fight against any attempts to eliminate the Clean Water Rule that protects water quality that feeds coastal waters, including intermittent streams and wetlands.

—> Support Ocean Protection. Surfrider’s Not the Answer campaign is focused on preventing the expansion of offshore drilling into new areas. In recent years, multiple bills have been introduced in Congress that would require new oil and gas development in the Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska. Moreover, the Trump Administation is expected to propose new offshore drilling in U.S. waters in the coming year. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 showed the enormous impacts that offshore drilling can have on the marine ecosystem and coastal communities. Surfrider is also working to defend the National Ocean Policy from harmful amendments and advocating for policy implementation. Specific priorities include support for Regional Ocean Partnerships and the successful implementation of Regional Ocean Plans that protect the marine ecosystem and recreational uses. Thanks to the efforts of numerous agencies, stakeholder groups, NGOs, and members of the public, important progress is being made, and we need to maintain this momentum for ocean protection. 

—> Fight Plastic Pollution. Surfrider works at the federal level to support laws that address prevention and reduction of plastic ocean pollution. WIth the success of the 2015 Microbead-Free Waters Act, we know that there can be bipartisan movement to keep plastics and microplastics out of the ocean. We will continue to look for opportunities to attack plastic pollution at the federal level. The Surfrider Foundation's Rise Above Plastics program has been successful in educating the public and decision-makers about the harms of plastic pollution like single-use bag pollution; there are now 275 local plastic bag bans nationwide and the voter-affirmed statewide bag ban in California.  Surfrider works at the federal level to support laws that address prevention and reduction of plastic ocean pollution, such as the Trash Reduction Act, which will put a fee on single-use plastic bags to help eliminate this common form of plastic pollution.

—> Address Climate Change. Through our Coastal Preservation Initiative, Surfrider is working on proactive planning in response to rising sea levels and shrinking beaches. This is an important issue that we will track at the federal level, including support for the United States to acknowledge and respond to climate change. For instance, Surfrider supported the U.S.'s move to join important climate change agreements like the historic COP21 and will oppose the withdrawal from any such agreements. The Surfrider Foundation and our chapter network will continue to engage in high-level policy reform discussions (including tax reform for insurance and subsidy programs, crafting legislation requiring state and federal adaptation, and improving federal emergency response plans).

Surfrider encourages you to talk with your federal representatives on these priorities, and participate in the Blue Vision Summit Lobby Day in Washington D.C. on May 9th -11th, 2017 to express support for these issues!