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Begich Disappointed with NOAA Marine Debris Funding


U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement after learning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is issuing $250,000 in grants to the five states impacted by the tsunami debris coming ashore from last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

NOAA announced today that Alaska is among the states receiving $50,000 to use toward marine debris removal efforts. The other states include Oregon, California, Hawaii and Washington.

Begich’s statement:

“A grant of $50,000 to Alaska is woefully inadequate to deal with the marine debris washing up on our coastal communities. That isn’t enough money for one beach clean-up, let alone the type of effort necessary for a large-scale planning and clean-up effort covering multiple states.

“I asked the Obama administration in May for $45 million over two years to combat what is a slow-motion environmental disaster that will unfold over several years.

“The small amounts of these grants only serve to underline the inadequate attention and funding the administration is giving to this crisis. I hope the White House will take this seriously and look for creative solutions needed to help fund boots on the beach and get this mess cleaned up.”

In May, Sen. Begich chaired a hearing of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard of the Senate Commerce Committee to take testimony from NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard on what is being done to deal with the estimated 1.5 million tons of debris still afloat after the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Following that hearing, he sent a letter to President Obama requesting $45 million over two years for clean-up efforts. Sen. Begich is meeting with NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco later this week and will continue to press for a better response to the marine debris problem.

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