Environmental Policy News

Obama Signs Bill Funding National Estuary Program for Five More Years

Money for federal estuary programs has been locked in for the next five years after President Barack Obama signed the bill authorizing the funding.

Sponsored by outgoing U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, the bill reauthorizes the federal National Estuary Program, created by the 1987 Clean Water Act, for the first time since 2010. The money helps support 28 programs that work to protect estuaries deemed to be of national significance. They include the Thibodaux, Louisiana-based Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), which covers about 4.2 million acres of wetlands in southeast Louisiana.

Even after the program expired six years ago, Congress continued to spend about $27 million on the federal program, with about $600,000 per year going to the individual estuary programs. Vitter’s bill locks in those payments through the 2021 fiscal year.

“Home to thousands of unique plants and animals, Louisiana’s estuaries are essential to better protecting our coastal communities from natural disasters, and now that my bill is law, Louisiana can finally move forward in improving its estuary program,” said Vitter in a release. “This is a big win and will certainly go a long way toward revitalizing the Barataria-Terrebonne NEP, ensuring our wetlands and diverse ecosystems will be around for decades to come.”

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