Federal funding for UD Sea Grant program takes major step

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), the first Delaware senator in more than four decades to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced last week that he had secured funding for environmental programs critical to Delaware in the Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies and Interior, Environment & Related Agencies appropriations bills, which both passed the Senate Appropriations Committee this week with bipartisan support.

“Delaware’s natural resources, including beautiful coastline, help drive our economy and make Delaware a great place to live and work, but protecting our regional environment and our coastline requires resources,” said Coons. “That’s why I’m so proud that we were able to include critical funding for programs that keep our oceans and our local ecosystems clean and safe through this annual appropriations bill.”

Coons noted that he had fought for $71 million for NOAA’s Sea Grant College Program, of which University of Delaware’s Lewes campus is a member. He also championed for strong funding for NOAA’s ocean and coastal observation programs, which are designed to improve the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce and coastal resource management through the integration of real-time observations.

NOAA funding in the Senate bills also includes $80 million for Coastal Management Grants, $30 million for the new Title IX Oceans Fund, $10 million for the Marine Debris Program and $27.5 million for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). 

Funding in the bills includes $4 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program, $43 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund (NAWCA) and $425 million for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Coons also fought for strong funding for several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that provide states with the tools they need to protect and restore clean water, land, and air on the local level; including the Chesapeake Bay Program; the National Estuary Program; and grants to protect water from nonpoint source water pollution, ensure clean and safe beaches, and support clean water and drinking water infrastructure. As in past years, Delawareans will directly benefit from the many local programs these grants help support, Coons noted.