Press Releases

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Announces Legislation to Increase Funding for and Protect Estuaries – Like Galveston Bay – Passes House

Washington, February 5, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher announced that bipartisan legislation she introduced with Congressman Malinowski (NJ-07) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA-06), the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act, passed the House 355-62.  This bill reauthorizes and increases funding for the National Estuary Program (NEP), which works to protect the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries across the country, including Galveston Bay.  Without reauthorization of the NEP, Galveston Bay would be at risk of losing millions of dollars in federal support.  Instead, this legislation reauthorizes the NEP for an additional 5 years and increases funding for this critical program. 

“Along the Texas Gulf Coast, we know the importance of protecting the water quality and wildlife in our estuaries.  Galveston Bay is a great benefit—supporting our economy through the Port of Houston and providing a natural habitat that protects us and enriches our quality of life,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher. “I am glad to see legislation that would help make sure Galveston Bay and estuaries like it across the country have the resources available to support their diverse marine life, maintain water quality, and encourage economic opportunity.”

“Estuaries nurture a vast array of marine life, filter pollutants from rivers before they reach the sea, and are the natural infrastructure that protects human communities from floods and storms,” said Congressman Malinowski (D-NJ). “As extreme weather events increasingly threaten these nurseries of the sea – I’m happy that Congress is acting with strong bipartisan support to protect these critical waterways and the Americans who depend on them.”

Specifically, the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act does the following: 

  • Reauthorizes the NEP for Fiscal Year 2022-Fiscal Year 2026;
  • Increases funding for the NEP’s 28 estuaries of national significance, such as Galveston Bay;
  • Ensures that the management plans governing nationally significant estuaries consider the effects of recurring extreme weather events, and that they develop and implement appropriate adaptation strategies; and
  • Expands eligibility for NEP grants to organizations working to address storm water runoff, coastal resiliency, and accelerated land loss issues.      

The National Estuary Program (NEP) is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program comprised of a network of organizations working to improve the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries.  Estuaries are areas where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with salt water inflows from the ocean.  The NEP was created by Congress in 1987 through amendments to the Clean Water Act.

Congresswoman Fletcher and Congressmen Malinowski and Graves are all members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment.