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USA - Biden-Harris Administration Announces $132 Million for EPA’s National Estuary Program from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

EPA releases guidance on how the agency will administer the program

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an unprecedented investment of $132 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law over the next five years for important work to protect and restore estuaries of national significance, funding projects to address climate resilience, prioritize equity, and manage other key water quality and habitat challenges across 28 estuaries along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts and in Puerto Rico. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan highlighted the historic investment during a visit to Caño Martín Peña tidal channel in the San Juan Bay Estuary system as part of his Journey to Justice tour visit to Puerto Rico.

“I’m engaging directly with communities who will benefit from the work we will do thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the message is clear – it’s about time,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Communities have been waiting for far too long. This funding is an important investment in equity, clean water and resilience for some of our most treasured water resources.”

The National Estuary Program (NEP) is a place-based program that, since 1987, has funded projects that restore water quality and ecological integrity across 28 estuaries of national significance. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will accelerate work on Comprehensive Conservation Management Plans, which are structured frameworks for protecting and restoring estuary resources and meeting water quality needs. Additionally, NEPs have been at the forefront of addressing climate impacts and environmental justice disparities in their watersheds. The National Estuary Program is part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the overall benefits from certain Federal investments to underserved communities.

“This guidance is a major step toward Santa Monica Bay realizing on the ground protections from the very real impacts of a changing climate, including sea level rise,” said Tom Ford, Chair of the Association of National Estuary Programs, Director of the Santa Monica Bay National Estuary Program, and CEO of The Bay Foundation. “Funding from the BIL will enable our 28 National Estuary Programs to accelerate efforts to preserve and improve the health of our iconic coastal waters, especially in underserved communities.”

“The devastation caused by hurricanes Maria and Irma to our island home of Puerto Rico is difficult to imagine for those who were not here to experience it,” said Brenda Torres, Executive Director of the San Juan Bay National Estuary Program. “Funding that will flow to San Juan Bay from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will empower us to utilize nature-based solutions and green infrastructure to rebuild in a sustainable and resilient way.”

Today’s announcement includes guidance for NEPs on how EPA will administer program funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The guidance provides key information, including equity strategies, reporting requirements, and flexibility to the NEPs to address the priorities in their watersheds that are defined by local, city, state, federal, private and non-profit stakeholders. EPA expects NEPs to accelerate Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan implementation, develop strategies and practices that enable these program areas to be resilient and adapt to changing climate conditions, and make investments that ensure water quality and habitat benefits of this program are realized by disadvantaged communities.

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