The Beach Protection Act has seen both some movement and changes in the House of Representatives. On October 31rst, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, chaired by Representative Oberstar of Minnesota, approved amendments to the Act (HR2537). Changes from the initially proposed bill include:
· Authorization level of $40 million
· States are encouraged, but not obligated to perform source-tracking studies
· The EPA will publish criteria for use of rapid testing methods,now defined as giving results in less than 6hrs, at heavily used beaches
· Immediate posting of beaches
· EPA will conduct a study to determine the most equitable distribution of beach act grants to states, and
· EPA will publish a list of pathogen and pathogen indicators in coastal recreational waters after the water quality criteria are revised and published.
The Beach Protection Act, as amended, currently has 39 cosponsors and may soon be released to the full House floor for consideration and vote. Both Representatives Pallone (NJ) and Bishop (NY) who initially introduced the bill are supportive of the new amendments. In the Senate, S.1506, is still in Committee and has not picked up any cosponsors yet.
If you haven't already participated in Surfrider's Action Alert, please send an email to your Congressional leaders asking them to support the Beach Protection Act.