Murkowski-Led Efforts to Protect Alaska’s Oceans and Environment Pass in Annual NDAA
Alaska’s Blue Economy, Ports, and More Benefit from Annual Defense Bill
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a co-chair of the Senate Oceans Caucus, applauded the recent passage of H.R. 7776, the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), which included several Murkowski-led provisions aimed at supporting the blue economy and protecting Alaska’s oceans and environment, such as the bipartisan BLUE GLOBE Act she championed with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The bill also invests in port and harbor infrastructure through the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA), which authorizes funding for Alaska community port projects.
“The security and safety of Alaska’s oceans and coastal communities are among my top priorities. I’m incredibly proud that the bipartisan BLUE GLOBE Act I led with Senator Whitehouse, legislation to support our blue economy, was included in the NDAA. Through passage of the NDAA, we are investing in technologies and programs meant to better understand and monitor our oceans and atmosphere while also authorizing funding for our port and coastal infrastructure,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “From protecting Alaska’s fishermen to advancing ocean monitoring and technology innovation, I’m proud to see this bipartisan effort includes so many provisions which place a priority on Alaska’s waters.”
This year’s NDAA authorizes $857.9 billion for national defense, including support for our servicemembers and their families, and providing significant investments for national security efforts. Alaska priorities included in the annual funding bill, including the Murkowski-led Don Young Arctic Warrior Act, will provide continued support for enhanced Arctic security and work to improve the wellbeing and livelihoods of Alaska-based servicemembers. (Click here for highlights in the NDAA which include defense provisions and the Coast Guard reauthorization.)
Protecting Alaska’s Oceans, Wildlife, and People
- BLUE GLOBE Act (Bolstering Long-term Understanding and Exploration of the Great Lakes, Oceans, Bays, and Estuaries): Legislation introduced by Senators Murkowski and Whitehouse which will harness innovation, drive development of new marine technology and strengthen the federal maritime workforce in support of responsible stewardship of America’s oceans, bays, Great Lakes, and estuaries.
- Volcanic Ash and Fumes: Integrates the work of the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers in both Anchorage and in D.C. and creates a Memorandum of Understanding between NOAA and the Department of Commerce for support of emergency activities.
- Coral Reef Conservation Act: Explicitly makes Alaska, Indian Tribes, and Alaska Native Corporations eligible to participate in and benefit from the programs within the Act.
- Regional Ocean Partnerships: Authorizes funding for Regional Ocean Partnerships and Indian Tribes that participate in or engage with the Partnerships to manage and conserve ocean and coastal areas that span multiple jurisdictions.
- Marine Mammal Protection Act: Reauthorizes the Act, increases the study of marine mammal strandings in the Arctic and assesses training and resource needs in the Arctic.
- Western Alaska Oil Pollution Standards: Directs the USCG to promulgate a new higher standard for oil spill response organizations and regulated tank vessels to comply with in Western Alaska. The new standards will improve response time, response capacity and resource deployment during a time of increased vessel traffic.
Port and Coastal Infrastructure
- Water Resources Development Act of 2022:
- Authorizes the navigation project for the Elim Subsistence Harbor.
- Modifies the cost share for Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port to provide the community with significant savings.
- Creates a program for projects to address storm damage prevention and reduction, coastal erosion, and ice and glacial damage in Alaska with a 10 percent cost share for economically-disadvantaged communities.
- Provides relief to the City of St. George from retroactive cost increases associated with the previously completed harbor project.
- Directs the Corps to expedite the Juneau Auke Bay wave attenuator study.
- Authorizes and improves the Tribal Partnership Program, revising the cost share requirements for projects and studies carried out in partnership with Indian tribes.
- Improves the technical assistance authorities of the Corps.
- Includes a technical fix to ensure the Unalaska Dutch Harbor project may be dredged to the appropriate depth at the existing cost share basis.
- Supporting the Maritime Administration (MARAD): Extends the ability of the MARAD Port Infrastructure Development Grant program for one year to pay for shore side dock electrification projects that serve passenger vessels and cargo vessels.