Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Monday afternoon spoke on the Senate floor calling for action to address the adverse effects of climate change in Delaware. The speech was given on Earth Day.
Senator Coons joined ten of his Senate colleagues Tuesday in introducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) through 2017. Since 1989, NAWCA has provided critical support for partnership efforts to protect habitat for waterfowl, fish, and wildlife.
NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations and individuals in the United States, Canada, and Mexico who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects that benefit migratory birds and other wildlife. Over the last two decades, NAWCA has been highly successful in generating matching funding to protect millions of acres of habitat across North America.
NAWCA currently funds eight projects in Delaware that have conserved a total of 7,528 acres of wildlife habitat. The program has awarded more than $4 million in funds that stimulated partner contributions of more than $7.5 million. Delaware also benefits from three multi-state NAWCA projects that have conserved 45,500 acres of wildlife habitat on the Chesapeake Bay.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Chris has been a strong advocate for environmental conservation. He supports programs that help protect wildlife and habitat, water quality, and open space, including NAWCA, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Forest Legacy Program, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, and farm bill conservation programs.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) announced on Thursday it has reached a conservation milestone with more than 13 million acres of habitat conserved in North America. According to the organization, the groundbreaking number is a cumulative accomplishment of the millions of DU members, as well as volunteers and partners, who have been a part of the organization over the past 76 years.
“Coming on the heels of DU’s 75th anniversary year, this milestone is a fitting tribute to the hard work of each and every member, volunteer and staff member who has contributed in any way over the past three-quarters of a century,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “If not for their dedication and commitment to conservation, this accomplishment would not have been possible.”
The milestone is a perfect example of how much can be achieved when hunters and others with a passion for waterfowl and wetlands conservation work together for a common goal. DU’s mission has always been to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitat for North America’s waterfowl, and this milestone is a direct reflection of that statement.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.
Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has been an advocate for environmental conservation. Over the past two years, Chris was the lead sponsor of a bipartisan resolution celebrating the National Wildlife Refuge System and National Wildlife Refuge Week, which officially runs from October 14th to the 20th. The 2012 resolution passed unanimously in September, with 25 bipartisan cosponsors.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work on environmental conservation.
Click here to learn more about Ducks Unlimited.
The Office of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on Wednesday the preliminary results of a comprehensive national survey of outdoor recreation showing a significant increase in hunters and a double-digit increase in anglers over the past five years. These results have occurred in the face of decades of decline in the outdoor recreation industry, a subject addressed by President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative implemented in 2010.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent. Nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
“Seeing more people fishing, hunting, and getting outdoors is great news for America’s economy and conservation heritage,” Secretary Salazar said. “That is why, through President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have been focused on helping Americans rediscover the joys of casting a line, passing along family hunting traditions, and protecting the places they love."
Senator Coons is a strong proponent of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, designed to strengthen conservation efforts and encourage wild life related recreation across the nation. Chris has endorsed two projects in the state of Delaware as part of the national effort. In May, Chris joined Secretary Ken Salazar, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, and others to launch the Delaware Bayshore Initiative to strengthen Delaware’s Chesapeake coastlines. In October of 201,1 he helped announce the First State National Historical Park Act of 2011, which plans for the construction of a new state park.
Click here to read the Department of Interior press release.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ support of conservation and outdoor recreation.
SEAFORD, Del. – On Monday, Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper were joined by state officials and Seaford cattle farm owners Carlton and Jody Jones to highlight conservation accomplishments in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, working with farmers and other local stakeholders, has achieved historic levels of conservation implementation in the Chesapeake Bay watershed during the past two years, leading to water quality improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement and support of rural economies.
NRCS helped Chesapeake Bay farmers and forest landowners voluntarily install conservation practices or actions on a total of 650,000 acres of working lands. Since 2004, NRCS has provided more than $500 million to help farmers install or apply conservation practices. Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative (CBWI), and other Farm Bill programs, NRCS staff helped landowners to voluntarily implement over 60,000 new conservation practices in the watershed in 2011.
"Voluntary conservation practices make a tremendous difference as we work to support our local farmers while protecting and sustaining our precious natural resources for generations to come," Senator Coons said. "Delaware farmers continue to raise the bar when it comes to committing themselves to best management practices that protect and preserve the land they farm, as well as the natural resources that surround them. What has been accomplished in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed should not only be celebrated, but should also serve as a model for other areas in the state, region and the nation."
NRCS staff has helped landowners voluntarily apply or construct nearly 300 waste storage facilities, over 150,000 acres of nutrient management to regulate nutrient application, and nearly 70,000 feet of terraces to prevent soil erosion.
ST. GEORGES, Del. –Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Rep. John Carney joined federal, state and local officials to announce the naming of the Michael N. Castle Trail at the C&D Canal. Monday also marked the groundbreaking of the first phase of the approximately 16-mile long shared-use recreational trail along the north side of the C&D Canal. The trail will create safe new recreational opportunities along the canal where people can hike, bicycle, jog, skate, bird watch and ride horses.
“Mike Castle long ago embraced the notion that the C&D Canal is like an emerald necklace draped across the northern portion of our beautiful state, and I am so very pleased that this jewel will be named after our dear friend,” Chris said. “Quite a few Delawareans, including Mike Castle, have worked hard over nearly eight years to transform this path into a greenway, and I’m pleased today we’re celebrating the groundbreaking. I look forward to the day when my family and I can join others in exploring the beauty of the C&D Canal via the Michael N. Castle Trail.”
As one of America's first commercial corridors, this canal has been an important part of Delaware’s economy since the early 1830's,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. “182 years later, the C&D Canal continues to demonstrate its significance by creating jobs for workers and expanding recreational access through improved transportation options for bicyclists, hikers, joggers and others.”
DelDOT is responsible for construction of the trail along the canal, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The C&D Canal has been in operation since 1829 and today it is one of the busiest working waterways in the world. The canal is a critical commercial waterway serving the Ports of Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work to preserve the environment.
The News Journal reported Wednesday on a new study by the nonprofit Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which found that outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, camping, cycling and wildlife viewing contribute nearly $4 billion annually to the economy on the Delmarva Peninsula. While Delaware’s conservation areas are a draw for many tourists in the area, limited public access and infrastructure has kept the ecotourism industry from expanding to its full potential.
Here in Delaware, O'Mara said state and local officials need to do more to market what he describes as a "conservation economy."
The state can help with things such as protecting more land, and providing access through boat ramps and bird-viewing platforms.
But entrepreneurs need to step up and provide guide services, food, lodging and equipment, he said. Even commercial fishermen could tap into the market by providing tours in their off-season.
Senator Chris Coons knows that ecotourism and environmental conservation go hand-in-hand. He has worked in collaboration with other members of the Delaware Congressional delegation and state government to oversee construction of a recreational trail for joggers, walkers, cyclists, and equestrians along the banks of the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal. Once completed, this trail will allow easier access for Delawareans to enjoy the local environment.
Click here to read the full article on The News Journal’s website.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work on protecting the environment.
Earth Day is a day for us to take a step back and recognize the importance of our natural resources to our health, economy, and way of life.
The environmental challenges facing our nation, and our planet, can seem daunting at times. From climate change, to water scarcity, to species extinctions, these issues are all incredibly complicated and will require long term, comprehensive, and international solutions. However, Chris believes that it is important for us to remember that there are simple things we can do in our everyday lives that can help. You can save resources by reusing and recycling containers and materials; save energy by turning off lights, appliances, and computers; save water by turning off faucets; and you can help wildlife by building bat boxes, keeping a bird feeder, and planting native plants in your yard. These things may seem small, but if everyone did a little, together, we can do a lot. These efforts lead to real, positive impacts for the environment, and can help change the way we look at environmental problems.
Chris also believes that it is important for us all to get out and enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible. Doing so will help us enjoy our open spaces, stay healthy, and connect with our neighbors and broader community. Chris is proud of Delaware’s efforts to create a more livable state, with its Walkable, Bikeable, Delaware plan, which will create a coherent vision for biking and walking infrastructure in Delaware and invest in new recreation opportunities and alternate means for transportation. One of the projects Chris has been helping to lead is the development of a recreational trail along the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal. The trail will connect Delaware City with Chesapeake City, create jobs, link communities, and serve as a regional destination for the hikers, bicyclists, joggers, horseback riders, and anglers. Construction of the trail is expected to begin this May. Chris is also very supportive of programs that conserve habitat, farmland, and our hunting heritage, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), and the suite of farm bill conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program (FRPP), and Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
While Chris understands that fossil fuels will continue to play an important role in the near term, he firmly believes that we need to be making alternative choices for the future. Developing innovative forms of renewable and low carbon energy are critical not only to protecting our environment but also to our long-term economic competitiveness. There is state-of-the-art research and development will depend on both public and private investments across the country in the areas of solar, wind, thermal, and biomass energy as well as with energy capture and storage technology that could transform our economy. It is important for the federal government to ensure that this critical research continues to receive the resources it needs. In particular, Chris is focused on promoting the next generation of advanced biofuels, deploying more renewables and energy efficiency into the electricity system, and helping Delaware to become the first state to deploy large-scale wind energy technology off its coast. Imagine the immense benefits to our economy, environment, and our way of life from manufacturing more clean energy products in Delaware and powering our homes with home-grown wind energy.
Happy Earth Day!
Senator Coons joined his colleagues in the Senate in passing a bipartisan two-year transportation reauthorization last week. This bill includes funding for Amtrak and passenger rail programs, freight rail, bus and public transit, as well as bicycling and pedestrian program. In addition, the reauthorization saves or creates 2.9 million jobs and is fully paid for.
The bill also took a big step towards finally fixing the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) by including a “sense of the Senate” resolution stating we must act to address the chronic backlog of harbor maintenance projects at ports across the country. The resolution supports a bill introduced by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the bipartisan Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011, a revenue-neutral bill that requires the fees collected from the HMTF to be used for just that purpose, maintaining ports nationwide.
Currently, importers must pay a fee for utilization of U.S. ports, which is deposited into the HMTF to pay for operation and maintenance of our nations harbors. In recent years the fund has generated a surplus of over $5 billion. However, that surplus is not being spent on our maritime infrastructure, despite the fact that our navigable channels and ports are deteriorating.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the nation’s 59 busiest ports are available less than 35% of the time because they are inadequately maintained. Chris believes this situation is holding back economic growth and job creation and that we must act to ensure that we have the necessary resources to maintain our ports and rivers, which is why he is a cosponsor of the Harbor Maintenance Act.
In 2010 alone, the ports and waterways of the United States were responsible for more than $1.4 trillion in waterborne commerce. The Port of Wilmington is critical to Delaware’s economy and is North America's number one seaport for imports of fresh fruit, bananas, and juice concentrate. The port’s operations generated over 4,300 direct jobs and about 12,500 related jobs in 2011. Under-maintained maritime channels increase the risk of groundings and the cost of shipping, potentially damaging Delaware’s environment and economy.
This issue is important to the Port of Wilmington and full funding of the HMTF is supported by the Delaware Maritime community and the local International Longshoreman’s Association. Chris has been a vocal supporter of the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and believes that they will not only create jobs in the short run but also enhance our long-term economic competitiveness.
While this “sense of the Senate” resolution is an important step and puts the Senate on the record as supporting the goals of the Harbor Maintenance Act, it is not binding and stronger legislation is needed to ensure that the Port of Wilmington and other ports and their commercial waterways remain safe and open for business. Chris will continue to advocate for the bi-partisan Harbor Maintenance Act and hopes that the Senate will act soon on this legislation.
Senator Chris Coons met with members of the Delaware Farm Bureau on Tuesday to discuss the past, present, and future of Delaware’s agricultural sector. Senator Tom Carper and Representative John Carney were also in attendance.
During the meeting, Chris highlighted some of his current work to advance Delaware’s agriculture, including his support for reauthorization of the farm bill. Chris is very supportive of conservation programs in the farm bill, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and is working to protect funding for them. He is also a cosponsor of Senator Debbie Stabenow’s Grow it Here, Make it Here Biobased Manufacturing Act, which would help expand the advanced biofuels and bio-based manufacturing industries, using agricultural goods to make value-added products and create jobs.
Additionally, Chris discussed his recent visit to Cuba and Colombia in February with several other members of Congress where he promoted Delaware products, including poultry, soybeans, and soft red winter wheat.
The Farm Bureau meeting occurred on the same day as an announcement by the White House to sharpen efforts to protect the U.S. poultry industry and ensure fair trade policies with India. Chris was a leader in the Senate on this issue, leading a bipartisan group of 19 senators on a letter to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging him to resolve India’s longstanding, non-scientifically based restrictions on American poultry.
Click here to learn more about Chris’ work for supporting and expanding Delaware agriculture.