WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the first Delaware senator in more than 40 years to serve on the powerful Appropriations Committee, secured funding for agriculture and environmental priorities in the federal spending bill for Fiscal Year 2021, which passed Congress late Monday.
“Delaware’s natural resources help drive our economy and make our state a great place to live, work, and visit,” said Senator Coons. “I’m pleased that we secured funding for conservation programs that will have a direct impact on our region – protecting our land, water, and wildlife, and supporting our agricultural community. As co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, I’m also glad this bill invests in proven programs like ARPA-E to support research in Delaware and the development of advanced energy technologies that will reduce carbon pollution. This funding will help create a cleaner environment and a stronger local economy in our state, and I’m glad my colleagues came to a bipartisan agreement on this bill so we can support Delawareans and Americans across the country.”
The federal spending bill includes funding for agriculture and environmental priorities that will directly benefit Delaware as well as international and ocean conservation efforts:
- Provides $75 million to address ocean plastic pollution and directs the U.S. government to establish a new global fund to address ocean plastic pollution, as called for in the UNITE for our Oceans Act which Senator Coons recently introduced with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). This is a significant increase from prior funding of $5 million to address marine debris.
- Provides strong funding for the Department of State, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and related agencies to combat wildlife trafficking.
- Provides a full-time position to support the Interagency Working Group on Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing, established in Senator Coons and Roger Wicker’s (R-Miss.) Maritime SAFE Act.
- Includes $46.5 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund to protect wetland habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife species.
- Provides $87.5 million for to help restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, as well as $1.75 million for efforts to remove invasive species in the region.
- Provides $10 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program to improve water quality and management, support restoration and conservation of critical habitats, and improve opportunities for recreation.
- Supports the United States Geological Survey’s efforts to monitor, map, and study the Delaware River Basin.
- Funds U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Delaware that protect coastal communities and support the maintenance and navigability of the Port of Wilmington and the C&D and Lewes and Rehoboth canals.
- Helps farmers in Delaware and across the country practice sustainable agriculture and protect the environment by providing strong funding for programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.
- Includes $63 million for Avian Health programs, which fund critical monitoring and research to prevent and control the spread of poultry diseases in the commercial poultry industry.
- Supports research and public outreach by Delaware universities on agriculture, nutrition, and renewable energy by providing $435 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
- Provides $11 million for the Water Resources Research Act, which supports critical water research at the University of Delaware.
- Provides $75 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program, which supports important marine research at the University of Delaware.
- Supports energy research at Delaware universities by providing $25 million for the Department of Energy’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and increased funding of $427 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
- Includes $5 million to support sustainable chemistry research and development at the Department of Energy and encourages the incorporation of sustainable chemistry in to manufacturing processes. Senators Coons and Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act is expected to become law shortly and promote the use of materials that are safer for our health and the environment in everyday products.
- Provides $310 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help low-income Delawareans reduce their energy costs and $62.5 million to assist states with energy efficiency activities and the development of renewable energy.
The appropriations package also included the first major overhaul of U.S. energy policy in over a decade, which included a number of key provisions to support clean energy jobs, combat climate change, and deliver cost savings to Delawareans.