Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate has voted unanimously to pass the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, legislation to tackle the plastic pollution crisis threatening coastal economies and harming marine life. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in introducing the three-part measure last June. SOS 2.0 builds on the success of the original Save Our Seas Act, introduced by Sullivan and Whitehouse, and signed into law in 2018.
“As marine debris and plastic waste continues to threaten public health and economic prosperity of coastal communities in New Jersey and around the globe, the U.S. Senate speaks with one voice by unanimously passing our Save our Seas Act 2.0 to bolster U.S. capacities and leadership in the global effort against plastic pollution,” said Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This legislation takes important steps to protect our coastal waters that support everything from fishing and recreation to trade through our ports and harbors.
“I am committed to continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure this bill is signed into law as soon as possible.”
The act is comprised of three main pieces: strengthening the country’s domestic marine debris response capability with a Marine Debris Foundation, a genius prize for innovation, and new research to tackle the issue; enhancing global engagement to combat marine debris, including formalizing U.S. policy on international cooperation, enhancing federal agency outreach to other countries and exploring the potential for a new international agreement on the challenge; and improving domestic infrastructure to prevent marine debris through new grants for and studies of waste management and mitigation.
The measure was drafted in consultation with environmental and industry experts. It was designed to build on existing clean ocean legislation, and to do so with bipartisan support.
Each of the bill’s components was reviewed and passed by a committee of jurisdiction – the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.