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Pallone Calls on EPA to Restore Critical Aerial Coastal Monitoring Program

April 28, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called on the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Gina McCarthy, to restore funding for EPA’s Region 2 helicopter monitoring program.  Each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, EPA’s “Coastal Crusader” monitors the waters along the Atlantic Coast for debris, such as trash, oil slicks and algal blooms known as floatables. 

The helicopter monitoring program has operated successfully since 1977 and was modified in 1989 to include the involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  To safeguard coastal waterways in New Jersey and New York, EPA Region 2 has deployed a helicopter to search for floating debris and coordinate cleanups.  The helicopter is also used to collect water samples that are critical to determine the health of shellfish beds.  Pallone learned on Monday that the program had fallen victim to budget cuts.

“I am disappointed to learn that this vital program that helps protect the environmental health of the Jersey Shore has been stopped,” said Pallone.  “As we enter the summer tourism season, our economy is still struggling to recover from the devastating impacts of Superstorm Sandy and we cannot afford for our beaches to be shuttered due to debris washing up along the coast.  EPA’s helicopter monitoring has operated at a nominal cost and has been incredibly successful in spotting and mitigating potential coastal disasters by spotting floatables before they reach the Shore.  Cutting this program could have serious consequences for our tourism economy.”

Pallone placed a call to Administrator McCarthy today asking her to restore the $250,000 program, which helps support New Jersey’s $5.5 billion tourism industry. 

“The work conducted by the Coastal Crusader helicopter is critical to protecting the Shore and this ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ budget cut could have long-lasting impacts,” said Pallone.  “EPA must restore this program immediately to ensure that our beaches are safe for tourists and can continue to support the 550,000 tourism related jobs that depend on them being open for business.”