At the beginning of the month, I had the opportunity to travel with Kim Lippert, OEM’s Public Information Officer, up to Astoria to have a meeting with Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. Briana Goodwin from SOLVE, Steve Rumrill from ODFW, David Solomon from ODPR, and Patrick Corcoran from Oregon Sea Grant also attended and took part in a short briefing about what we are seeing occur on our coast in relation to Japan tsunami marine debris (JTMD). The Congresswoman also presented legislation that she is introducing to Congress that is directly related to JTMD cleanup reimbursement.
The first bill, titled “Marine Debris Emergency Act of 2013,” would expedite the current grant award process made through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program. Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has existing grant programs available to assist with debris removal, but the process for awarding these grants is slow and does not account for extreme circumstances. The bipartisan Marine Debris Emergency Act would speed the grant award process and give preference to applicants who are facing a severe marine debris event. Here is a draft of the bill: Marine Debris Emergency Act of 2013
The second bill, titled “Tsunami Debris Cleanup Reimbursement Act,” would give NOAA the authority to use the $5 million provided to the U.S. government by the Government of Japan for the purpose of assisting state governments with funding marine debris cleanup activities they have already undertaken. In December 2012, the Japanese government generously provided the United States government with $5 million to assist with the cleanup and removal of debris from the tsunami; however, because of the statutory language describing their grant authority, NOAA can only provide grants to states for future projects, not those that are already completed. Therefore, this legislation would give the NOAA Administrator authority to reimburse states for the cost of cleanup efforts they have already undertaken to address marine debris from the tsunami. Here is a draft of this bill: Cleanup Reimbursement Act – draft
On April 24, there was a great assembly at Central Elementary School in Albany to celebrate the success of a $1.5 million retrofit project funded by the SRGP. The student assembly was followed by an earthquake drill and a building tour for guests who were interested in seeing all of the retrofit work done to the building. Distinguished guests and experts at the event included: Senator Betsy Close; Albany School District Superintendent Maria Delapoer; Dr. Chris Goldfinger, one of the world’s leading subduction zone earthquake experts from Oregon State University; Albany Mayor Sharon Canopa; Jay Raskin, a commissioner with the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission; and Ryan McGoldrick, Red Cross Preparedness Program Coordinator for the Oregon region.
In reality, Central Elementary School is just one of many schools that have benefited from the SRGP. Since 2009, state-funded seismic retrofit grants have been awarded to 21 K-12 schools, three Oregon community college and university campuses, and 18 public safety facilities deemed in danger during an earthquake. The Governor’s budget requests $30 million for this priority for the next two years, and legislators will decide the final funding level later this spring.