SAN CLEMENTE, CA – The Surfrider Foundation is pleased to announce that its long sought after goal of national water quality standards is one step closer to becoming a reality. With a nearly unanimous, 17-1 vote, the S. 522 Beaches Environmental Awareness and Coastal Health Act of 2000 (B.E.A.C.H. bill) sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (R-NJ) was passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) this morning. Led by Chairman Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), the committee members showed great bipartisan support for the B.E.A.C.H. bill legislation that proposes to establish consistent nationwide standards for beach water quality monitoring, testing and notification. The House of Representative’s version of the B.E.A.C.H. bill (HR 999) passed by unanimous consent on Earth Day last year and was written with assistance from Surfrider Foundation National Legal Issues Team member, Gary Sirota, Esq.
“This is a huge step towards getting this important legislation enacted,” said Surfrider Foundation’s Executive Director, Chris Evans. “Surfrider Foundation has been involved in this for many, many years and we’re excited that we’re one step closer to clean water. After all, our members wear that water everyday.”
Currently water quality standards vary wildly from state to state. In fact, several states lack any testing or monitoring of their coastal water quality. It was this lack of any national standards that inspired Surfrider to establish their Blue Water Task Force volunteer water-quality testing program in 1991. This program helped shed light on the often-overlooked water quality problems in our coastal areas and provided the public with valuable information about the health of their local beach.
“The leadership of new EPW Committee Chairman, Senator Bob Smith on this issue has been refreshing,” said Surfrider’s Federal Policy Analyst Darryl Hatheway. “This morning’s vote is the result of a collaborative effort between Sen. Lautenberg, EPW committee members, and stakeholders such as Surfrider Foundation, American Oceans Campaign, Coastal States Organization, Center For Marine Conservation, and the EPA.”
The other Senate EPW committee members supporting the BEACH bill included: Sen. John Warner (R-VA), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The lone vote against came from Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) from the Great Lakes region.
The Surfrider Foundation is a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, for all people, through conservation, activism, research and education (C.A.R.E.). Surfrider Foundation currently has 48 grassroots chapters and 25,000 members in the U.S.