VIDEO: Congresswoman Pingree Testifies in Favor of Her Bill to Protect America’s Working Waterfronts
1st District Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Support Coastal Communities Grappling with the Climate Crisis
Washington, June 22, 2021
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on her bipartisan bill to preserve America’s working waterfronts, the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act. Pingree’s bill was included as a part of the larger Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act, comprehensive legislation to modernize federal ocean management policy to mitigate climate change.
Pingree delivered remarks before the House Natural Resources Committee in favor of the Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act, emphasizing the inclusion of the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act. A video of her remarks is available online here and a transcript is provided below:
Thank you, Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Westerman for giving me the opportunity to speak in support of the Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act. This legislation includes my bipartisan bill with Congressman Wittman, the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act.
Throughout my time in Congress, I have advocated for the needs of coastal communities and those who use our working waterfronts. I am grateful to have a chance to discuss this bill with you today.
I know members of this Committee hear regularly from constituents who make their living from the water. Whether they are boatbuilders from the West Coast, seafood buyers and processors across America, recreational fishing guides in the Gulf of Mexico, or commercial fishermen and aquaculture business owners in New England, the refrain is the same: water-dependent businesses from coast to coast need our help. They want us to preserve access to the working waterfronts that make their livelihoods possible and keep our coastal economies thriving.
More than thirty thousand Mainers rely on marine-related industries for their livelihoods. In fact, at home we refer to this as a “Heritage Industry” because it is so ingrained in the fabric of our state. Yet out of five thousand miles of coastline, just twenty miles of working waterfronts remain in my state.
Across the country, working waterfronts are rapidly disappearing due to heavy development pressure. When fishermen must grapple with the loss of wharves, processing facilities, and other essential infrastructure in addition to navigating the challenge of climate change, it threatens the very survival of coastal communities.
Congress can contribute to the great work that states are already doing by expanding access to funding and resources. We don’t need to duplicate efforts, but we can provide more support for states to preserve coastal economies.
I have been proud to work across the aisle with my colleagues, including Congressman Wittman of Virginia, to create bipartisan solutions that can work for America’s coastal communities.
This bill will help reverse a worrying trend of shrinking waterfronts, while simultaneously protecting jobs and preserving the character of our coastal communities.
It establishes a Working Waterfront Grant Program for waterfront preservation and sets up a Task Force within the Department of Commerce to identify and prioritize critical needs for our nation’s working waterfronts.
Through the task force, the bill will also help communities identify and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.
These programs are voluntary, so states can opt in to the programming this bill would create. Through the creation of statewide working waterfront plans, each state can identify their own needs and create their own plans to address the unique challenges facing their working waterfronts.
It has been gratifying to hear so many proposals to solve the problems facing our coastal communities today. Working waterfronts are an integral part of our coastal economies, communities, and traditions. We must do our part to ensure they survive into the future. I would welcome the opportunity for the Committee to move this bill.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
I yield back.
The Keep America's Waterfronts Working Act would create a Working Waterfront Grant Program and establish a Working Waterfront Task Force at the Department of Commerce. These resources would support coastal communities grappling with the climate crisis and preserve the character of coastal communities by protecting jobs and small businesses.
The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act provides a strategic roadmap for ocean climate action and meaningful steps towards protecting the habitat and ecosystems that humanity depends upon. This comprehensive bill integrates evidence-based approaches to protect our ocean and coastal communities, promote sustainable job opportunities, and support clean offshore energy while reducing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis.
Pingree has long advocated for federal resources to help Maine communities preserve and expand shoreline access and infrastructure for water-dependent industries such as fishing, processing, boat building, and aquaculture. She first introduced legislation to protect working waterfronts in the 111th Congress.