U.S. Senator David Vitter has announced that his bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the National Estuary Program (NEP) has passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, and will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Vitter’s bill provides critical funding for 4.2 million acres of wetlands in Louisiana.
Authorization for the NEP expired in 2010, and Vitter has introduced legislation each Congress to reauthorize the program. In 2015, Vitter and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse coauthored the reauthorization legislation to continue protecting and restoring critical estuaries, and passed through the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Vitter’s legislation will improve the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), which spans 4.2 million acres of wetlands in southeast Louisiana.
Historically, Louisiana’s estuaries have safeguarded thousands of square miles of land along the coast – including some of the nation’s busiest ports, high yielding fisheries and vast oil and mineral deposits. 80 percent of all coastal wetland loss in the lower 48 states occurs in Louisiana, with its estuaries accounting for nearly 40 percent of the entire make-up of United States estuarine marshes.