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Reps. Wittman, Pingree Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Waterfront Jobs and Industries

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Washington, May 19, 2016 | comments

WASHINGTON – Representatives Rob Wittman (VA-01) and Chellie Pingree (ME-01) have introduced legislation to protect the waterfront access and infrastructure that many businesses—and thousands of jobs—depend on in Virginia, Maine, and localities throughout the U.S.

"Deteriorating waterfronts don’t just hurt our economy, they hurt our communities," said Wittman. "These waterfronts support businesses, provide access to water, vitalize the economy, and improve quality of life for folks all over the country. Unfortunately, pressure from population growth and development threaten to destroy Virginia’s many water-dependent industries and displace families that have deep cultural ties to the area. This legislation will protect communities along our coasts by supporting maritime industry, protecting vital jobs, and preserving our natural resources."

“The importance of Maine’s coastline to our state’s economy can’t be understated. It’s not only the reason millions of people visit our state every year, but many industries—like fishing, boat yards, and aquaculture—simply can’t operate without it,” said Pingree. “Development pressures mean that we’ve lost an enormous amount of working waterfront in recent decades. To ensure the future of these critical industries, Maine and other coastal states need tools to protect waterfront access and infrastructure. And that’s what our bill aims to do.”

The Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act would establish a Working Waterfront Grant Program that would provide matching, competitive grants to coastal states. The grants would go toward preserving and expanding access to coastal waters for commercial fishing, recreational guiding, aquaculture, boat building, and other water-dependent businesses.

The bill would also create a Working Waterfront Task Force at the Department of the Interior. The task force would identify and prioritize critical working waterfront needs with respect to their cultural and economic importance, climate change and other environmental threats, and market conditions for water-dependent businesses. It would also identify working waterfronts within communities.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.

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