Cantwell has been a leading proponent of getting a comprehensive plan in place that addresses the threat posed by tsunami debris. Last week, the Senate passed legislation containing several key provisions championed by Cantwell, including an amendment that would elevate national attention on tsunami debris.
Cantwell’s amendment would direct the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to form an interagency task force to develop a tsunami debris cleanup plan, if the head of NOAA determines that the debris constitutes a “severe marine debris event.” NOAA’s administrator must determine if the debris constitutes a “severe marine debris event” within 30 days of the bill becoming law. The legislation, The Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 (HR 2838), is currently pending before President Obama to become law.
In addition to pushing for a debris removal plan, Cantwell also is working to secure federal support for cleanup. On December 10, 2012, Cantwell joined five other senators in a bipartisan request for a $20 million federal investment for debris removal in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Cantwell has long maintained that the states alone should not bear the financial burden of cleanup. With the current situation, the massive Japanese dock washed up on a Washington state beach located on federal land, which would make it the federal government’s responsibility to address.
On May 17, 2012, during the first tsunami debris oversight hearing, Cantwell demanded answers of NOAA on what the nation’s plan is to address and respond to tsunami debris.
Cantwell continues to fight to ensure the federal government recognizes the threat posed by tsunami debris and mobilizes an aggressive response and resources for monitoring and cleanup. Washington state’s coastal economy supports 165,000 jobs and produces $10.8 billion in economic activity each year.