Historic Oceans Package, WRDA 2022 Passes as Part of Annual Defense Bill

Landmark Ocean Conservation Package and Water Resources Legislation Championed by Huffman Passes House

December 08, 2022

Washington, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02), voted to pass the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included one of the largest packages of ocean and Great Lakes bills in decades, aimed at addressing the global climate crisis by protecting and conserving oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 also passed as part of this year’s NDAA and included key North Coast and environmental priorities authored by Representative Jared Huffman.

“As usual with the nation’s bloated defense budget, I have serious concerns that we’re pouring too much money into the Pentagon’s unnecessary slush fund,” said Rep. Huffman. “However, my colleagues and I were able to successfully negotiate to improve this flawed bill – securing unprecedented victories for our oceans and water resources development at a time when climate change and drought are ravaging the globe. And thanks to the persistent opposition from my fellow progressives and environmental justice communities all across the country, we were able to block Sen. Manchin’s dirty permitting reform deal from getting attached to this must-pass bill.

“In my role as Chair of the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee I have worked on countless efforts to safeguard our oceans – from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to eliminating the sale of shark fins in the United States, to improving our understanding and conservation of marine mammals, all of which made it into the final package. In the remaining and productive days of a House Democratic majority, this was an important opportunity to get these priorities across the finish line” he concluded.

Rep. Huffman has chaired numerous hearings, sponsored and supported legislation, and written many letters related to the ocean policy measures included in the oceans package. Key provisions the congressman advocated for will:

  • Prevent illegal fishing and forced labor in the seafood supply chain.  This title strengthens laws surrounding illegal fishing and forced labor, originating from Rep. Huffman’s bipartisan H.R. 3075, the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act, which he led along with Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). Rep. Huffman has led numerous Subcommittee hearings on this topic and championed related provisions that passed the House as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act.
  • Eliminate shark fin sales in the United States, an issue that Rep. Huffman has fought since he first came to Congress and supported by consistently cosponsoring the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act.  The section prohibits the domestic sale of shark fins and creates a violation penalty under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
  • Enhance marine mammal conservation, research, and stranding response; Rep. Huffman has worked to protect marine mammals his entire career. This provision contains several measures to aid marine mammals, including creating a "Marine Mammal Health Monitoring and Analysis Platform", and providing for conservation and grant programs that harness technology to reduce ocean noise, monitor marine mammals and help vessels avoid them, and improve technology for marine mammal conservation.
  • Study stormwater impacts on salmon, a threat to our salmon populations that we are only beginning to understand. Rep. Huffman has attended hearings on this topic, including the threat of the tire chemical 6PPD-quinone, and led investigatory letters to the administration.
  • Restore resilient coral reefs with a reauthorized and updated Coral Reef Conservation Act to better address climate change, ecosystem loss, disease outbreaks, and other threats.

A full list of the House Natural Resources Provisions included in the FY2023 NDAA can be found here.

Rep. Huffman also championed two major provisions in NDAA to benefit the Bay Area and advance the transition to clean energy vehicles:

  • An authorization for the San Francisco Bay restoration grant program. These funds will help improve water quality, protect endangered species, natural habitats, and wetlands, as well as fortify coastal communities against the damaging effects of sea level rise in the Bay Area.
  • A requirement for the Department of Defense to replace its non-tactical vehicles to zero or low emission by the end of 2030.

The Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 included numerous provisions Rep. Huffman promoted, including:

  • A study to evaluate site opportunities for the beneficial reuse of dredge material for the City of Petaluma's tidal wetland located adjacent to the City's temporary dredge spoils site.
  • A broad study to assess the economic, environmental, and technical feasibility for the deployment and implement of floating solar panels on Army Corps managed reservoirs, infrastructure, and other and facilities.
  • Direction for the Army Corps to expedite the completion of projects, including Coyote Valley Dam, Hamilton Wetlands Restoration Project—Phase 2 Bel Marin Keys, Resilient San Francisco Bay Beneficial Use Pilot Project, and the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operation, Phase 3

Rep. Huffman’s requests for funding for local environmental infrastructure projects were also included in the WRDA package. Members were limited to five requests per district:

  • Healdsburg Aquifer Storage and Recovery Wells - City of Healdsburg - $8.5 Million
    This project would aid in the design and installation of up to three Aquifer Storage and Recover (ASR) wells to store up to 490 acre-feet of water for use during droughts. 
  • Healdsburg Recycled Water Offset Drought Mitigation - City of Healdsburg - $15 Million
    The project would construct a 4.5-mile distribution network to deliver recycled water from the treatment facility to municipal users - parks, schools, athletic fields, cemetery, etc. - offsetting approximately 40 million gallons of potable water.
  • Marin Strategic Water Supply Assessment - Marin Municipal Water District - $28 Million
    The assessment would identify options and inform local decisions on water supply enhancement to enhance regional water resiliency within Marin and the North Bay more broadly.
  • Petaluma Recycled Water Expansion- City of Petaluma - $13.7 Million
    The Recycled Water Expansion project would include Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility (ECWRF) Treatment Capacity Increase, Maria Drive Urban Pipeline Expansion, and Adobe Road Agriculture Pipeline Expansion. 
  • Tolowa Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements - Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation - $25 Million
    This project would replace wastewater infrastructure serving 150 low-income households in a mobile home park that was purchased by the Nation.