Lawmakers Stress Concern Over Funding Levels For Beach Replenishment In Administrations' Budget

Lawmakers Stress Concern Over Funding Levels For Beach Replenishment In Administrations' Budget

Washington - U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. applauded the administration's policy change to allow beach replenishment projects to compete for funding in the budget. However, they expressed concern that the administration's Fiscal Year 2010 budget only allocated $45 million for beach replenishment projects nationwide, an amount the Army Corps of Engineers' could use for New Jersey projects alone.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has established strict guidelines for funding beach replenishment projects, which effectively eliminate most of the ongoing beach replenishment projects around the country, including in New Jersey.

"The policy change reflected in the President's budget does not go far enough to ensure that we get the dollars we need for shore protection," Pallone said. "By applying arbitrary budget criteria, OMB is allowing projects, like those in New Jersey that have been prioritized by the Army Corps, to go unfunded."

"Preserving the Jersey Shore is essential to protect our economy, to save families' property and to defend our state against dangers of global warming," Menendez said. "Working toward these goals is important for an economic recovery and long-term economic security for our families. This level of beach replenishment funds is concerning, and we will work in Congress to secure the necessary investment in our Shore communities."

The New Jersey lawmakers have been fighting to secure funding for these crucial projects since OMB made the decision to exclude shovel-ready beach replenishment projects from receiving funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Beach replenishment projects spur economic growth by creating jobs and promoting tourism in coastal communities," Pallone said. "The projects are also important for protecting communities from weather disasters and rising sea levels. We should leave it up to the experts at the Army Corps to decide which projects are the most important, instead of allowing arbitrary OMB criteria decide for us."

The lawmakers plan to meet with OMB in the upcoming weeks to try and change this policy for the future. For now, they will concentrate on the appropriations process, which makes all funding decisions.

"Once again, it looks like we will have to fight in Congress to fund beach replenishment in our district based on the Army Corps' priorities," Pallone said. "This will likely mean fewer dollars, but it is the best we can do for the next fiscal year."