WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) released the following statement today calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reinstate the agency's helicopter monitoring for floatable debris that could endanger the Jersey Shore:

"Since 1977, the EPA has deployed a helicopter to search for floating debris along New Jersey's Atlantic Coast. The daily summertime flights allow EPA to locate large slicks of debris and coordinate cleanup with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, the program takes water quality samples to monitor the health of New Jersey's shellfish beds. These efforts have helped make the Jersey Shore the jewel it is today, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. With the summer just around the corner, continuing the 'Coastal Crusader' program is vital to both the environmental and economic health of the Jersey Shore.

"The Agency's decision to eliminate the helicopter monitoring program is foolish and potentially dangerous. Floating debris threatens marine life, and poses a public health risk to swimmers, fishermen and others along the Jersey Shore. We cannot allow this vital area to return to a time when beachgoers had to fear medical and chemical waste and raw sewage washing up along the shore. We urge the EPA to reconsider.