Washington - U.S.Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill for theNational Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) that includes specific language preventing the closure of NOAA's James J. Howard lab in Sandy Hook.

"We've taken an important step to keep the doors of the Howard Lab open and its successful research operation up and running,"saidLautenberg,a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), which funds NOAA."The Howard Labis critical to New Jersey's fishermen, families and coastal economyand its closure would jeopardize valuable research into the effects of urban areas on our fisheries and oceans. Through efforts in the Senate, we are making progress to keep the Howard Lab open."

"This lab isessential to supporting our fishing industry and fishing jobs, maintaining the health of our oceans and understanding the impacts of climate change," said Menendez. "I have met many dedicated professionals at the Howard Lab and I'm hopeful they will remain there for years to come. It's gratifying to see our advocacy pay off - putting us one step closer to saving this great facility."

As a member of theCJSSubcommittee, Senator Lautenbergsecured theinclusionoflanguage to prohibit closure of the Sandy Hook lab in the SenateFY 2013CJSAppropriations bill, which fundsNOAA. The bill was approved by the CJS Subcommittee on Tuesday and by the full Appropriations Committee today. Senator Lautenberg inserted the language to save the labafter NOAA'sbudgetrequest proposedclosingit. The bill must now be approved by the full Senate.

In February,Senators Lautenberg and Menendezcalled onSenateAppropriations Committee leaders toprovide the necessary funding to preservethe NOAA lab in Sandy Hook. Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Representative FrankPallone (D-NJ-6) recently visited the lab andsent a letterto President Obama urging the Administration to reconsiderits decision to close it.

Currently, the Howard lab performs critical research onmaintaining healthy fisheries and protecting the ocean environment from the impacts of climate change. The labhas nearly 50 employees and toutsuniqueresearch facilities, including11 seawater labs, a 32,000 gallon aquarium, and a 49-foot research vessel.