The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agreed to work together to help coastal communities grow in ways that benefit the economy, public health and the environment. The partnership was formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement.
The new coastal communities partnership will seek to deliver the latest information and technology to communities for reusing previously developed land and providing more housing and transportation choices, while preserving critical natural areas and limiting air and water pollution. These techniques are important strategies for limiting air and water pollution, preserving land and enhancing quality of life. The agreement will help NOAA and EPA achieve national goals for better management of coastal resources and protection of human health and the environment.
The partnership results from a major goal of the Bush Administration to have federal agencies coordinate with state, tribal and local stakeholders to develop comprehensive cooperative conservation strategies to protect the nation's coastal resources.
The EPA-NOAA Partnership will provide training for local government staff and officials; outreach and education on successful policies, ordinances and initiatives; and assessments of the impacts of management actions on sensitive coastal areas.
"The agreement provides another tool to help coastal communities advance environmental, economic, and public health," said Steve Johnson, EPA acting administrator.
"This agreement will facilitate the development of management strategies that ensure continued conservation of coastal and marine habitats while at the same time make certain that coastal zone residents continue to benefit from the tremendous economic potential available there," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
EPA and NOAA will announce the MOA at the Fourth Annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference at the Deauville Beach Resort Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. The conference, co-sponsored by EPA and NOAA, is looking at a range of cutting-edge growth issues nationwide. More than one-thousand participants, including local elected officials, real estate developers, government agencies and citizen leaders, are attending this event. The conference is also another example of how EPA and NOAA are collaborating to bring the latest tools, information and expertise to coastal communities looking for better ways to grow.
Coastal watersheds (areas draining into bays and oceans) are growing rapidly, with 55 percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coast. In the past 20 years, the rate of all land development nationwide has grown 30 percent, twice the rate of population growth. This rapid growth presents coastal communities with both challenges and opportunities.
The partnership is the second between NOAA and EPA focused on coastal communities. In 2003 the agencies established a joint program to assist local port and harbor communities redevelop brownfields. The Portfields Memorandum of Understanding is already producing results in New Bedford, Mass., Bellingham, Wash. and Tampa, Fla., with new waterfront efforts underway. The efforts have shown that communities can respond in innovative ways that not only create jobs while protecting rivers, watersheds and beaches, but also maintain the quality of life that makes coastal communities attractive for development.
EPA's Office of Water and Office of Policy Economics, and Innovation will collaborate with NOAA to implement the agreement.