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December 03, 2020

Collins, King Legislation Curbing Plastic Marine Debris Unanimously Passes Senate

Save Our Seas 2.0 Act heads to President’s desk, addressing plastic and trash polluting ocean, harming marine life, and washing up on American shores

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) applauded the passage of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act by the U.S. Senate. The bipartisan bill, introduced in June, seeks to tackle the problem of plastic waste on a global scale by spurring innovation and finding uses for the plastic waste that already exists to keep it from entering the oceans. The legislation builds on the initial progress made by the Save Our Seas Act, which was signed into law in October 2018. 

“Countless jobs in Maine and in coastal communities across our country rely on the health of the ocean.  The Maine lobster, aquaculture, and tourism industries are among the many critical sectors of our economy that are dependent on Maine’s pristine waters,” said Senator Collins.  “I look forward to seeing this legislation become law, which will help to accelerate the removal of plastic waste and prevent future marine debris, protecting this vital resource for generations to come.”

“Maine’s waters and Maine’s well-being are inextricably linked – meaning any threat to our oceans is also a threat to the livelihood of Maine people,” said Senator King. “This bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction as we work to protect our ocean so future generations can access its widespread economic potential, as well as experience its unparalleled beauty. I’m pleased to see our bill pass the Senate and look forward to the President signing it into law for the benefit of generations to come.”

Roughly eight million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste from land enters the oceans each year.  Ninety percent of this plastic enters the oceans from ten rivers, eight of which are in Asia.  The plastic breaks down into tiny pieces that can enter the marine food chain and harm fish and wildlife and wash ashore on even the most isolated stretches of coastline.  Plastic has been found in areas as remote as the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the ocean.

Earlier this year, Senator Collins was honored with the Congressional Champion of 2019 Award from ConservAmerica for her leadership in conservation and clean energy initiatives at the organization’s annual dinner. To honor his lifelong environmental stewardship and advocacy, Senator King received the inaugural “Hero” Award last month from the National Park Foundation. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is also cosponsored by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),  Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

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