Bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act Signed into Law

SOS 2.0 is America’s most comprehensive marine debris legislation ever

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), today welcomed the signing of the Save Our Seas (SOS) 2.0 Act, the most comprehensive legislation ever passed by Congress to address the plastic debris crisis threatening coastal ecosystems and communities, and harming marine life. 

“After two years of collaboration, hard work and advocacy, I am incredibly excited to announce that the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is now the law of the land,” said Senator Sullivan. “This historic accomplishment is the result of so many people who love our oceans: members of Congress who span the country and political spectrum, members of the administration, stakeholders in industry and environmental groups, and everyday citizens. SOS 2.0 will improve America’s ability to clean up waste, advance international cooperation with nations responsible for the majority of trash entering the oceans, and explore innovative ways to manage and even reuse plastic waste. This bill will be particularly important for Alaska, a state that disproportionately experiences the impact of ocean debris with our thousands of miles of coastline. I commend President Trump for signing SOS 2.0 into law, and I also thank my colleagues—Sheldon Whitehouse, Bob Menendez, Suzanne Bonamici, Don Young, and all of the other cosponsors—for being such strong partners and champions for our oceans, fisheries, wildlife and coastal communities.”

“Save Our Seas 2.0 is officially law—another milestone in our effort to clean up marine debris and ocean plastic pollution across the globe,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-founded the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus to find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts. “I’m grateful for the bipartisan partnership of Senators Sullivan and Menendez on this issue. We’re already hard at work expanding on the laws we’ve passed to tackle the scourge of plastic waste washing up on shores from coast to coast.”

“I am thrilled to witness this monumental legislation be signed into law to bolster U.S. leadership and global engagement in confronting the plastic waste and marine debris crisis,” Senator Menendez said. “Pollution in our world’s oceans is a global problem with dramatic and enduring implications for our livelihoods and well-being. As a landmark bipartisan environmental victory, SOS 2.0 represents a stepping stone toward greater collaboration and progress in our efforts to preserve a most vital resource that sustains life today and will provide for generations to come.”

“Across the globe, our widespread use of plastics is polluting our ocean and exacerbating the climate crisis,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Save Our Seas 2.0 is an important step to strengthen the NOAA Marine Debris Program and invest in infrastructure to prevent the mismanagement of plastic waste, and I am glad it was signed into law. I will continue working with my fellow House and Senate Oceans Caucus colleagues to advance comprehensive action to minimize the production of new plastics, remove waste, reduce pollution, and protect the health of our ocean.”

"This is a great day for our oceans, marine ecosystems, and the countless communities they support. Our state is home to more coastline than any other, and Alaskans know that healthy oceans are essential to our economy and way of life," said Congressman Don Young. "Serving as House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair has allowed me to stand up and fight for Alaska's waters, and I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish in both the House and Senate. Save Our Seas 2.0 builds on our successes in combating marine debris by bolstering plastics research and providing funding crucial for infrastructure improvements. Countless Alaskan families earn a living on the water; clean oceans are not just an environmental issue, but an economic one as well. I am sincerely grateful to my friend and Oceans Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, for fighting alongside me to get this bill across the finish line and signed into law. Our Senator, Dan Sullivan, has been an unwavering leader on this issue, and I am especially grateful for his efforts in the Senate to get this done. There is still work ahead of us in the 117th Congress. I will continue fighting to ensure that our marine ecosystems stay healthy and productive for generations to come."

The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act is composed of three main pieces:

  1. Strengthening the United States’ domestic marine debris response capability with a Marine Debris Foundation, a genius prize for innovation, and new research to tackle the issue.
  2. Enhancing global engagement to combat marine debris, including formalizing U.S. policy on international cooperation, enhancing federal agency outreach to other countries, and exploring the potential for a new international agreement on the challenge. 
  3. Improving domestic infrastructure to prevent marine debris through new grants for and studies of waste management and mitigation.

SOS 2.0 builds on the success of the Save Our Seas Act, introduced by Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse in the Senate, and Representatives Bonamici and Young in the House, and signed into law by President Trump in October 2018.

# # #