House Passes Sullivan’s Save Our Seas 2.0 Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are applauding the passage of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act in the House of Representatives today. The Save Our Seas 2.0 Act was introduced in June 2019 to address the plastic debris crisis threatening coastal economies and harming marine life. The legislation seeks to help reduce the creation of plastic waste, find uses for the plastic waste that already exists to keep it from entering the oceans, spur innovation, and tackle the problem on a global scale. It builds on the initial progress secured by the Save Our Seas Act, which was sponsored by Sullivan and Whitehouse and signed into law by President Trump in 2018. The House version of the bill is sponsored by Representatives Don Young (R-Alaska) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.).

“Save Our Seas 2.0, the most comprehensive marine debris legislation ever to pass the U.S. Senate, is now also the most comprehensive bill on the challenge to ever pass Congress,” said Senator Sullivan. “Our legislation will improve our nation’s ability to respond to marine debris events, lead to greater international cooperation on preventing trash from reaching the oceans, and spark innovation to manage and possibly even reuse plastic waste—all with the goal of protecting our pristine environment, fisheries, and coastal communities across our country and, particularly, in Alaska, which has more coastline than the rest of the Lower 48 combined. I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are coming together to address a very important environmental challenge. I look forward to SOS 2.0 passing the Senate and moving onto the President’s desk for his signature, and continuing work on this important issue.”

“We’re one significant step closer to stemming the rising tide of harmful plastic pollution that washes up on beaches and in fishing nets along every coast,” 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 to our oceans allies in the House who approved the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act with strong bipartisan support.  With the success of the original Save Our Seas bill, and now this step for SOS 2.0, we will keep building on our success with 3.0 and other bills, until we have truly addressed the scourge of ocean plastic waste.”

“As marine debris and plastic waste continue to threaten public health and the economic prosperity of coastal communities, I’m so pleased to see our legislation take this giant step forward today,” said Senator Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Save Our Seas Act 2.0 will bolster U.S. capacities and leadership in the global effort against plastic pollution and I am committed to continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get it over the finish line and signed into law.”

“We need to fundamentally change our reliance on plastics,” said Congresswoman Bonamici, who sponsored the House version of the bill.  “A problem this pervasive - a global problem of this magnitude - cannot be solved with a single bill.  We cannot limit our action to removing existing plastic from the ocean, and we also cannot recycle our way out of plastic waste that ends up on our shores.  We need comprehensive action. Save Our Seas 2.0 is a meaningful bill that builds on our foundation of bipartisan, bicameral efforts to strengthen the NOAA Marine Debris Program.  We have significant work ahead of us to prevent marine debris, and I look forward to continuing to work with my House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair, Don Young, and our Senate Oceans Caucus colleagues to protect the health of our ocean.” 

“Alaska is home to more coastline than any other state in the Union, and healthy oceans are essential to Alaska’s economy and way of life,” said Congressman Young. “Serving as House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair has given me the opportunity to stand up and fight for Alaska’s waters, and I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish today. Save Our Seas 2.0 builds on our successes combating marine debris through bolstering plastics research and funding needed 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 on behalf of marine life. Our Senator Dan Sullivan has been a strong leader on this issue, and I am confident that he will help shepherd this bill through the Senate so that we can send it to the President to be signed into law. I will continue fighting to ensure that our marine ecosystems stay healthy and productive for future generations to experience.”

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 remote stretches of coastline. Plastic has been found in areas as remote as the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the ocean.

The Senate, which passed Save Our Seas 2.0 by unanimous consent in January, will need to approve changes made in the House before the bill can be sent to the President to be signed. 


  • July 2020 – Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) regarding U.S. efforts to combat the global marine debris crisis and the Save Our Seas (SOS) 2.0 Act.
  • January 2020 – Senators Sullivan, Whitehouse and Menendez hold a colloquy on the Senate floor discussing the Senate’s unanimous passage of the SOS 2.0 Act
  • January 2020 – The Senate votes unanimously to pass the SOS 2.0 Act.
  • November 2019 – the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee advances the final piece of the SOS 2.0 Act.
  • September 2019 – The Senate Environment and Public Works and the Senate Foreign Relations Committees advance two pieces of the SOS 2.0 Act.
  • July 2019 – Major stakeholders and media organizations react to the SOS 2.0 Act
  • June 2019 – Senators Sullivan, Whitehouse and Menendez introduce the SOS 2.0 Act.
  • February 2019 – A new coalition of private sector businesses form the “Alliance to End Plastic Waste” and pledge $1.5 billion to help address the global marine debris crisis.
  • October 2018 – President Trump signs the Save Our Seas Act into law in an Oval Office ceremony. 
  • September 2018 – The House passes the Save Our Seas Act
  • August 2017 – Sullivan welcomes the director of the Marine Debris Program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to Alaska.
  • August 2017 – The Senate unanimously passes the Save Our Seas Act.
  • July 2017 – Senator Sullivan chairs a hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard regarding the global marine debris crisis.
  • April 2017 – The Save Our Seas Act advances from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
  • March 2017 – Senators Sullivan, Whitehouse and Booker introduce the Save Our Seas Act, legislation that was cosponsored by 19 of their Senate colleagues.
  • January 2017 – Senator Sullivan is named chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.
  • December 2016 – The Senate passes the Marine Debris Act Amendments, introduced by Senators Sullivan and Booker.
  • May 2016 – Senator Sullivan chairs a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife on the marine debris crisis. 

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