Trump Signs Bill to Clean Up Oceans from Trash Floating from Foreign Countries

By Melanie Arter | October 12, 2018 | 3:34pm EDT
President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill Thursday to clean up oceans from millions of tons of floating debris dumped into the ocean annually.

The president said foreign countries like China and Japan are to blame for dumping 8 million tons of debris each year into the world’s oceans, which then floats to the U.S. coast.

“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, and that includes many, many countries. This waste, trash, and debris harms not only marine life, but also fishermen, coastal economies along America’s vast stretches. The bad news is it floats toward us,” Trump said.

“I’ve seen pictures recently, and some of you have seen them, where there’s -- a vast, tremendous, unthinkable amount of garbage is floating right into our coast, in particular along the West Coast. And we’re charged with removing it, which is a very unfair situation. It comes from other countries very far away. It takes six months and a year to float over, but it gets here, and it’s a very unfair situation. It’s also unbelievably bad for the oceans,” he said.


The Save Our Seas Act “amends the Marine Debris Act to revise the Marine Debris Program to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with: (1) other agencies to address both land- and sea-based sources of marine debris, and (2) the Department of State and other agencies to promote international action to reduce the incidence of marine debris.”

The measure “also revises the program by allowing NOAA to make sums available for assisting in the cleanup and response required by severe marine debris events.”

“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans. And when you think of that number -- I mean, to think 8 million tons -- and I would say it's probably -- Senators, I think it’s probably more than that, based on what I’ve seen and based on the kind of work that I’ve seen being done,” the president said.

“This dumping has happened for years and even for decades. Previous administrations did absolutely nothing to take on the foreign countries responsible. We’ve already notified most of them and we’ve notified them very strongly,” he said.

According to Trump, the Marine Debris Program will be extended for five more years.

The bill also calls on the president to “support funding for research and development of bio-based and other alternatives or environmentally feasible improvements to materials that reduce municipal solid waste” and to “work with foreign countries that contribute the most to the global marine debris problem in order to find a solution to the problem.”

The bill also urges the president to “study issues related to marine debris, including the economic impacts of marine debris; and encourage the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to consider the impact of marine debris in relevant future trade agreements.”

“We also are strengthening that up to improve waste management overseas and clean up our nation’s water. We will boost the federal government’s response to ocean waste by authorizing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare severe marine debris events, which happen all the time. It’s incredible. It’s incredible when you look at it. People don’t realize it, but all the time we’re being inundated by debris from other countries,” Trump said.

“This legislation will release funds to states for cleanup and for response efforts, and we will be responding and very strongly. The legislation also encourages the executive branch to engage with those nations responsible for dumping garbage into our oceans. My administration is doing exactly that,” Trump said.

The president said the new trade agreement he brokered between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada is the first to address the issue.

“For example, the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the first U.S. trade agreement ever to include commitments by the parties to cooperate to address land- and sea-based pollution and improve waste management,” Trump said, adding that it will be put into other agreements as well.

“The United States has some of the most beautiful beaches and oceans in the world, and the coastlines are incredible. As president, I will continue to do everything I can to stop other nations from making our oceans into their landfills.That’s why I’m pleased -- very pleased, I must say -- to put my signature on this important legislation,” he said.


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