Under current law $26.5 million is authorized to be appropriated in 2020 and 2021 for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Estuary Program. The bill would eliminate those authorizations, but would authorize the appropriation of $50 million a year over the 2022-2026 period for the program.
Under the National Estuary Program, EPA designates national estuaries and establishes a management conference that implements conservation and management plan for estuaries. EPA provides grants and makes competitive awards to aid implementation of those plans. The Congress appropriated $27 million in 2019 for those purposes. H.R. 4044 would add several new areas to a list of regions that EPA is required to give priority consideration to under the program, expand the selection criteria for competitive awards, and expand the purpose of management conferences to include addressing the effects of extreme weather events and increasing public education on the conditions of the estuary.
Assuming appropriation action consistent with the bill and based on historical spending patterns, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $70 million over the 2020-2024 period and $127 million after 2024. The costs of the legislation, detailed in Table 1, fall within budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).