Pollution Resolutions: NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration Looks Ahead to the New Year

Posted Tue, 12/31/2019 - 17:44
By Megan Ewald, Office of Response and Restoration

A toy on a beach with "2020" written in the sand. For most of us, welcoming in the new year is a time of celebration, reflection, and making resolutions to eat healthier and finish forgotten projects! Here at NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, our New Year’s resolutions are a little different.

As we enter into a new decade, we’ve prepared some resolutions specific to pollution and our commitment to keeping the coasts clean from threats of oil, chemicals, and marine debris. In 2020, we will: 

Provide Scientific Support During Emergencies

When oil hits the water, we answer important questions. What got spilled? Where will it go? What’s the damage, and how can we reduce it? When disaster strikes we resolve to have scientists in the air, on the water, and in the lab coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to use sound science for smart decision-making to help our coasts and communities recover quickly. 

In Fiscal Year 2019 we responded to 133 oil spills and chemical releases, and this year we resolve to respond wherever we’re needed. 

Keep America’s Waters Free From Debris

Our nation’s waterways are littered with things that don’t belong there. Plastics, derelict fishing gear, metals, rubber, paper, cloth, and even abandoned ships cause problems for our coasts, rivers, and lakes every day. We’re committed to researching, preventing, and reducing the impacts of marine debris on the economy and marine environment. 

We helped remove over 4,357 metric tons of debris from American waters in FY 2019, and this year we’ll continue working with communities to tackle the threat of marine debris. 

Prepare For Tomorrow’s Disasters Today

Natural and human-caused disasters near our coasts can have huge impacts on communities, economies, and the environment. We provide tools and trainings to equip responders so America’s coasts can recover after disaster strikes. 

Last year we trained 2,314 people in disaster preparedness, and this year we resolve to prepare America’s coastal communities for worst-case-scenarios. 

Restore America’s Waters After Pollution

To restore the environment after pollution, we first need to understand the impacts. When pollution occurs, we work with partners to recover funds through Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Then we develop restoration projects that bolster coastal communities, economies, and the environment. 

In FY 19 we recovered over $28 million to restore public marine resources in five states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.. This year we’ll continue to use sound science to benefit waters across America. 

Looking Forward to the ‘20s

NOAA OR&R is committed to using sound science to keep America’s coasts clean from the threats of oil, chemicals, and marine debris. Our resolution hasn’t wavered in the more than 30 years of our work, but the way we work does evolve.

With each passing year, OR&R experts develop new technologies, innovations, and trainings to advance our work. We’re constantly working to make our science and tools accessible to partners, and communicate our mission to the American public. 

This year we resolve to continue our important work, and to do it even better.

People in orange response gear standing on a dock holding flares. Above, the image reads "Happy New Year!"