Cantwell, Murray, Kilmer and Strickland Secure Largest Ever Annual Investment in Puget Sound Clean-Up

Historic $54 million investment in proposed Omnibus to help protect orcas, salmon, and valuable habitat

WASHINGTON, D.C– This week, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives released the text of the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which includes a historic $54 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Puget Sound Geographic Program — an increase of $19.75 million or 57 percent over Fiscal Year 2022. This investment, combined with a $17.8 million allocation from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, means Puget Sound will receive $71.8 million in federal funds next year to protect irreplaceable habitat.

Today, the Senate passed the Omnibus by a vote of 68-29. The House is expected to vote on it this week.

EPA Geographic Program Funding will support competitive grants and other projects through the Puget Sound Partnership, Tribes, and other stakeholders to clean up Puget Sound. Funded projects include salmon habitat restoration, toxicology, stormwater mitigation, and investments to improve core science needed to understand and respond to the top threats facing the region.

“This is a historic investment in Puget Sound recovery,” said Sen. Cantwell “The creation of the first-ever Puget Sound Recovery National Program office and Puget Sound Federal Task Force will mean that the Puget Sound, salmon, and orcas are poised to receive unprecedented support well into the future. This is critical to conducting the science needed to protect and restore our Sound for future generations.”

“Puget Sound is central to our economy and environment, and it holds major significance to the many Washington state families, Tribes, and communities who count on it to be clean, healthy, and vibrant,” said Sen. Murray. “Protecting and restoring the ecosystems and habitats that make Washington state so special is a top priority for me—that’s why I’m glad I could help bring home more federal funding so our native wild species—like our salmon— can thrive, and I’m focused on securing bold investments to make sure we have a healthy Sound for future generations.”

“This $54 million federal investment to protect and restore Puget Sound is a big deal. It’s a big deal because generations of friends and neighbors have built their lives on the Sound – but if future generations are going to have the same opportunities, we need the federal government to make a meaningful commitment to protecting our region’s most iconic body of water,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, Co-Chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus. “Together, with Senators Murray and Cantwell, Representative Strickland, the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, and many regional partners, we secured this funding to restore salmon and orca populations, ensure future generations can dig for clams, uphold tribal treaty rights, and so much more.”

"Restoring Puget Sound will strengthen our economy and uphold our Pacific Northwest traditions,” said Rep. Marilyn Strickland, Co-Chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus. “This important investment helps protect our Sound, rebuild its ecosystem, honor tribal treaty rights, and preserve tens of thousands of jobs for years to come.”

Puget Sound is an economic driver for the region’s more than 4.7 million people and federally recognized Tribes. It is the largest estuary in the United States by volume.

In addition to funding included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, Senators Cantwell and Murray and Representatives Kilmer and Strickland included the Puget Save Our Sound Act (Puget SOS) in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. The bill establishes a Puget Sound Recovery National Program Office within the Environmental Protection Agency and in coordination with NOAA and other federal agencies. The Puget SOS Act would also codify the Puget Sound Federal Leadership Task Force, which is made up of federal agencies that play a vital role in protecting Puget Sound.

The Omnibus funds government programs through September 30, 2023. The text of the bill was released early Tuesday.