Jun 18 2008

Shelby Announces Funding for South Alabama and the Wiregrass Commerce, Justice and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced subcommittee approval of a number of important projects in South Alabama included in the fiscal year 2009 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill.  Following today’s action by the subcommittee, the bill will now go to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration.

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The subcommittee’s action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
The subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others.       

Fishery Disaster Program - $50 Million

These funds may be used to alleviate expenses related to fishery failures, fishery resource disasters and regulations on the fishing industry.

“As a result of the volatile 2005 hurricane season and the drought that continues to plague the southeastern United States, Alabama fisheries have taken a significant economic and ecological hit,” said Shelby.  “These recent events, compounded with high fuel prices and increased restrictions on the fisheries, have created a cumulative effect that has shrimpers and fishermen struggling to stay in business.  This funding will provide much needed assistance to an industry that is a vital part of the Alabama economy.”

Center for Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management - $1.25 Million

Researchers at the Center will use this funding to examine the health of the Gulf fisheries in a more comprehensive manner from the in-shore shallow water to the Outer Continental Shelf.

“As our nation’s energy crisis continues, the need for liquefied natural gas and offshore drilling will increase,” said Shelby.  “The Center is uniquely positioned to conduct research that will ensure any efforts to use our coast in the search for domestic sources of energy will be done safely and without risk to the northern Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem and its fisheries.”

Alabama Oyster Restoration and Fishery Enhancement - $1 Million

The University of South Alabama will continue to restore oyster beds and create habitats for offshore reef species.  The project will also conduct research on factors that both adversely or beneficially affect oyster habitats in Alabama’s estuaries.

“The oyster industry is a staple of Alabama’s coastal economy and has an impact felt far beyond our state’s shores,” said Shelby.  “By constructing inshore oyster reefs and an offshore habitat in deep water, the University of South Alabama will continue its research on this economically important resource.”

Dauphin Island East End Coastline Restoration Project - $750,000

The Town of Dauphin Island will use this funding to restore the shoreline dunes and beach on the eastern end of the Island. 

“Dauphin Island’s shoreline has experienced significant erosion in recent years,” said Shelby.  “Specifically, the southeast shoreline of the island has eroded 400 feet.  To maintain the safety of Dauphin Island’s residents and their homes and businesses, it is critical that we take the steps necessary to protect the beach from further encroachment.”

Coastal Inland Hurricane Monitoring and Prediction Program - $750,000

With this funding, the University of South Alabama will seek to acquire the ability to predict the intensity and potential damage of hurricanes that affect the Gulf Coast.

“As we have seen, the Gulf Coast is particularly vulnerable to the destruction caused by hurricanes,” said Shelby.  “This research will provide coastal communities a better picture of what to expect from tropical events so that they can be better prepared for these natural hazards.”

Comprehensive Flood Evaluation Study - $700,000

This funding will allow Baldwin County to develop a comprehensive flood evaluation, wastewater, water and aquifer study.  The study will update and expand the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood studies for the county to include new bodies of water.  Additionally, the study will research and evaluate existing wastewater providers in the county, water line and plant locations and constraints on existing facilities. 

“While we hope it will be unnecessary, local governments across the Gulf Coast should prepare for whatever disasters Mother Nature might send,” said Shelby.  “This study will allow Baldwin County to effectively plan for flooding that may occur in this flooding and hurricane-prone area.”   

Exploreum Engineering Exhibit and Learning Center - $500,000

The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center will use this funding towards construction of its Engineering Learning Center.  The Engineering Learning Center will teach students from kindergarten through high school about emerging area industries, such as aeronautics, ship building and steel manufacturing.  

“I believe very strongly in the need for Alabama’s students to be educated and excited about career opportunities in science and engineering,” said Shelby.  “The Mobile area in particular has seen exceptional growth in the aerospace and medical research fields.  The expanding science and technology-based industry in Mobile will only demand more skilled workers for high paying jobs in the future.  It is my hope that this program will interest students in these fields at a young age and encourage them to further educate themselves in these growing fields.”  

Sea Grant Education Outreach at the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico- $500,000

The funding would establish a NOAA/Sea Grant Extension/Outreach/Education (EOE) Program at the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico.

“This program will restructure NOAA’s Extension/Outreach/Education efforts to significantly enhance the agency’s educational role in the Gulf of Mexico region,” said Shelby.  “The program will serve as a national model for NOAA’s extension, outreach and education efforts, which will be significantly increased as a result of this funding.”

Maritime Museum - $500,000

The Maritime Museum will form a partnership with NOAA to develop educational activities and exhibits about NOAA’s activities and the Gulf.

“The Maritime Museum offers a unique opportunity for students to learn about sea life in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Shelby.  “The Museum will use this funding to create educational exhibits and programs about the ocean.”

Perdido Pass Inlet Management Study - $250,000

The inlet management study will provide the City of Orange Beach with specific ways to improve sand management, reduce erosion, conserve surrounding beach areas and aid navigation at the Pass and within nearby interior waterways. 

“The tourism and recreational fishing industries are essential to the economy of Alabama’s Gulf Coast,” said Shelby. “To ensure that these industries continue to thrive, we must preserve our beaches.”

University of South Alabama Multifunctional Composite Materials Laboratory - $200,000

The University of South Alabama will use this funding to develop new processes for fabricating nano-modified polymer matrix composites.  This project will not only advance the current knowledge surrounding nanocomposites, but will also provide a basis for further research.

“Mobile is well on its way to becoming a global center for aircraft and naval ship manufacturing,” said Shelby.  “As a result, researchers at the University of South Alabama are conducting research not only to make improvements to the products built in south Alabama, but also training the next generation of workers in these fields.  I am pleased to see USA taking on these efforts to support their growing local industries.”

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $600 Million

The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding bolsters forensic capabilities.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities. 

Mobile County Data Sharing and Multi-Jurisdictional Interoperability - $650,000
Brewton Community Access Technology Project - $200,000
Dothan Public Safety Emergency Communications System - $300,000
Gulf Shores Law Enforcement Technology Upgrade - $350,000
Mobile Data Systems to Enhance Law Enforcement Capability for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center - $500,000
“Local law enforcement is vital to adequately responding to crime, gang activity and homeland security threats,” said Shelby.  “The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing.  COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country meet an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $600 million provided in the bill will allow police and sheriffs’ departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”       

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Programs - $400 Million

The following grants will provide youth programs the resources necessary to respond to juvenile delinquency and support communities in their efforts to develop and implement prevention and intervention programs. The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

USA Strong Families, Strong Communities: Innovative Interventions to Prevent Violence - $400,000
Alabama Team Focus Youth Mentoring Program - $600,000
Alabama 4-H Environmental Science Education Center - $500,000
American Village – Building Good Citizens through Character/Civic Education and Outreach for At-Risk Kids - $450,000
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars - $1 Million
Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation - $1 Million
“We must continue to work with our nation’s young people to provide them with the tools and training they need to become contributing members of society,” said Shelby.  “These programs provide our youth with alternative activities to juvenile delinquency.”

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program - $580 Million

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following area projects were included in the Senate bill:

Brantley Traffic Safety - $75,000
Luverne Police Department Improvements Project - $150,000
Alabama Department of Public Safety Mobile Data Computer Expansion - $500,000
Alabama Department of Forensic Science - $1 Million
Simon Wiesenthal Center - $1 Million
National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) - $500,000
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) - $500,000

“In many of my 67 county visits this year, district attorneys and law enforcement officers expressed the importance of the Byrne grants,” said Shelby. “This reiterates my strong belief that the individuals serving on the front lines of our communities each day know best what their departments need to successfully do their jobs.  Providing funds directly to our law enforcement officers allow them to control crime based on their own needs and is one of the best ways we can support our crime fighters.”

The following program in Alabama is slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2009:

Zerometh-Alabama’s Methamphetamine Campaign - $1.1 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamine is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are extremely dangerous.

“Launched earlier this year, Alabama’s Zerometh Campaign works to inform the public about the dangers of using meth,” said Shelby.  “Our local law enforcement officers are working overtime to target drug hot spots and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs. We must do all we can to eliminate this horrific drug from our communities.”

The following nationwide projects and programs are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2009

DEA Development of Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems - $17.8 Million

The Drug Enforcement Administration will develop tactical unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to provide narcotics and border surveillance and interdiction. 

“The DEA will use UASs to detect and apprehend those engaged in illegal drug trafficking,” said Shelby.   “The UASs will equip the DEA with capabilities beyond what is currently available through manned aircraft.  The DEA will coordinate with the U.S. Army to increase technological and research capabilities and limit duplication of resources within federal entities.”

Economic Development Administration - $232.8 Million

The Economic Development Administration works to empower communities recovering from economic distress by assisting them in developing their own revitalization strategies.  Many communities benefiting from EDA assistance have endured economic distress as a result of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other federal facilities, and the depletion of natural resources.

“The Economic Development Administration provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies for public works, planning and other projects designed to facilitate economic development,” said Shelby.  “Within these funds, $15 million is included for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.”

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - $133.28 Million

EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education.    

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $133.28 million to assist states, including Alabama, with establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that will provide lasting improvements in their research infrastructure,” said Shelby.  “Science is rapidly expanding our understanding of the world around us and will lead to more technology and well paying jobs.  Our students must be armed with a solid science education to succeed later in life.”           

Missing and Exploited Children Programs - $70 Million

The following missing children programs will receive funding:

$30 million for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

         $5 million for Jimmy Ryce Law Enforcement Training Center

         $25 million to combat internet crimes against children

         $3 million for Missing Children Office within the Department of Justice

         $5 million for the AMBER alert program

         $2 million for management and administration

“Statistics show that nearly 2000 children are reported missing each day,” said Shelby.  “It is my hope that this funding will help to continue the important work being done to locate these children and return them to their loved ones.  Crimes against children are a plague on our society and we must continue to work to eradicate them.  Continued investment of substantial resources in these programs is critical to ensure the safety of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens-- children.”

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $221 Million

$181 million for DNA initiative

$40 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill, with $181 million specifically designated for the DNA initiative,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $40 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants. State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

Southeast Border Prosecution Initiative - $10 Million

The Southeast Border Prosecution Initiative compensates law enforcement agencies in the southeast for the costs of handling prosecutions in lieu of federal authorities.  Modeled after a similar program in southwest border states, this new program will assist localities with the costs for prosecution and pre-trial detention for federally initiated and referred criminal cases.  This funding can be used for the costs associated with prosecuting drug and related criminal cases and for law and justice activities in cases prosecuted by a state or county prosecutor.

Play by the Rules National Project - $400,000

Play by the Rules has provided students in Alabama with a better understanding of the laws that govern society each day for several years. Phase III of the program will be an effort to expand the project to five additional states and to provide for the publication of more than 35,000 student books, teacher guides, and on-site technical support and training to ten jurisdictions.

“Research shows that law-related education can have a direct impact on a youth’s decisions when he or she is put in at-risk situations,” said Shelby. “The Play by the Rules project has been successful in Alabama and I am hopeful that it will have the same impact in other states across the country.”