Mar 10 2009

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 Senate approval for a number of important projects in South Alabama and the Wiregrass that are included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009.  Following today’s action by the Senate, this bill will go to the President for his signature.

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The Senate’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. 

Center for Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management - $900,000
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 - $800,000
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 - $400,000
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 - $700,000
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.”

Gulf Coast Flood Evaluation Study, Baldwin County - $1 Million
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.”

Gulf Coast Flood Evaluation Study, Mobile County - $1 Million  
This funding will allow Mobile 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 Mobile 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 programs 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.”

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $550 Million
The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding also bolsters forensic capabilities.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities. 

•Mobile County Commission - $500,000
•Brewton Community Access Technology Project - $200,000
•Dothan Public Safety Emergency Communications System - $300,000
•Gulf Shores Law Enforcement Technology Upgrade - $350,000
•To Enhance Law Enforcement Capability for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center - $350,000

“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 $550 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 - $374 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 - $500,000
•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 - $546 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 - $100,000
•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) - $700,000

“In many of my 67 county visits each year, district attorneys and law enforcement officers express 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 - $1.5 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 both extremely dangerous and easily obtained.

“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

Economic Development Administration - $273 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) - $153 Million
EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education. 

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $153 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.” 

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $176 Million
$151 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Grant Program
$25 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 $151 million specifically designated for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Grant Program,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $25 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants. State and local forensics labs use these grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences community.”

Play by the Rules National Project - $350,000
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.”