NEWARK, NJ — Today, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) toured the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) James J. Howard lab in Sandy Hook to highlight its importance to New Jersey's coastal economy and environment.  The Fiscal Year 2013 budget request released by NOAA in February proposed to eliminate funding for the lab, which would result in its closure.  During a press conference today outside the lab, Lautenberg, Menendez and Pallone vowed to work through the congressional appropriations process to protect funding for this critical research facility.  

“Closing this lab would jeopardize important efforts to protect New Jersey’s shore and coastal areas across the country,” said Lautenberg, who is a member of the Appropriations Committee and serves on the Subcommittee that funds NOAA.  “The Howard Lab is a blessing for our state's economy and a boon for our environment.  It has helped New Jersey's fishing industry and our state's prosperous coastal economy thrive.  From my position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will fight to keep the Howard Lab open.”

“For more than 50 years, the Howard Lab has been a unique and invaluable resource for our fisherman, scientists, students, the surrounding communities and the nation.  Our fishermen and our scientists need to know what is happening here to scup, to black sea bass and to summer flounder.  Our regional economy needs the good jobs that are sustained through the important research performed here.  And our nation needs the critical scientific understanding of how we can best maintain a clean and sustainable ocean environment,” said Menendez. 

“The Howard lab at Sandy Hook is the only one of its kind in the region and is doing critical scientific research to keep our waters clean and fishable and improve the health and safety of coastal communities,” said Pallone.  “I am committed to doing everything possible to keep this important facility open and functioning at full capacity and to make sure that the lab has the necessary funding to continue its important work.”

In February, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Representative Pallone sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to reconsiders its decision to close the lab.  Senators Lautenberg and Menendez have also called on Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to provide the necessary funding to preserve the NOAA lab in Sandy Hook.