WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a funding bill for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that includes specific language preventing the closure of NOAA's James J. Howard lab in Sandy Hook. 

“We've taken an important step to keep the doors of the Howard Lab open and its successful research operation up and running,” said Lautenberg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), which funds NOAA.  “The Howard Lab is critical to New Jersey's fishermen, families and coastal economy and its closure would jeopardize valuable research into the effects of urban areas on our fisheries and oceans.  Through efforts in the Senate, we are making progress to keep the Howard Lab open.”

“This lab is essential to supporting our fishing industry and fishing jobs, maintaining the health of our oceans and understanding the impacts of climate change,” said Menendez.  “I have met many dedicated professionals at the Howard Lab and I’m hopeful they will remain there for years to come.  It’s gratifying to see our advocacy pay off – putting us one step closer to saving this great facility.”  

As a member of the CJS Subcommittee, Senator Lautenberg secured the inclusion of language to prohibit closure of the Sandy Hook lab in the Senate FY 2013 CJS Appropriations bill, which funds NOAA.  The bill was approved by the CJS Subcommittee on Tuesday and by the full Appropriations Committee today.  Senator Lautenberg inserted the language to save the lab after NOAA's budget request proposed closing it.  The bill must now be approved by the full Senate. 

In February, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez called on Senate Appropriations Committee leaders to provide the necessary funding to preserve the NOAA lab in Sandy Hook.  Senators Lautenberg and Menendez and Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) recently visited the lab and sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to reconsider its decision to close it.  

Currently, the Howard lab performs critical research on maintaining healthy fisheries and protecting the ocean environment from the impacts of climate change.  The lab has nearly 50 employees and touts unique research facilities, including 11 seawater labs, a 32,000 gallon aquarium, and a 49-foot research vessel.