Whitehouse, Snowe propose national ocean endowment

Posted July 08, 2010, at 3:21 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — As oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, two U.S. senators from New England are proposing a National Endowment for the Oceans to protect and preserve America’s oceans, Great Lakes and coastal areas.

Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island on Thursday announced legislation to create the endowment, modeled on the National Endowment for the Arts. He’s sponsoring it with Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

The endowment would be funded by revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling, interest from the oil spill liability trust fund, and other sources.

Whitehouse says his home state’s economy is directly tied to the health of the ocean, and such a fund would help protect it. Snowe says the endowment would ensure a steady stream of money for preserving the coast.