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Advocacy in Action: 2024 Coastal Recreation Hill Day recap

Every year, volunteers and ocean advocates from across the country participate in Surfrider’s Coastal Recreation Hill Days. This year our fly-in was virtual in order to reduce our fossil fuel use, cut down on costs, and make it easier and more accessible to participate. Apparently, it worked, as this was the highest ever attended Hill Days - in just two days, 163 attendees from 68 Surfrider chapters and clubs hosted 142 Congressional meetings to demand action to fight plastic pollution, protect clean water, and address climate change!


Our Asks

We had three major asks this year - protect clean water, reduce plastic pollution, and fight climate change (you can read more about our federal priorities here):

  1. Reauthorize and increase funding for the BEACH Act

    Two kids leaping into a small breaking wave The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) is a Clean Water Act program that sets national standards for recreational waters and allocates federal funding to states to pay for water quality testing and public notification. The BEACH Act authorizes over $30 million, but actual funding has stagnated below $10 million for decades. This year, we’re hoping to push funding levels up to $15 million. This would directly benefit public health, our coastal economies, and our own volunteer-run Blue Water Task Force. Here in Washington, the Dept. of Ecology is the state agency tasked with managing our state’s BEACH Program. Our BWTF volunteers often work directly with Ecology staff to fill in the gaps when and where the BEACH program isn’t able to sample. More funding = more water sampling = safer recreation for all!

  2. Pass the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act

    A handful of tiny bright blue nurdles, or plastic pelletsDid you know that companies can intentionally release nurdles (the small pre-production pellets used in plastics manufacturing) into the environment without penalty? But if you or I were to go then collect those nurdles on a beach cleanup, then throw them out the window on the drive home, we of course would be fined for littering. This bill would close the litter loophole, holding companies accountable for the toxic waste they spill into our waterways. There is no reason NOT to pass this act, and we are working hard to get bipartisan support for what should be a no-brainer bill.

  3. Ban new offshore oil drilling leases across the country

    An oil spill on fire emitting black smoke against a blue skyIt goes without saying that in order to address the climate crisis, we need to stop investing in fossil fuel infrastructure. That includes banning new offshore oil drilling leases in federal waters across the country. Here in Washington, that means passing the West Coast Protection Act, but there are similar bills for the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico that our East Coast, Florida, and Texas Chapters are fighting for. It's time to turn off the tap and protect our coasts from oil spills, as well as take significant action to limit the growing threats of sea level rise and ocean acidification. 


Our Impact

We are stoked to share that shortly after our virtual fly-in, we saw a surge of support for these bills - since Hill Days, we’ve seen 29 additional cosponsors sign on to the Plastic Pellet Free Waters Act, 6 additional cosponsors to the BEACH Act of 2024, and 8 additional cosponsors to offshore drilling bills!

That’s advocacy in action! Whether it's reducing plastic waste, promoting clean water initiatives, or advocating for policies that safeguard our coastlines, every action we take makes a difference.

Our Washington delegation was led by Pete Steelquist, our Policy Manager, with our dream team of volunteers representing the Olympia, Northwest Straits, and South Sound Chapters (shout out to Christine, Vince, Jann, and Kelly!). We held meetings with six Representatives and one Senator, many of whom have been huge supporters of our bills in the past.

Our 6 member WA Hill Day delegation throwing up celebratory shakas on their zoom windows with a backdrop of a sunset paddle on Puget SoundOur WA Delegation from left to right: Pete Steelquist, WA Policy Manager; Liz Schotman, WA Regional Manager; Kelly Jones, South Sound Volunteer Coordinator; Christine Rayburn, Olympia Chair; Jann Eberharter, Northwest Straits Volunteer Coordinator; Vince Rioux, Olympia Volunteer Coordinator

Also super stoked to share our first-ever Alaska Delegation! We met with newly incumbent Representative Peltola’s office as well as Senator Sullivan’s office, both of whom were very supportive of our clean water asks. 

Zoom window of our four member Kenai Peninsula Hill Days delegation with a backdrop of a glacial fjord

Our Kenai Peninsula delegation, from left to right: Marcy Melville, KPC Chair; Liz Schotman, WA Regional Manager; Jen Savage, Senior Plastic Pollution Initiative Manager; Pete Steelquist, WA Policy Manager

HUGE shout out to our Hill Day volunteers and all of you Surfrider activists, lawmakers, and supporters who joined us in our efforts to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches. Together, we can create a brighter future for our planet and ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty and wonder of our coastal treasures.


Keep riding the wave of change!