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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 27, 2019

No, Trump didn't sign a bill this month to clean up oceans

Between the Mueller report and efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act, is President Donald Trump taking on marine trash?

"President Trump signed legislation to clean up millions of tons of trash from our oceans and lakes last week," reads the text of a Facebook post published on March 21, 2019. "But the media won’t report on that… ever."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We’ve checked a similar claim before. In late January, an article posted to Facebook claimed that Trump had signed a bill "to clean millions of tons of garbage from the world’s oceans."

The story was referring to the Save Our Seas Act of 2018, which Trump signed on Oct. 11. He then said that more than 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into oceans every year and that the law "will help address this problem."

But Jordana Merran, communications manager for Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit that supported the Save Our Seas Act and celebrated its passage, said it’s not accurate to summarize the legislation as a bill to "clean millions of tons of garbage from the world’s oceans."

Rather, the law Trump signed reauthorizes "the longstanding amount of $10 million annually" for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, she said.

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"The program does support, among other efforts, Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, in which volunteers collect millions of pounds of garbage off beaches and waterways annually across the globe. However, many entities provide financial support for the ICC."

The legislation, which was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and cosponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, had bipartisan support. It doesn’t direct the country to clean millions of tons of garbage from marine environments.

The bill reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act "to promote international action to reduce marine debris, and for other purposes," according to the law. But it’s not specific about how much debris, or how it should be cleaned up.

Did Trump sign another bill earlier in March?

"No," said Madeline Black, a communications assistant for Ocean Conservancy. "This likely is the same claim as in February being shared belatedly."

When we reviewed the original claim about this legislation, we rated it Half True. That’s because Trump signed a bill that reauthorized a program aimed in part at removing marine water debris.

This more recent Facebook post makes a similar claim but it goes on step further, wrongly stating that Trump signed the legislation this month.

We rate this one as False.

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"President Trump signed legislation to clean up millions of tons of trash from our oceans and lakes last week."
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 21, 2019

Facebook post, Jan. 30, 2019

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump signed a bill aimed in part at removing marine debris," Feb. 11, 2019

Email interview with Madeline Black, communications assistant, Ocean Conservancy, March 26, 2019

The White House, Remarks by President Trump at signing of S. 3508, the "Save Our Seas Act of 2018," Oct. 11, 2018

S.3508 - Save Our Seas Act of 2018

Ocean Conservancy blog, "Save Our Seas Act signed into law," Oct. 11, 2018

The Associated Press, "Trump signs Save Our Seas Act into law," Oct. 13, 2018

Email interview with Jordana Merran, communications manager, Ocean Conservancy, Feb. 7, 2019

NOAA Marine Debris Program, accessed Feb. 6, 2019

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No, Trump didn't sign a bill this month to clean up oceans

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