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.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island are co-sponsoring legislation to create the endowment, modeled on the National Endowment for the Arts.

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

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