House passes Allen bill to study ocean acidification

The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 4174, The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act. It was introduced by Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine, a co-chairperson of the House Oceans Caucus.

Allen’s legislation establishes a comprehensive, interagency program to conduct research on the processes and consequences of ocean acidification due to increasing carbon emissions. Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, and Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“House passage of my bill means that we are one giant step closer toward a better understanding of the effects carbon emissions have on fragile ocean environments,” Allen said. “Ocean acidification has the potential to profoundly change our ocean ecosystems, and may seriously and negatively impact commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, aquaculture, and many other ocean related industries.”

Added Allen: “For example, research by scientists at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, has revealed that ocean acidification, due to climate change, may substantially increase the mortality of young clams, threatening Maine’s $16 million industry and the livelihoods of 1,800 commercial clam diggers.”

Allen said about one-third of the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels ends up in the oceans, altering ocean surface carbon chemistry.

“Thirty years ago, when acid rain posed a dire threat to Maine’s lakes, we documented the harm and devised a legislative response through monitoring and research,” said Allen. “The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act will enable us to develop a similar response to ocean acidification.”

Andy Kekacs, Village Soup, 10 July 2008. Article.

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