The Clean Power Plan offers hope for the oceans

U.S. marine ecosystems and fisheries have long been an economic engine and cultural source of wealth for our country – an invaluable resource that sustains the very air we breathe. Which is why we must take action against the triple threat carbon pollution poses for our oceans: ocean warming, reduced oxygen levels, and ocean acidification. The good news is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, sets a first ever national limit on industrial carbon pollution and provides achievable goals for every state to help us change course and slow the damaging effects of carbon pollution.

The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of a Climate Action Plan put forward by President Obama. For the first time, it will put limits on the carbon pollution generated by power plants–the single largest source of this pollution in the United States. The proposed standards will help cut power sector carbon pollution by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 by setting state-by-state targets. The beauty of the plan is that it provides every state with flexible options in how they choose to meet those targets. Tools they can choose from include making existing coal-fired power plants more efficient, increasing use of renewables such as solar and wind, and tightening energy efficiency, for example in homes and buildings. (…)

The lucrative farmed oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest first experienced the corrosive effects of ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution nearly a decade ago, when hatchery production declined by up to 80 percent as oyster larvae struggled to form shells in more acidified waters. Oyster larvae in the wild also declined. That industry has currently rebounded, with the use of pH and CO2 monitors in hatcheries, but acidification remains a looming threat, and oyster populations outside of hatcheries struggle.

Fishing is central to the economy and culture of communities on the Gulf of Maine, which ranks third in the United States in the value of its seafood landings. Here, the ocean is warming faster than 90% of the world’s saltwater, and many ocean species such as shrimp and cod are moving out of range, farther north and east. Lobsters exhibit sensitivity to both rising water temperatures and reduced pH. Acidification, combined with polluted runoff, is dissolving baby clams in Maine’s mudflats. Fishermen are worried about the effect of these changes on the future of their industry.

In resource-rich Alaska, research shows waters are already becoming corrosive, and that acidification is likely to lead to the decline of several important species, putting communities that depend on these fisheries at risk. Of species studied, shelled animals in Alaska such as king crab and Pacific oysters, appear to be particularly vulnerable to the impact of ocean acidification. (…)

Lisa Suatoni, Switchboard, 30 July 2015. Article.


  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: