Bonamici bill to promote health of oceans, estuaries moves to house floor

Today the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act.

The COAST Research Act will help coastal communities cope with ocean and coastal acidification by expanding scientific research and monitoring of changing ocean conditions. A video of Bonamici’s remarks at the markup can be found here.

“Our oceans and estuaries are facing the consequences of our inaction to reduce anthropogenic carbon emissions,” Bonamici said at the markup. “We know that even if carbon dioxide emissions are halted today, many of the reciprocal effects for our oceans will continue to occur over the course of the next few decades.”

“Ocean acidification research is still in its infancy, and the best way to mitigate its effects is through regionally coordinated scientific research… We must support vulnerable communities, industries, and coastal and ocean managers by strengthening research on how they can best prepare and, when possible, adapt to ocean and coastal acidification,” she continued. “Our oceans and estuaries are resilient, and we can help them heal, but we cannot afford to wait any longer.”

The Congresswoman noted that our understanding of the long-term consequences of ocean acidification on our marine ecosystems is still limited, but acidic conditions make it difficult for shellfish, coral, and other marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structures. Some finfish, including endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest, lose their sense of smell for identifying prey, reproducing, and navigating their habitats as a result of ocean acidification. During a legislative hearing on the COAST Research Act in February, a witness from the Pacific Northwest testified about how climate change and ocean acidification is threatening the shellfish industry on the Pacific Coast.

Bonamici introduced the COAST Research Act with Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL). It reauthorizes federal funding for the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act through Fiscal Year 2024. The authorization for this important research lapsed in Fiscal Year 2012. The legislation would:

Strengthen investment in research and monitoring of acidification on oceans and estuaries;
Increase our understanding of the economic effects of ocean acidification and coastal acidification in estuaries;
Engage stakeholders, including the commercial fishing industry, researchers, and community leaders through an Advisory Board;
Provide for the long-term stewardship and standardization of data on ocean acidification from different sources, including the National Centers for Environmental Information and the Integrated Ocean Observing System; and
Recognize the effects of ocean acidification on estuaries as well as oceans.

H.R. 1237 was approved by the Committee by a unanimous vote. This is the first of Bonamici’s bills to move to the House floor during the 116th Congress. The bill has been endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, IOOS Association, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, and Oregon State University.

As Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, Bonamici has been a leader on protecting the health of our oceans. Wednesday’s Committee vote represented the Science Committee’s first meaningful action on the effects of climate change on our oceans in the 116th Congress. In addition to the COAST Research Act, a slate of bipartisan ocean acidification bills Bonamici co-led is expected to head to the House floor following the markup, including Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, Congressman Derek Kilmer’s Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, and Congressman Bill Posey’s National Estuaries and Acidification Research Act.

Suzanne Bonamici, 1 May 2019. Article.

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