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U.S. Committee on Natural Resources presents ‘Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act’

26 Oct 2020

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources on Tuesday (20 October) said its Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) unveiled his Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act at a virtual press conference with his co-lead, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), original cosponsors, and a range of bill endorsers.

This landmark legislation was introduced by more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives to address the ocean impacts of climate change and reform federal ocean management to better account for climate mitigation, it said. 

“A healthy ocean is key to fighting the climate crisis,” said Grijalva during the event.

“This bill provides a roadmap for ocean and coastal climate resilience, and responsibly uses them to curb the pollution that is intensifying the climate crisis.

“We must stop the ongoing damage to our oceans to protect the food, jobs and coastlines that millions of Americans depend on. A healthy ocean is an environmental justice issue and we made sure to put protections for low income and communities of color at the front and center.

“I’m grateful for the true champions for our ocean who joined me today. I could think of no better partners in this fight than the Members of Congress, scientists and advocates who have been my partners in advancing climate solutions for our oceans.”

“The ocean is a powerful ally in the climate fight, and unleashing its potential will help us reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier,” added Castor.

“The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act incorporates many of the recommendations in our Climate Crisis Action Plan, which gives Congress a roadmap for creating a healthier, more resilient, and more just America.

“It will unleash the incredible power of the ocean and address the threat that offshore drilling poses to America’s coastal communities, including my own community in the Tampa Bay.”

The recorded livestream of the press conference can be viewed here.

Among other features, the Committee published the following details of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act:

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The bill supports the transition to a clean energy economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with ocean sectors and increasing ocean-based renewable energy—helping us to move away from fossil fuels and protect the ocean and coastal habitats that are important to healthy fish, marine wildlife, and coastal economies.

Increases Carbon Storage in Blue Carbon Ecosystems. The bill recognizes the carbon storage potential and other co-benefits provided by “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves. These ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate of up to four times that of forests on land. They also protect coastal communities by limiting the impacts of coastal erosion, flooding, and storms—all while providing habitat for marine wildlife and fisheries.

Promotes Coastal Resiliency and Adaptation to protect our coasts and communities from the climate impacts we can’t avoid. It authorizes investment in coastal restoration and resilience that is a win-win-win for our economy, our frontline communities, and our environment. 

Improves Ocean Protection by promoting and protecting healthy ocean systems and wildlife populations, which are better able to adapt to the effects of climate change. Marine protected areas, like our protected areas on land, are a key part of protecting biodiversity while tackling climate change – which is more critical than ever in the face of the biodiversity crisis.

Supports Climate-Ready Fisheries with the development and implementation of strategies to improve the management of fisheries in a changing climate and also helps to promote U.S. seafood sourced from environmentally and climate-friendly fisheries.

Tackles Ocean Health Challenges by addressing the ocean health challenges of ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms, both of which cause significant harm to the U.S. seafood, recreation, and tourism industries, as well as human communities and ocean wildlife and ecosystems.

Restores U.S. Leadership in International Ocean Governance by strengthening U.S. leadership in international ocean governance at a time when transboundary pressures on our ocean demands a coordinated response. These actions would both strengthen U.S. security and promote a resilient global ocean for the 21st century.

The bill text of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act can be viewed here, a section-by-section summary is available here and a fact sheet on the bill can be viewed here.   


Photo credit: U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
Published: 26 October, 2020

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